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PTCOLIM

 

London Evening Sessions:

The Examined Life

 

"The unexamined life is no life for humans." – Socrates, The Apology.

Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London, NW1 7AY

The Prometheus Trust runs regular meetings in London. We meet at Cecil Sharp House fortnightly on Monday evenings, from 7.30 to 9.15 – but with time after this for more informal chats, if so desired. 

These evenings include short talks and/or readings from Platonic writings – but we hope they will be genuinely interactive, with all participants invited to contribute to our collaborative search for truth. No previous experience of formal philosophy is required.

Admission is free, but we do encourage those who are able to donate between 3 and 5 in order to cover our costs.

Most of these evenings are self-contained and every effort is made to make them accessible to the newcomer, while allowing the great profundity of the Platonic tradition to step forward and speak to us at whatever level our present understanding sits. Some of these sessions are coupled together, in order to give us the space to examine more fully particular texts and themes, but even here we will ensure that if those attending have missed the first of the two sessions a recap of what has gone before will help all participants to pick up the main threads of the theme.

We will make available (as a PDF download) the text we are studying, well before the date of the meeting. .

The Trust has run similar activities for some 14 years, and in our experience they allow the most profound questions concerning human life, the nature of reality, and our interactions, to be explored at once both seriously and with good cheer. Our aim is to provide a forum for honest and straight-forward enquiry, but which is unafraid to explore inward-moving paths too often neglected by modern schools of thought.

 

The next sessions:

 

 

August 14th - Plotinus on the Beautiful.

 

What is beauty? What things can be described as beautiful? How do we obtain a sight of beauty itself? One of the great treatises of Plotinus explores these and other related questions - and the way this is done perhaps shows us how we can approach all the ideas of the eternal realm.

Plotinus begins by examining some of the then current mechanical explanations of beauty and finding them inadequate.  He then moves on to break through the limitations of such theories and shift his readers' focus to the transcendent, and in so doing encourages the recovery and growth of our own inherent transcendence. "No eye ever saw the sun without becoming sun-like, nor can a soul see beauty without becoming beautiful. You must become first all godlike and all beautiful if you intend to see God and beauty."

We plan to look at the final section of Plotinus' treatise - the culmination of his profound exploration of Beauty. Earlier in summer we looked at previous sections of the text, but we will summarize the main points covered in those sessions, so if you missed them you should be able to pick up the threads without too much trouble.

Download the text: Plotinus - On beauty

 

 September 11th - Plato’s Cosmic Ecology

 

In Plato's Timaeus the physical universe is presented as full of life and intelligence, of which humankind is merely a part. It is also described as being beautiful, purposeful and divine – a "happy god" – so that both the earth and the heavens are seen as an harmonious whole: a worldview worth exploring. We will read extracts from the dialogue and, we hope, be inspired to reach into the depths of this beautiful vision so very different from the mechanical worldview embraced by much of the modern world. Plato's understanding of the manifested universe may offer humankind the best foundation for a genuinely ecological life in which we discover a harmony between with nature and ourselves.

 

Download the text: Platos Cosmic Ecology

 

September 25th - Introducing Iamblichus: Philosophy and Theurgy

 

The long Platonic tradition of the ancient world was much more than just Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - many men and women fed the flame which warmed the heart of the tradition. One of the most significant of this line of philosopher-sages was Iamblichus (c. 240-325 CE) who studied in the school of Plotinus and Porphyry: his remarkable contribution to the tradition was to harmonize Platonic philosophy with much of the mystery religions of Greece, Egypt and the middle East. Iamblichus wrote extensive and profound commentaries on the Platonic dialogues (most of which now lost) and also composed a work called On the Pythagorean Way of Life, focusing on Pythagoras as a wise sage and philosophical role model. The most important of his writings to have survived the centuries is his work known as On the Mysteries - and tonight Dr Crystal Addey will introduce us to Iamblichus and his philosophical “theurgy” (literally “working with the gods”). The evening’s format will be a little different from our usual one - the introductory talk will take the first 30 or so minutes, and will include various passages from On the Mysteries - and we will then open the meeting to a general discussion on this much neglected aspect of the Platonic tradition.

Dr Crystal Addey is the author of Divination and Theurgy in Neoplatonism: Oracles of the Gods.

Download the text:

Programme 2017

The following is a draft syllabus for 2017: descriptions and downloadable text will be available soon

Subject [and text]

Presenter

File download

16 Jan *

Lecture: the Platonic Tradition

Tim Addey

 

30 Jan *

Plato's vision: One reality, two worlds, three natures? [Timaeus]

Tim Addey

Platonic vision

13 Feb *

The soul – living knowledge. [T Taylor's intro to De Anima]

Tim Addey

Living knowledge

27 Feb *

Diotima's path of love [Symposium]

Tim Addey

Diotima on Love

13Mar *

Orphic Myth and Platonic Philosophy 1 [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

Plato and Orpheus

27 Mar

Socrates as the philosophic Theseus [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

Socrates as Theseus

10 Apr

Orphic Myth and Platonic Philosophy 2 [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

Plato and Orpheus

24 Apr

Know Thyself – Plato's first exhortation [First Alcibiades]

Tim Addey

Know Thyself

8 May

Plotinus on the Beautiful 1

Peter Lyle

Plotinus - On beauty

22 May

The Platonic tradition looks at Evil [From Proclus/Plotinus?]

Tim Addey

Platonism on Evil

5 Jun

Plotinus on the Beautiful 2

Peter Lyle

Plotinus - On beauty

19 Jun

Knowledge in Plato’s Theaetetus [Theaetetus]

Miranda Addey

Knowledge in Theaetetus

3 Jul

Plato's Seventh Letter – philosophical practice and theory 1 [7th letter]

Ariadne Pascalidi

Seventh Letter - extracts

10 Jul

Knowledge in Plato’s Sophist [Sophist]

Miranda Addey

Sophist - knowledge and the real

31 Jul

Plato's Seventh Letter – philosophical practice and theory 2 [7th letter]

Tim Addey

Seventh Letter - extracts

14 Aug

Plotinus on the Beautiful 3

Peter Lyle

Plotinus - On beauty

28 Aug

No meeting - Cecil Sharp House closed for the bank holiday

 

 

11 Sep

Plato’s Cosmic Ecology - drawn from the Timaeus

Tim Addey

Platos Cosmic Ecology

25 Sep

An introduction to Iamblichus - Philosophy and Theurgy

Dr Crystal Addey

 

9 Oct

Plato's Cave and Myth [The Republic]

Peter Lyle

 

23 Oct

Roots of Platonic dialectic 1 - Heraclitus

Ariadne Pascalidi

 

6 Nov

Philosophy and the art of questioning - Plato’s Euthyphro

Stuart Dunbar

 

20 Nov

Roots of Platonic dialectic 2 - Parmenides

Ariadne Pascalidi

 

4 Dec

Plotinus on Dialectic

Tim Addey

 

18 Dec

Proclus on Dialectic

Peter Lyle

 

An outline of our approach

The Prometheus Trust, a registered educational charity, exists to encourage, promote and assist the flowering of philosophy as the living love of wisdom. It aims especially at re-introducing philosophy as a transformative activity – one that gradually draws into activity all that is best in the human self, so that both the inner and outer life are directed towards that which is truly good, rather than that that which only appears to be good. "Beatific contemplation does not consist of the accumulation of arguments or a storehouse of learned knowledge, but in us theory must become nature and life itself." - Porphyry, 3rd century AD.

The starting point for our studies and reflections is the writings of the Platonic tradition but we rely on the affirmation that every man and woman has within him or herself a connection to all the great truths which underlie reality: our joint discussions are aimed at bringing forth and into focus these truths, which otherwise might remain more or less obscured by the complexities of life. The Trust looks to follow the Platonic tradition's general approach - that merely because Plato or any of the other renowned thinkers inside or outside the Platonic tradition have asserted something we should not simply accept it but, rather, seek to see for ourselves whether or not (and in what way) any particular affirmation is true.

We hope to explore the ways of wisdom in a spirit of friendship and co-operation with anyone who is excited by the possibilities of philosophy: previous experience of philosophy or great cleverness are not required – just an interest in discovering the truth and a willingness to look beyond the appearance of things. By this means we may, perhaps, begin with words but journey to some understanding beyond words: as Plato wrote, "For a thing of this kind cannot be expressed by words like other disciplines, but by long familiarity, and living in conjunction with the thing itself, a light as it were leaping from a fire will on a sudden be enkindled in the soul, and there itself nourish itself."

For further details, email education@prometheustrust.co.uk

Venue: Cecil Sharp House
2 Regent’s Park Road
London
NW1 7AY                Google maps link

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