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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:

 

 

 

October 23rd - Roots of Platonic Dialectic 1 - Heraclitus

 

Is dialectic a method serving the practice of any philosophy? Or is it a fundamental part of a specific philosophical tradition? The term dialectic (or dialectics) itself is formulated and developed in Plato's dialogues for the first time. Each hypothesis about the roots of Platonic Dialectic implies a different interpretation of dialectics, but each conception of these roots could be taken as a moment of the history of dialectics. In Heraclitus' fragments, we have a theory of becoming established on the idea of opposites. These opposites in Heraclitus do not exclude the idea of harmony and the necessary trust in the unity of Logos. Plato was taught in Heraclitus to go beyond the principle of contradiction, even if he apparently criticizes his theory of becoming.  

Download the text: Roots Dialectic - Heraclitus

 

November 6th - Philosophy and the art of questioning - Plato’s Euthyphro

 

The setting for Plato's early dialog, Euthyphro, is in front of the offices of the magistrate who has registered and will make preliminary inquiries into the serious charges levied against Socrates for the crime of "impiety." In an effort to prepare himself for the trial, Socrates questions a young man he knows, who claims to have had a lot of spiritual experience, in an effort to understand the nature of piety. Along with a number of interesting points, their interaction exposes what has since become one of the key questions of the Platonic tradition: is what we call "piety" loved by the gods because it is pious, or is "piety" pious simply because it is loved by the gods?  What is it that draws us toward the sacred, the sacred itself? or what we think the gods/God/others are drawn to as sacred? We'll spend some time discussing this subtle question, called the "Euthyphro dilemma", and try to translate it into language that appeals to more modern sensibilities.  Along the way, we'll see how this question opens a door to the whole Platonic worldview and get a glimpse of how much Platonism influenced subsequent religious ideas. 

Download the text: Euthyphro extract

November 20th - Roots of Platonic Dialectic 2 - Parmenides

 

And the Goddess received me kindly, and took my right hand with her hand,
And uttered speech and thus addressed me:
“Youth attended by immortal charioteers,
Who come to our House with mares that carry you,
Welcome: for it is no ill fortune that sent you forth to travel
This route (for it lies far indeed from the beaten track of men),
But right and justice. And it is right that you should learn all things,
Both the steadfast heart of persuasive truth,
And the beliefs of mortals, in which there is no true trust.”

Thus does the seeker of Parmenides' profound poem, On Nature, find welcome and begin his initiation into the ways of truth-finding. The mixture of positive and negative statements found in the poem are, perhaps, the clearest roots of the kind of dialectic that Plato demonstrates in so many of his dialogues - and indeed the most determined exposition of this technique is to be found in the dialogue named after his predecessor. In this session we'll read from some of the passages of Parmenides' poem and from Plato's dialogue, the Parmenides, and take an introductory look at this powerful instrument of discovery.

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

Crystal Addey

Introducing-Iamblichus

9 Oct

Plato's Cave and Myth [The Republic]

Peter Lyle

Resting in Myth

23 Oct

Roots of Platonic dialectic 1 - Heraclitus

Tim Addey

Roots Dialectic - Heraclitus

6 Nov

Philosophy and the art of questioning - Plato’s Euthyphro

Stuart Dunbar

Euthyphro extract

20 Nov

Roots of Platonic dialectic 2 - Parmenides

Tim Addey

 

4 Dec

Plotinus on Dialectic

Tim Addey

Plotinus - dialectic

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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