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PTCOLIM

 

London Evening Sessions:

The Examined Life

 

"The unexamined life is not lived." – 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 18 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.

We also run similar sesions in Bristol fortnightly on Wednesday evenings: click here for details.

Upcoming sessions:

 

4th March: Plato’s Phaedrus and the power of Eros

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. This love is a desiring form of love – the kind ruled over by Eros, and Socrates has much to say about the inspiration which comes from him:

". . . many then are the beautiful works arising from divine mania, . . . So that we ought not to be afraid of mania; nor should any reason disturb us, which endeavours to evince that we ought to prefer a prudent friend to one who is divinely agitated: for he who asserts this, ought likewise to show, in order to gain the victory, that love was not sent from the Gods for the utility of the lover and his beloved. But, on the contrary, it must now be shown by us that a mania of this kind was sent by the Gods, for the purpose of producing the greatest felicity. The demonstration, indeed, will be to the unworthy incredible, but to the wise, an object of belief. It is necessary, therefore, in the first place, that, beholding the passions and operations of the divine and human soul, we should understand the truth concerning the nature of each."

We will explore what Plato says in the Phaedrus concerning the soul that is the true self and how the divine impulse and inspiration of Eros underpins the ascent to its starry home.

Download the text: Phaedrus and the power of Eros

18th March: A Platonic look at Homer’s Iliad

In the glittering and vast stellium that was ancient Greece, the two brightest stars were Plato and Homer: the former is known as the founder of the West's rational and systematic approach to truth, the latter as the founder of the West's literary tradition. But perhaps the simple division of philosopher on the one hand, and epic fiction writer on the other fails to capture the range of either: Plato's use of myth and story, and his power to move the reader in the drama of his dialogues, along with his ability to elevate and initiate those who follow him along the path of philosophy is there for any who are open to such possibilities. And Homer, whose understanding of the human condition and the stage upon which we are required to unfold our mysterious nature has rarely been surpassed, has perhaps obscured his wide-ranging wisdom by hiding it in symbolic and mythic language. 

Can we draw the two together by reading Homer with Platonic eyes? Will Platonic concepts help us to gain a deeper understanding of the two great epics attributed to Homer, and will his verses give us insights into the narrative which Plato offers us, scattered through various dialogues, of the soul's journey?

Download the text: A Platonic look at Homers Iliad

 

15th April: Ideas in Plato and his tradition

Plato is perhaps best known for his "theory of forms" – the view that things in the material world are produced and shaped by eternal ideas or forms. But although the fact of the theory is well known, the actual nature of forms as envisaged by Plato is badly misunderstood, and this has been the case for many centuries. Thomas Taylor, the great English Platonist, wrote, "The Platonic doctrine of Ideas has been, in all ages, the derision of the vulgar, and the admiration of the wise. Indeed, if we consider that Ideas are the most sublime objects of study, and that their nature is no less bright in itself, than difficult to investigate, this opposition in the conduct of mankind will be natural and necessary; for, from our connection with a material nature, our intellectual eye, previous to the irradiations of science, is as ill-adapted to objects the most splendid of all, 'as the eyes of bats to the light of day.' And yet unless the existence of these lucid beings is admitted, there can be no such thing as science; nor, indeed, any genuine knowledge at all."

Aided by some extracts from Plato and other Platonists, we will take a careful look at what ideas are (and what they are not); what their power is; the effect of ideas on the world we perceive through our senses; and what our relation is to ideas.

Download the text: Plato and Ideas

Programme 2019

 

The following is a draft syllabus for 2018: descriptions and downloadable text will be available as each date approaches.

Subject [and text]

Presenter

File download

21 Jan

Platonic Letters on the Philosophic Life NOTE: runs from 8-9.30pm

Tim Addey

Letters on the Philosophic Life

4 Feb

On Philosophy and Creativity NOTE: runs from 8-9.30pm

Tim Addey

Philosophy and Creativity

18 Feb

On Freewill  NOTE: runs from 8-9.30pm

Tim Addey

The Platonic tradition and Freewill

4 Mar

Plato’s Phaedrus and the power of Eros NOTE: runs from 8-9.30pm

Tim Addey

Phaedrus and the power of Eros

18 Mar

A Platonic look at the Iliad      NOTE: runs from 8-9.30pm

Tim Addey

A Platonic look at Homers Iliad

15 Apr

Ideas in Plato and his tradition

Tim Addey

Plato and Ideas

29 Apr

Porphyry and the philosophic death

Miranda Addey

 

20 May

Plotinus on the Beautiful 1

Peter Lyle

 

3 Jun

Plotinus on the Beautiful 2

Peter Lyle

 

17 Jun

The Good and the transcendent Sun

Miranda Addey

 

1 Jul

Philosophy and truth

Tim Addey

 

15 Jul

Iamblichus

Crystal Addey

 

29 Jul

Philosophy and mystical initation

Tim Addey

 

5 Aug

Philosophy as an oral tradition

Tim Addey

 

19 Aug

Women in philosophy

Crystal Addey

 

23 Sep

The journey of the Soul in the Platonic tradtion

Tim Addey

 

7 Oct

A Platonic look at the Odyssey 1

Tim Addey

 

21 Oct

A Platonic look at the Odyssey 2

Tim Addey

 

4 Nov

The Apology of Socrates 1

Tim Addey

 

18 Nov

The Apology of Socrates 2

Tim Addey

 

2 Dec

Apuleius’ Platonic tale of Cupid and Psyche

Tim Addey

 

16 Dec

First Steps in dialectic

Tim Addey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above syllabus is very much a draft and subject to revision as we go along.  We have highlighted in red dates when the normal fortnightly pattern is disrupted.

 

 

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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“Essentials of the Philosophy of Plato and his Tradition”

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

Click here for details

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