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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. * Please note that there are five evenings at the beginning of the year when we will be running these sessions from 8 to 9.30 - these are marked with an asterisk in the date column. *

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:


April 10th - Orphic Myth and Platonic Philosophy.

Orphic myth - the half seen spirit behind the philosophy of Plato


Plato drew upon many sources as he explored the profound truths which are presented in his dialogues, but perhaps none are more fundamental and far-reaching than that of the Orphic teachings.

The Orphic myths offer insights into the nature of reality, the place of the human self within that reality, the path we take as we experience life and death, and the possibilities of a radical change in consciousness if we can find our way through the twists and turns of the labyrinth that lies before each one of us. We will look at some of the strange gold tablets found in Orphic initiates' graves and which carry cryptic instructions for the afterlife and consider the implications of the writings on the Derverni scroll (an Orphic teaching text, and the oldest surviving manuscript in the world). We will see if we can connect these to some of the passages in Plato's Phaedo - the dialogue in which Socrates discusses the possible immortality of the soul and its relation to the mortal body.

(This is the second evening of two in which we are exploring this subject - however we’ll summarize what we discussed on the first evening, so if you missed that one you shouldn’t have any difficulty pick up the threads of the previous session.)

Downloading the text: Orphic and Platonic teachings.


 April 24th - Know Thyself - Plato’s primary exhortation.


In the Platonic schools of late antiquity, Plato's dialogue The First Alcibiades was considered the best introduction to the study of philosophy. At its heart lies the exhortation to "know thyself" which was said to be inscribed above the entrance to the Sanctuary at Delphi in which the oracle of Apollo was given to those who sought to answer life's questions.

In this session we’ll read a passage from the dialogue and consider the reasons why Plato and his tradition considered the Delphic exhortation to be so important. Various questions will, no doubt, be raised:

What does it mean to know the self? Is it even possible to know the self? What effect does self-knowledge have on the rest of one’s knowledge? What kind of being is it that must work at knowing the self? Does the attempt to know the self change the direction of life?

Downloading the text: Know Thyself - Platos first exhortation


May 8th - 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 finds 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."

This will be the first of two sessions: we will read and discuss the first half of the text tonight, and continue with the second half on June 5th.

Download the text: Plotinus on Beauty - text for study


May 22nd - The Platonic Tradition looks at Evil.


What is evil? Does it exist, or is it merely an experience? Does it arise from a principle, and if so, what kind of principle could it be? Can something or somebody be "pure evil"? What happens if we claim that evil does not exist?

These and similar questions have been asked by human beings throughout history – and at particular times with an urgency born from the press of circumstances. What does the Platonic tradition have to say about such matters?

We will look at this important subject through the writings of Plotinus and Proclus who both wrote treatises aimed at clarifying our thinking about evil and its place in the scheme of things.

Downloading the text: The Platonic tradition looks at evil


Programme 2017

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

Subject [and text]


16 Jan *

Lecture: the Platonic Tradition

Tim Addey

30 Jan *

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

Tim Addey

13 Feb *

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

Tim Addey

27 Feb *

Diotima's path of love [Symposium]

Tim Addey

13Mar *

Orphic Myth and Platonic Philosophy 1 [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

27 Mar

Socrates as the philosophic Theseus [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

10 Apr

Orphic Myth and Platonic Philosophy 2 [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

24 Apr

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

Tim Addey

8 May

Plotinus on the Beautiful 1

Peter Lyle

22 May

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

Tim Addey

5 Jun

Plotinus on the Beautiful 2

Peter Lyle

19 Jun

Knowledge in Plato’s Theaetetus [Theaetetus]

Miranda Addey

3 Jul

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

Ariadne Pascalidi

10 Jul

Knowledge in Plato’s Sophist [Sophist]

Miranda Addey

31 Jul

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

Tim Addey

14 Aug

Plato's Cosmic Ecology [Timaeus]

Tim Addey

28 Aug

The philosophic death in Plato's Phaedo 1 [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

11 Sep

Unity and Being in the Platonic tradition

Tim Addey

25 Sep

The philosophic death in Plato's Phaedo 2 [Phaedo]

Tim Addey

9 Oct

Plato's Cave and Myth [The Republic

Peter Lyle

23 Oct

Roots of Platonic dialectic 1 - Heraclitus

Ariadne Pascalidi

6 Nov

Sallust on Myth [Sallust on the Gods and the World]

Peter Lyle

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

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

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