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PTCOLIM

 

Virtual Events

Exploring a living tradition with the Prometheus Trust

During the covid-19 hiatus the Prometheus Trust is running a number of remote sessions (via Zoom): these are designed as supplements to those who are reading Platonic dialogues privately. We also have a readers’ forum using the Slack forum facility. If you are interested do write to education@prometheustrust.co.uk in order to register and get access. This is open to anyone, and 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 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. We do encourage those booking in to the dialogue sessions to have read the whole dialogue by the date of the first session - even if you don’t feel you have understood it!

At present we are using the ancient Platonic schools’ first cycle of ten dialogues which, as far as we can tell, was the accepted path through the writings of Plato for students coming to the tradition.

The ten dialogue cycle is: First Alcibiades - Gorgias - Phaedo - Cratylus - Theaetetus - Sophist - Statesman - Phaedrus - Symposium - Philebus.

As of October 2020 we have already looked at the First Alcibiades (2 sessions), the Gorgias (2), the Phaedo (3), the Cratylus (2) and run a single session introducing the principles of Platonic dialectic: if you have missed these, there is no problem in joining us for the sessions coming up - they are all fairly self-contained, although the multiple sessions on each particular dialogue are linked and we do ask that if you book for any dialogue you should aim to attend the two or three that cover it.

Our one-off sessions on particular subjects are run on Wednesdays at 6pm (GMT)

Our dialogue sessions are run on Wednesdays at 6pm and repeated on Saturdays at 4pm (GMT)


Nov 11th - A session on Knowledge and Opinion

Nov 18th - The Theaetetus, first session Nov 21st - First session (repeat). 

Nov 25th - The Theaetetus, second session Nov 28th - Second session (repeat)

Dec 16th - A session on Being and Ideas

Jan 13th - The Sophist, first session Jan 16th - First session (repeat)

Jan 20th - The Sophist, second session Jan 23rd - Second session (repeat)

Jan 27th - The Sophist, third session Jan 30th - Third session (repeat)

Feb 17th - A session of Arete (or virtue). Feb 20th Arete (repeat session).

Feb 24th - The Statesman, first session. Feb 27th - First session (repeat) Text:

Mar 3rd - The Statesman, second session Mar 6th - Second session (repeat)

Mar 24th - A session on the Gods in the Platonic tradition - see below

Apr 7th - The Phaedrus, first session Apr 10th - First session (repeat) - see below

Apr 14th - The Phaedrus, second session Apr 17th - Second session (repeat)

Apr 21st - The Phaedrus, third session Apr 24th - Third session (repeat)

May 12th - A session on daemons and the principles of mediation in the Platonic tradition. May15th (repeat)

May 26th - The Symposium, first session May 29th - First session (repeat)

June 2nd - The Symposium, second session June 5th - Second session (repeat)

June 30th - The Philebus, first session July 3rd - First session (repeat)

July 7th - The Philebus, second session July 10th - Second session (repeat)

July 14 - The Philebus, third session July 17th - Third session (repeat)

Each session is around 1 hour 45 minutes, and as we reach each dialogue a channel is made available in our Slack forum for the further exchange of views, questions, and insights.

We try to keep the number of participants down to 10 or less in order to give everyone involved space to explore questions which arise.

 

 

 

The Gods in the Platonic tradition

Wednesday March 24th at 6pm GMT

with a repeat on Saturday March 27th at 4pm GMT

Of all the doctrines of ancient Platonism that concerning the Gods is the most difficult for modern thinkers to take seriously: as a consequence it is quickly rejected by most would-be students of Plato and his tradition. This is a mistake: all philosophical positions require a sufficient suspension of judgement when first encountered and the more alien a position is from one’s established habit of thought, the more this is required.

There are, perhaps, two reasons why the clear Platonic affirmation of the reality of the Gods is rationalized out of sight by today’s readers of Plato: Firstly, the history of religious thought in the west in which different religious perspectives have been viewed far more antagonistically than in ancient times means that the religious underpinning of ancient Platonism is seen via two revolutions in religious understanding - that of the introduction of Christianity (in which paganism was seen as an opponent), and that of modernism (in which all religions were seen in varying degrees as irrational). Secondly, the vivid myths of the Greeks have been passed down more successfully than their theology so that tales which were never meant to be taken literally are now most people’s first (and often only) encounter with the Gods. But as the philosopher Sallust said of these myths, “these things never did happen, but always do.”

But in the long tradition of ancient Platonism the Gods were seen as an essential part of the structure of reality - so much so that theology and metaphysics are drawn together as “first philosophy” in that tradition.

We will look at this theology through the eyes of the best writers of the tradition, tracing the outlines of its unfolding of divinity from an ineffable First Principle (given the title of The Good, or The One, in Platonism) into the manifested universe which is produced and providentially provided for by Gods. This will include a brief exploration of the symbolic understanding of the myths which both veil and reveal the Gods.

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: The Gods in the Platonic tradition - discussion paper

 

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

Three virtual seminars on

Plato’s Phaedrus

Wednesdays: April 7th, 14th and 21st at 6pm GMT

With repeat sessions on Saturdays: April 10th, 17th and 24th at 4pm

 

EveningStar_EdeMorganOur continuing exploration of the late Platonic syllabus of Platonic dialogues moves on to the Phaedrus which begins with the greeting “Where are you going, my dear Phaedrus, and from whence came you?”

As befits a dialogue with such an opening, Plato lays before the reader a wide-ranging study of the soul’s cycle - her beginnings as its glimpses the beautiful truths of the eternal forms; her confusing descent into material life; the awakening of the desire to regain eternal beauty prompted by its reflections in the world of time; her reascent through the striving of philosophical Eros.

Within this survey 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.  Down load the Taylor version here: Phaedrus with stephanus pages

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