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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 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.

Upcoming session:

(Please note 7.30pm start times for these evenings)

 

April 23rd - Myths of Life and the Afterlife: the Phaedo

In the Phaedo after Socrates discusses the nature of the human soul with his closest companions in his prison cell, he says that it is necessary 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." He then gives a mythological overview of the conditions in which the soul finds itself both in this life and the next: it is known as "the story of the true Earth" – we'll read extracts from this likely tale, and explore its implications.

Download the text: Phaedo myth

 

April 30th - Myths of Life and the Afterlife: the Republic

For the Platonic tradition, the soul is the self that makes choices, thinks, experiences, and directs the life we live: in the 'myth of Er' given at the end of the Republic, not only is the soul depicted as undergoing judgement and receiving due reward for the life it has led on Earth but also as making a choice of its next life before the throne of Necessity and the Fates. This, says, Socrates is why we must learn how to choose the right kind of life both here and in the next world – a good life being that which leads us to being just, and a bad life being one that commits us to injustice. We'll look at the myth and consider the complex psychology enshrined in it. The Platonic tradition rests upon the affirmation that we are largely self-constituted creatures whose central task is to shape ourselves through a philosophical life.

Download the text: Myths of choice - Republic

 May 14th - Plato on Ideas

The "theory of forms (or ideas)" is perhaps the most widely known of Plato's teachings and his famous story of the prisoners in a cave who are only able to see shadows rather than real objects is equally well known as his challenge to humankind's general view that physical objects are the primary reality rather than the ideas that lie behind them. But just because the theory is widely known does not mean that it is well understood: several misconceptions about what Plato is actually putting forward need addressing if we are to clarify it before we can ask ourselves the all-important question – is it true? We'll look at Ideas and consider some of these misconceptions through selected extracts of Plato's dialogues and the Commentaries of the Platonists of late antiquity. 

Download the text: Plato on Ideas

Programme 2018

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

15 Jan *

Lecture: Living the Platonic Tradition

Tim Addey

Living Plato

29 Jan *

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

Tim Addey

Platonic vision

12 Feb *

Proclus on the Republic’s tripartite soul

Tim Addey

Proclus - the tripartitie soul

26 Feb *

Diotima's path of love [Symposium]

Crystal Addey

Diotima in Platos Symposium

12 Mar *

Orphic Myth

Tim Addey

Orphic Myth in Plato

26 Mar

Myths of Life and the Afterlife 1 - the Gorgias

Miranda Addey

Myth of Judgement - Plato's Gorgias

23 Apr

Myths of Life and the Afterlife 2 - the Phaedo

Peter Lyle

Phaedo myth

30 Apr

Myths of Life and the Afterlife 3 - the Republic

Tim Addey

Myths of choice - Republic

14 May

Plato on Ideas

Tim Addey

Plato on Ideas

21 May

Porphyry on Arete (virtue) 1

Peter Lyle

Porphyry on Arete

4 Jun

Porphyry on Arete (virtue) 2

Peter Lyle

See above

18 Jun

Tyranny in the Republic

Stuart Dunbar

 

2 Jul

Tyranny in the Gorgias

Miranda Addey

 

16 Jul

Women as philosophers in the Platonic tradition

Crystal Addey

 

30 Jul

Porphyry’s Letter to Marcella

Crystal Addey

 

13 Aug

The levels of virtue

Stuart Dunbar

 

28 Aug

No meeting - Cecil Sharp House closed for the bank holiday

 

 

17 Sep

The Gods of the Platonic Tradition 1

Tim Addey

 

1 Oct

The Gods of the Platonic Tradition 2

Tim Addey

 

15 Oct

The Gods of the Platonic Tradition 3

Tim Addey

 

29 Oct

Providence

Tim Addey

 

5 Nov

Parmenides on Nature

Peter Lyle

 

19 Nov

The Platonic tradition on Evil

Stuart Dunbar

 

3 Dec

Knowledge in the Platonic tradition

Miranda Addey

 

17 Dec

Plato on Justice

Tim Addey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above syllabus is very much a draft and subject to revision as we go along. Please note that sessions marked with an asterisk in January, February and the beginning of March will begin at 8pm and run through to 9.30 (we are running a class before each of these session which is timed to end at 8pm). 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 15th - March 19th 2018
 

Click here for details

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