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PTCOLIM

 

London Evening Sessions:

The Examined Life

 

 

"The unexamined life is not lived." – Socrates, The Apology.

Cecil Sharp House, Regents Park Road, London NW1 7AY

 

The Prometheus Trust runs regular monthly meetings in London. We meet at Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, London NW1 7AY (5 to 10 minutes walk from Camden Town Tube) from 6.30 to 8pm – 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 18 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.

 

We also run similar sesions in Bristol every month on Monday evenings (usually on the penultimate Monday): click here for details.

Upcoming sessions for 2024:

 

29th January: Providence, Fate and the human soul

The Platonic tradition holds that the soul is a mysterious and amphibious creature that must negotiate two worlds, that of eternal being and that of time-bound “becoming.” What kind of experiences arise from these two orders of reality? In what way are they related? How is each order regulated? And how does the soul unfold its nature within the confines of each?

We will spend our evening exploring these questions and consider the nature of the two worlds as expressing the underlying divine powers the tradition understands as Providence and Fate. Using small extracts from the writings of Plato, Plotinus and Proclus as starting points we will expore the important area of philosophy.

 Paper: Providence, Fate and freewill

26th February: Platonism as a spiritual discipline

“Philosophy is a thing of the greatest consequence, and it is only to be obtained by great study and mighty labour.  For he who hears that this is the case, if he is truly a lover of wisdom, and is adapted to and worthy of its acquisition, being a divine person, will think that he hears of an admirable way, that he ought immediately to betake himself to this path, and make it the great business of his life.” – Plato, Seventh Letter.

Has the West been misreading Plato for the last several centuries? Does the prevailing view that Plato is simply a rationalist with some cultural baggage from his pre-philosophical background stand up to scrutiny? Or should we consider him (and those who followed his tradition in antiquity) as primarily working on a clear spiritual path as profound and as demanding as any from the East. And if this is truly the case, what does this entail and is it still viable in our time?

Paper: Philosophy as a Spiritual Path

25th March: The Myth of Er (Rep. bk 10) - The choice of life

Towards the end of the Republic, Plato offers his readers a story of the soul as following a repeated cycle of choosing a life, living that choice, the reaping of its consequences, and back to the next choice. How are we to understand this?

The reading of symbolic myths which Plato scatters in a great many dialogues presents us with difficulties over and above that of simply reading his rational arguments: can we steer a path through the swirling narrows between Scylla and Charybdis – the literal reading of his stories, and the twisting of them by wishful fancies? We will explore the myth of Er as a way into such questions.

Paper:

26th April: The Theaetetus - what is knowledge?

Since human beings largely live well or badly according to their grasp of knowledge, the theme of the Theaetetus – what is knowledge? – presents us with an important question. Although the dialogue is ultimately inconclusive, leaving us to continue along the path to a truthful end, nevertheless, Socrates affirms that understanding some possible answers as dead-ends is a useful exercise. At the very least, says Socrates, the young and thoughtful Theaetetus will “be less troublesome to your companions, and more moderate and mild; in consequence of not thinking that you know things which you do not know.”

We will explore passages from the dialogue, with a view to becoming ourselves more moderate and mild!

Paper:

27th May: Triads - a framework for exploring Platonic philosophy

The use of connected triads in Platonic texts throughout the long history of the tradition seems, at first, either arbitrary or unimportant: but perhaps it is grounded in the reality of a universe which is both stable and dynamic. We will explore the tradition’s use of triads as a possible key to our progress in both cognitive and life-affirming activities.

Papar:

 

The following is a draft syllabus for 2022/23: descriptions and downloadable text will be available as each date approaches.

Subject [and text]

Presenter

File download

29 Jan

Providence, Fate and the human soul

Tim Addey

Providence, Fate and freewill

26 Feb

Platonism as a spiritual discipline

Tim Addey

Philosophy as a Spiritual Path

25 Mar

The myth of Er (Republic book 10) - the choice of life

Miranda Addey

 

26 Apr

The Theaetetus: What is knowledge?

Miranda Addey

 

27 May

Triads – a framework for exploring Platonic philosophy

Tim Addey

 

24 Jun

 

 

 

29 Jul

 

 

 

26 Aug

 

 

 

30 Sep

 

 

 

28 Oct

 

 

 

25 Nov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Regents Park Road, London,
NW1 7AB
              

(From Camden Town tube, walk westward along Parkway, towards Regent’s Park and turn right along Gloucester Avenue at the secod set of lights: the venue of about 200m ahead.)

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“Essentials of the Philosophy of Plato and his Tradition”

- a ten week introductory course January 16th - March 19th 2020
 

Click here for details

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