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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 15th - March 19th 2018
Morpho-Cypres-icon

Click here for details

 

One day workshops in 2016 - click here
Italian study week - September 2016 click here.
Monday evening sessions in London - 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 112 inclusive of all costs (accommodation is nominally shared bedrooms, but it is almost certain that in practice nobody will be asked to share) or 130 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
6 Fairways,
Dilton Marsh, Westbury,
Wilts, BA13 3RU

or email education@prometheustrust.co.uk

 

Forthcoming modules

 

Autumn 2017 - The Phaedo

“Nothing can harm a good man either in life or after death”

(Weekend seminars: 15-17 September, 20-23 October, 1-3 December 2017)

The Phaedo of Plato concerns the immortal soul and unfolds in dialectical, mythological, dramatic and initiatory language the path of its liberation. From one point of view it complements the Phaedrus, which especially concerns the descent of the soul into the trials of the material life through her inability to sustain her original heavenly station with the Gods. From another point of view, it is a continuation and conclusion of a series of closely related dialogues which surround the trial of Socrates before the court of the 500 on charges of impiety and the corruption of the Athenian youth – the Euthyphro, the Apology and the Crito. But however one looks at it, there should be no doubt in the mind of the Platonic student that this dialogue is of the highest importance to the science and art of the way of perfection.

We will follow the twists and turns of the path that Socrates takes his fellow philosophers along, in order to explore the important questions the dialogue raises - and in particular we will consider what is said in terms of our own soul’s growth. For as Socrates says, “it is just, my friends, to think that if the soul is immortal, it requires our care and attention, not only for the present time, in which we say it lives, but likewise with a view to the whole of time: and it will now appear, that he who neglects it must subject himself to a most dreadful danger.”

 

Winter/Spring 2018: The Platonic Tradition on the subsistence of Evil

(Weekend seminars: 19-21 January, 2-4 March, 13-15 April 2018) 

The question of the reality, power and source of what we call evil has demanded the attention of every major philosophical and religious tradition throughout history. As we move into an age of global communications with its inevitable frictions as previously fairly self-contained cultures are drawn into closer contact, and with an ever-more powerful technology for good or ill at our disposal, the need to bring about a clear understanding of evil becomes especially urgent. Oedipus

What is evil? Is it a mere privation of good, or does it have its own active principle? Where does it come from – God? Nature? Humankind? What is its relation to otherness, to destructiveness, to ignorance, and to death? Is it entirely accidental and without purpose, or does it in some way serve the outworking of the good? In an order of existence in which things are generated and decay, is evil just another way of describing the decaying of things? Is it an unavoidable concomitant to a world in which free-will plays a part? How should we respond to people or events which are deemed to be evil? Dare we look into our own selves in order to arrive at the knowledge of good and evil?

This module will look at Plato’s dialogues as they explore the question, and then move on to two small treatises from later Platonists – Plotinus’ Ennead I, 8 (The Nature and Source of Evil) and Proclus’ On the Subistence of Evil. These explorations are framed by some of the most profound theological, metaphysical and psychological concepts, and we hope that our studies of the theme will open out into a wide ranging look at reality – a reality which is brought about, according to Plato, by an utterly transcendent source, he calls The Good.

 

Autumn 2018 - Creation and the Soul in Plato’s Timaeus

“everything that comes to be, of necessity comes to be by some cause; for apart from a cause,
it's impossible for anything to have a coming to be.

(Weekend seminars: 14-16 September, 19-21 October, 30 November - 2 December 2018)

The Timaeus of Plato is a dialogue which sets before the reader a description of the creation of the manifested universe - a universe which is good and beautiful. Now, claims the main speaker, Timaeus, a good and beautiful universe must be alive and intelligent, but it is impossible for any being to be in such a state without the presence of soul: and thus at the centre of his description stands his insight into the nature and construction of the soul. Our studies will concentrate on the Timaeus 27c - 54c, and draw upon the extensive Commentary on the dialogue by Proclus.

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]?”

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One day workshops 2017: The Trust is planning to run four one-day workshop on various subjects over the coming year. For further details go to our Events page.


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

Email for further details: education@prometheustrust.co.uk or write to The Education Secretary, 6 Fairways, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wilts, BA13 3RU

 

Italian Study week on the The Gorgias
in Umbria (central Italy) September 2018 - details here.