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PTCOLIM

 

Education

“The Platonic tradition may be likened to an underground river that from time to time sends up a spring; wherever its waters flow, the soul is reborn, and with it the conception of intellectual form, the beautiful, and true art.”  Kathleen Raine

“Essentials of the Philosophy of Plato and his Tradition”

- a ten week introductory course January 21st - March 25th 2019
Morpho-Cypres-icon

Click here for details

 

Autumn module on the Timaeus - click here
Italian study week - June 2019 click here
Reading group in London on Plato’s Phaedo click here
Wednesday evening sessions in Bristol - click here
Monday evening sessions in London - click here
Myth and Metaphysics - residential weekend, click here

 

For full calendar of Prometheus Trust events click here

Education Modules - Introduction

    Introduction            Methods           Commitment          Finances

Venue         Sample timetable        Further information       Forthcoming modules

 

Introduction

Over recent times our culture's understanding of philosophy, its purposes and potentialities, has become increasingly distorted: generally it is no longer seen as the primary guide to life, nor as a perfective path.  Further, its acceptable methods have been reduced to a narrow exercise of logical reason, based on a very limited view of reality and human abilities.  This is a betrayal of the vision of the founders of philosophy.

The Prometheus Trust's education programme is offered to students who are genuinely seeking to follow the path of philosophy as a way of inner enlightenment and as a guide to all aspects of life.  The programme is primarily centred upon the affirmation that truth is to be found in the soul, and that all education is properly a reminiscence of immutable and eternal ideas which are more or less forgotten as the soul descends from her pristine and heavenly condition and becomes immersed in the material world. 

The Trust regards the Platonic tradition as the most comprehensive, stable and reliable upon which to base its exploration of philosophy: this profound tradition has been long neglected by the West, and is more akin to the great Eastern philosophies than those developed in recent centuries in the West.  Philosophy in these terms is an essential element of religion, art, science, and civic life - indeed in any area of human endeavour where wisdom is required to raise the soul to the highest levels.  Above all else, it addresses the deep human aspiration to live a divine and happy life.

There have been many attempts at re-introducing the Platonic teachings to thoughtful students over the last few centuries, but very often these have been defeated by the failure to uphold or even consider the most important concepts of the tradition in the face of antagonistic attitudes stemming from contrary religious, philosophical or metaphysical schools of thought.  The Prometheus Trust is determined that its programme will give proper attention to these basic Platonic concepts, as unfamiliar as some of these may be, so that its students will be enabled to see them in their best light: only in this way can such doctrines be intelligently accepted, rejected or modified according to each individual's inner light. 

Plato's writings are framed within the ancient Greek mystery-religion, using the language of myth, initiation, and Pythagorean teaching.  His deepest truths are often to be found in the drama as much as the words of his dialogues.  Our approach to these truths is through the mystic conceptions of the late Platonists Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Damascius and many others because their writings, in part, are a response to the passing of the age-long tradition which rested upon an individual's exploration of truth, rather than an imposed creed.  When these writings inform a philosopher's own studies and meditations there arises, like the sun rising from the ocean, a most beautiful light which quickens the soul to the highest life.

Our methods

At present our education programme is based upon a modular approach: we take two subjects for exploration per year one for the autumn, and one for the spring. 

Each module has an introductory reading (sometimes a dialogue or text from the writings of the great Platonists, sometimes a modern textbook, and sometimes a specially written paper).

We then have three weekend seminars the first is used as an initial exploration with particular emphasis on setting up a framework or overview from which the subject can be expanded.  The second weekend, usually around 5 to 6 weeks after the first, is the most intensive weekend we expect our students to have spent some time at home studying and contemplating the subject for consideration and the bulk of the weekend is spent in group discussions.  The third weekend is largely given over to student presentations which act as prompts to further group study.  Each weekend, in addition to study sessions, has a period for formal (but relatively short) meditations and devotions, without which philosophy tends towards a merely two-dimensional rationalism rather than a profound and spiritual discipline.  We also leave plenty of time for informal activities during which we find that conversations often transform seemingly small observations or questions into significant insights and moments of understanding.

Our tutors are always happy to keep up correspondence with our students during and after a module should further ideas or questions arise.

Each module, as far as is possible, is self-contained allowing potential students to join us at the start of any module.  Of course, as the modules are studied and built upon so the students' appreciation of the subtleties of philosophy grows: we occasionally run separate study groups during our weekends allowing students of differing experience to work at an appropriate speed.

Commitment

The modules we run are our best attempt at maintaining a continuous cycle of study and contemplation on what are, by their very nature, profound subjects.  This does mean that attendance at all three weekends is important to miss one weekend, especially the first or second, will mean that the student will struggle to catch up on the areas missed.  We realise that life is never as simple or as predictable as one would like, but we do ask within reasonable limits that the commitment to a module is seen as one to attend all three weekends, as well as to home study between them.  You should also note that our weekends start at 6.45 pm on Friday evenings and end at around  3 pm on Sunday afternoons we try to make full use of the hours available to us and again wherever possible we ask our students to ensure that they arrive by the scheduled start time.

Finances

Our venue is a retreat house in Purley Chase, Warwickshire: charges for a weekend are 118 inclusive of all costs (accommodation is nominally shared bedrooms, but it is almost certain that in practice nobody will be asked to share) or 136 for single ensuite rooms: this represents only what the Trust pays the retreat house for your accommodation and basic expenses.

The Trust comes from a tradition that does not see wisdom as something to be bought and sold, nor as a possession nor a professional qualification, and our programme is run, as nearly as possible, on a cost basis.  The fees payable are set to cover accommodation, food, and necessary expenses of the weekends, and our tutors do not charge for their work.  Our fees are, therefore, significantly below what is normally charged for similar weekends.  Where students may struggle to pay even these fees, we always try and ensure that this is not a barrier to participation, and should you find yourself in such a position, you should have no hesitation in approaching the Treasurer in confidence (info@prometheustrust.co.uk) to ask for a bursary.   Where students are in a position to make donations over and above the set fees, we do ask that this is given serious consideration.  The Trust works hard to ensure that all donations received are put to the best possible use, and that monies put into the hands of the Trust are placed in the direct service of philosophy.  The Trust is a registered charity (registration number 299648) and any gifts made to it by UK taxpayers enable the charity to reclaim the standard rate tax you may have paid on the gift.

Cancellations: fees cannot be refunded on late cancellations.

Copies of papers for each module are free to enrolled students; students may have to purchase books (which if supplied by the Trust, attract a 20% discount).

Venue

We use the Purley Chase Centre for all our weekend seminars: it is the headquarters of the Swedenborgian Church, and is situated in the countryside near Mancetter, Warwickshire. Purley Chase Centre is a lovely building, comfortably appointed, and consists of an older building in which the (nominally) shared accommodation is situated, and a large newer extension in which the dining room and the majority of the ensuite rooms are situated. There is a well-stocked bar which is opened (on request) on Saturday evening; adjoining the bar is a conservatory. The grounds, where you can walk or just sit, are beautiful.

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Sample timetable

Friday    

6.00 Arrive 
6.45 Welcome 
7.00 Evening meal (cold buffet)
8.00 Reading/preparation for weekend
9.30 Meditation

Saturday 

8.15 Meditation
8.30 Breakfast 
9.20 Study session
10.45 Meditation 
11.00 Coffee 
11.30 Study session 
1.00 Lunch 
1.30 Walk/free time 
   

 

Saturday (continued)

 2.30 Study Session
 4.00 Afternoon tea
4.30 Meditation
4.45 Study session
Evening meal

Sunday  

8.15 Meditation
8.30 Breakfast
9.20 Study session
10.45 Meditation
11.00 Coffee
11.30 Study session
1.00  Lunch
1.45 Concluding session
 2.15 Meditation        (depart 3pm)

Further Information

For more information and for a booking form contact the Education Secretary at:
The Prometheus Trust
7 Pine Crest Way
Bream, Lydney,
Glos, GL15 6HG

or email education@prometheustrust.co.uk

 

Forthcoming modules

 

Winter/Spring 2019: On Ideas

(Weekend seminars: 18-20 January, 1-3 March, 12-14 April 2018) 

Central to the Platonic tradition is a profound teaching regarding ideas - the “theory of forms”: this module is a chance to look at this important aspect of philosophy and get beyond the rather superficial understanding of ideas presented by modern commentators. The dynamic quality of eternal ideas informs the manifested universe, and underlies the path of the human soul on its journey of self-discovery: we will take the opportunity to explore the principles of dialectic as the primary means for our engagement with ideas, for as Parmenides says, “where will you turn yourself if you are ignorant of these [ideas]?”

Autumn 2019 - Plato’s Phaedrus

O beloved Pan, and all ye other Gods, who are residents of this place, grant that I may become beautiful within, and that whatever I possess externally may be friendly to my inward attainments.”

(Weekend seminars: 13-15 September, 25-27 October, 6-8 December 2019)

Whither are you going, my dear Phaedrus, and from whence came you?” With these words Plato opens a dialogue which might be called his manifesto of philosophy: it draws the reader in to a consideration of the fundamental questions of human life, touching upon all the primary teachings of the Platonic tradition, and showing how intimately bound love and truth are in the philosophic life of the soul. At the heart of the dialogue is Socrates’ beautiful myth of the soul’s journey through the heavens in the company of the Gods, with each following her particular divine ruler – and this starting point, he claims, is a key to our entire terrestrial experience.

Our three residential weekends will allow us a close study of one of the most important texts of the Platonic corpus: we will examine the underlying concepts and arguments of the dialogue, and explore the mythological and initiatory elements which Plato so carefully integrates into the philosophical narrative. We will cover:

● The relationship between rational thinking and inspiration on the philosophic path.

● The nature and destiny of the soul which, says Socrates "is situated at different times in different forms."

● The source of our innate knowledge of reality, which true education brings to light.

● The power of Eros to transform the course of life.

● The Platonic understanding of the Gods who were central to ancient religions and philosophies.

● The subtleties of oral teaching in the philosophic sphere, and the contrast between written and oral tradition.

We will draw on the insights of the Platonic tradition, and especially on Hermeas' Commentary on the Phaedrus. The dialogue is a suitable starting point to the study of Platonic philosophy but at the same time it has depths which repay time and again those who are revisiting it.

Winter/Spring 2020: On Dialectic

(Weekend seminars: 17-19 January, 28 February - 1 March, 3-5 April 2020)

“Mankind (says Petvin), are not to be made any more truly knowing than happy by another's understanding. - There is no man can at once convey light in the higher subjects, to another man's understanding. It must come into the mind from its own motions, within itself: and the grand art of philosophy, is to set the mind a-going; and, even when we think nothing of it, to assist it in its labour."

Dialectic is called “the capstone of knowledge” by Plato in the Republic: it is the art of discovering those stable truths which lie hidden within the soul. We will draw on the insights of Plato and his best commentators in order to explore the ways of dialectic, and use some of the propositions of Proclus in his masterly dialectic work, The Elements of Theology, as our starting point.

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2019 - three Sunday afternoon workshops in Islington, North London: “Plato and the pursuit of Truth” with Tim Addey. 10th March: “Drama as an instrument of truth”, 17th March: “Story-telling as an instrument of truth”, 24th March: “Questioning as an instrument of truth” - all run from 4 to 7pm, in association with New Acropolis, London; click here for details.


Should you wish to be put on our mailing list in order to be kept informed about these events and courses please email us

Email for further details: education@prometheustrust.co.uk or write to The Education Secretary, 7 Pine Crest Way, Bream, Lydney, Glos, GL15 6HG

 

Italian Study week on the The First Alcibiades
in Umbria (central Italy) 4-11 June 2019 - details here.

 

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Cosmic Egg -sm

Myth and Metaphysics - exploring metaphysical truths though stories

A residential weekend with the Prometheus Trust:

3-5 May, 2019, Purley Chase Centre, Mancetter, Warwickshire, CV9 2RQ

for details click here.