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PTCOLIM

 

Virtual Events

Exploring a living tradition with the Prometheus Trust

The Prometheus Trust runs a number of remote courses (via Zoom) for both newcomers to Platonism (click here) and those who are more well established (here). But we also run open sessions on a less structured basis, taking particular topics or passages from Plato and other writers in the tradition - these are open to anyone interested, and they attract a wide range of participants. We usually begin with a short 5 or 10 minute introduction to the subject in hand and (when appropriate) a reading of a short text: this leaves a good hour or so to discuss the ideas which arise.

Where a short text is to be discussed you will find it available for downloading a few days before the date of the session.

If you are interested do write to education@prometheustrust.co.uk in order to register and get access. There are no fees payable.

The Trust sees the Platonic tradition as a spiritual one: not only a guide for the outer life, but especially to be treasured for its assistance in the cultivation of the inner self - the soul - for, says Plato in the Timeaus, “we are not terrestrial plants, but blossoms of heaven.” We understand the tradition to be profound and cohesive, and one that repays the long-term effort required to truly embed oneself in it. Our approach is not exclusive - we value other traditions for their insights - nor is it dogmatic or an attempt to proselytise: however we are serious in our attempts to fathom the depths of the tradition, to identify its foundations, and where its teachings seem to run counter to accepted thinking to investigate them thoroughly rather than rejecting them prematurely. Thus our point of focus is on the teachings of the tradition and most especially our own inner response to them.

By joining our studies you are making no commitment beyond that of co-operating with us in our exploration of those truths which have inspired a company of men and women most luminous in their understanding, and unsparingly generous in their teaching. 

Upcoming dates and subjects of open sessions


All dates are Tuesdays, running from 7.45pm to 9.15 - with our
apologies to those in time zones which make these awkward!

October 12th: “Know Thyself” - Plato’s first exhortation. Introduced by Tim Addey. Paper: Know Thyself - Platos first exhortation

October 26th: Plato’s Cave. Introduced by Miranda Addey. Paper: The Cave - extract for reading

 

Daemons as intermediaries between Gods and mortals.

Wednesday May 12th at 6pm BST

with a repeat on Saturday May 15th at 4pm BST

 

As is the case with most theological matters in Plato and his tradition, the understanding of the nature and place of daemons in the scheme of the universe is profoundly misunderstood in the modern age. In both Christianity and the modern imagination, daemons are almost always malignant - if, that is, their existence is even accepted. But in the Platonic tradition they are seen as essentially good and as playing an important role in the divine drama that is perpetually enacted throughout the manifested universe. To the modern ear talk of daemons as a reality seems outlandish, but this is because our view of science is coloured by a mechanistic worldview: the primary question has become “how?” rather than “why?” For Plato all creative action centres on intelligence contemplating purposes and paradigms; those who assist in the creative process must, therefore, share that ability in the appropriate degree: daemons, as the Symposium explains, are just such assistants for their work is -

“To transmit and to interpret to the Gods what comes from men; and to men, in like manner, what comes from the Gods; from men their petitions and their sacrifices; from the Gods in return, the revelation of their will. Thus these beings, standing in the middle rank between divine and human, fill up the vacant space, and link together all intelligent nature. Through their intervention proceeds every kind of divination, and the priestly art relating to sacrifices, and the mysteries and incantations, with the whole of divination and magic. For divinity is not mingled with man; but by means of that middle nature is carried on all converse and communication between the Gods and mortals, whether in sleep or waking.” (202e-203a)

This one-off Zoom session is a chance to explore the ancient Platonic perspective on the place of the principle of mediation in metaphysics and the nature and activities of daemons in the Cosmos, as outlined in some of the most important surviving writings of the tradition on the subject.

We have a short discussion paper as a prompt to our exploration, but the session will allow participants to follow many threads the tradition weaves around the subject, as they see fit: On daemons and the principle of mediation in the Platonic tradition

The session will begin with a short introductory talk - perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in length, and then, as usual, we will open the session up for a general discussion of the subject.

There are no charges for participation, but registration is required. To register for a place please email education@prometheustrust.co.uk

Two virtual seminars on

Plato’s Symposium

Wednesdays: May 26th and June 2nd at 6pm BST

With repeat sessions on Saturdays: May 29th and June 5th at 4pm BST

 

diotima1Our continuing exploration of the late Platonic syllabus of Platonic dialogues moves on to the Symposium. This is one of the great philosophical works of the world: in it a group of well-educated gentlemen settle down to discourse on Love - the first five speeches proceed with the expected wit and insight. But into this circle of Athens' intelligentsia Socrates introduces the initiating priestess Diotima. He recalls how she taught him the hidden mysteries of the “great daenon” Eros – a strange intermediary between mortals and the immortal Gods, an unconquerable power who calls each of us towards divine beauty, a conductor of souls to their happiest life. When the Socrates’ invocation of Diotima is complete, Plato has a final seventh speech to offer us - perhaps a glimpse of a mystery within a mystery.

In Plato’s profound and beautiful dialogue are many important insights into the nature of philosophy - its station between the human and the divine, and its cultivation of the living and eternal ideas which are embedded in the soul 

We will be using the Thomas Taylor translation but if you have a different translation you should be able to follow our progress. The Trust publishes the Symposium both in hardback form (in the Works of Plato, volume 4) and in paperback which is part of our ‘Student’s Edition Series’ - this paperback includes the dialogue and over 100 pages of supplementary material (click here Morpho-Telemachus-icon

Download the Taylor version here: Symposium download

Each session will begin with a short talk on some aspect of the dialogue - perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in length, and then, as usual, we will open the session up for a general discussion of the subject.

There are no charges for participation, but registration is required. To register for a place please email education@prometheustrust.co.uk

 

Three virtual seminars on

Plato’s Philebus

Wednesdays: June 30th, July 7th and 14th at 6pm BST

With repeat sessions on Saturdays: July 3rd, 10th and 17th at 4pm BST

the_branches_and_roots_of_an_olive_treeOur continuing exploration of the late Platonic schools’ syllabus of dialogues moves on to the last of the 10 dialogues of the first cycle - the Philebus.

What do we understand by the term “the Good?” The Platonic tradition saw the Good itself as the great source and goal of all things, and as such not only the transcendent first principle but also the immanent ground of all things. Implicit within the scope of the universal good, however, are specific goodnesses towards which particular things move, each in their own fashion. 

For the human being the fullest understanding of its particular goodness is essential since the life we lead is more or less self-determined, and based on the goal we imagine is the best. Is our goodness simply pleasure or is it the pursuit and gaining of knowledge and wisdom? Or perhaps it is some third thing? As something which both desires and knows the human being is complex, and it is likely that the answer to these questions requires careful thought: this is the subject of the Philebus.

It is, perhaps, strange - at least a first sight - that a dialogue which is addresses psychological and ethical questions should be the culmination of the 10 dialogue cycle of the Platonic schools of late antiquity, which gravitates towards metaphysics and theology. But when explored carefully we find that the Philebus unfolds some of the most sublime conceptions of divine ontology in its quest to discover the good of the human being. 

We will be using the Thomas Taylor translation but if you have a different translation you should be able to follow our progress. Here is a PDF of the dialogue: Philebus introduction text and notes

Each session will begin with a short talk on some aspect of the dialogue - perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in length, and then, as usual, we will open the session up for a general discussion of the subject.

There are no charges for participation, but registration is required. To register for a place please email education@prometheustrust.co.uk