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PTCOLIM

 

Bristol Wednesday evenings
study & discussion sessions

 

“The whole life of a philosopher is a dance. Terpsichore, therefore, is the inspective guardian of all dancing. Who then are those that honour the goddess in the dance? Not those who dance well, but those who live well through the whole of the present existence, beautifully arranging their life, and dancing in symphony with the universe.”
                                                                                                         Hermeas

The Prometheus Trust runs fortnightly philosophy sessions in Bristol on Wednesday evenings from 7.00 to 8.30pm at:

 St Paul’s Learning Centre

94 Grosvenor Rd, Bristol BS2 8XJ

Further details from education@prometheustrust.co.uk or phone 01594 726296

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 2 and 3 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.

Upcoming sessions in 2019:

 

25th September: Plato on Justice

A recurring theme in the dialogues of Plato is the profound relationship between the human self and justice: all ten books of the Republic are dedicated to the examination of this relationship, and although the speakers often turns aside to explore other issues, the central theme is never far away. Towards the end of the dialogue, Socrates says that the most important thing to study is the good life and that, having an eye to the nature of the self, we should comprehend “both the worse and the better life, pronouncing that to be the worse which shall lead the soul to become more unjust, and that to be the better life which shall lead it to become more just, and to dismiss every other consideration.” We notice that the point of focus here is the soul (psyche) – that invisible something that is understood to be the unific seat of selfhood, which gives life to the body, and which has the power to know and to make choices. It is on this understanding that all the important ethical principles of Platonic philosophy are based.

We’ll read an extract from the Gorgias which puts forward profoundly challenging consequences to this soul-centred view of life and its ethical dimensions, and discuss our understanding of the issues raised.

Download the text: Justice in the dialogues of Plato

9th and 23rd October: A Platonic view of the Odyssey

Homer, that half-legendary, half-historical figure who links the oral story-telling age of mythology to the literate age of high Greek civilization is known for his two great epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey: the Platonic tradition mined both works for their profound insights into the human condition. Over two evening sessions we will concentrate on the Odyssey which is seen by Platonic philosophers as a representation of the soul's re-ascent to her true home – the celestial "Ithica." The tests that Odysseus undergoes as he makes his way from the shores of Troy, laden with treasure, to the cave upon Ithica's shore in which the Goddess Athena appears before him can be considered as images of the various trials each of us must face as we cross the ocean of life before regaining the lost empire of the soul. We will draw upon the writings of the neoplatonists and on Thomas Taylor’s essay ‘On the Wanderings of Ulysses’ and consider what lessons the epic holds for us and our own wanderings.

Download the text: A Platonic view of the Odyssey

6th and 20th November: The Apology of Socrates

Plato’s account of the apology or defence offered by Socrates in his trial when charged with impiety and the corruption of youth in Athens is one of the great moments in philosophic literature in the west. It demonstrates the seriousness with which Socrates took his quest for wisdom - a search which even the threat of death could not prevent. The priority that the Platonic tradition gives to the care of the soul over and above all other human endeavours is encapsulated in Socrates exhortation, “O best of men, since you are an Athenian, of a city the greatest and the most celebrated for wisdom and strength, are you not ashamed of being attentive to the means of acquiring riches, glory and honour, in great abundance, but to bestow no care nor any consideration upon wisdom and truth, nor how your soul may subsist in the most excellent condition?” And perhaps we who live in a civilization which we consider to be marked by intelligence and strength should attend to that plea with greater thought than Socrates’ earlier judges. We will read and discuss the Apology over two sessions (starting the second session with a short summary of the first half, for those who are absent from the first session).

Download the text: Apology of Socrates

 

Draft syllabus for 2019

Please note - where we slip out of the normal fortnightly pattern the dates are in red

Subject [and text]

Presenter

File download

23 Jan

Platonic Letters on the Philosophic Life 

Tim Addey

Letters on the Philosophic Life

6 Feb

On Philosophy and Creativity 

Tim Addey

Philosophy and Creativity

20 Feb

On Freewill 

Tim Addey

The Platonic tradition and Freewill

6 Mar

Women in Philosophy 

Crystal Addey

Women Philosophers and the Platonic Tradition

20 Mar

A Platonic look at the Iliad     

Tim Addey

A Platonic look at Homers Iliad

3 Apr

Ideas in Plato and his tradition

Tim Addey

Plato and Ideas

17 Apr

Porphyry and the philosophic death

Miranda Addey

Porphyry and the philosophic death

15 May

Plotinus on the Beautiful 1

Tim Addey

Plotinus - Beauty

22 May

Plotinus on the Beautiful 2      

Tim Addey

Plotinus - Beauty

19 Jun

The experience of self in Plato’s Phaedrus

Miranda Addey

The experience of the self in the Phaedrus

3 Jul

Platonic education in the Phaedrus

Tim Addey

Platonic education and the Phaedrus

17 Jul

Plato’s Philebus and the Prometheus myth

Tim Addey

On Prometheus in the Philebus

31 Jul

Philosophy and mystical initation

Tim Addey

philosophy and the mysteries

7 Aug

Sun, sight, intellect and transcendency

Tim Addey

The Sun, sight, intellect, transcendency

21 Aug

Plato’s Cave

Tim Addey

The Cave

25 Sep

Plato on Justice

Miranda Addey

Justice in the dialogues of Plato

9 Oct

A Platonic look at the Odyssey 1

Tim Addey

A Platonic view of the Odyssey

23Oct

A Platonic look at the Odyssey 2

Tim Addey

A Platonic view of the Odyssey

6 Nov

The Apology of Socrates 1

Tim Addey

Apology of Socrates

20 Nov

The Apology of Socrates 2

Tim Addey

Apology of Socrates

4 Dec

Apuleius’ Platonic tale of Cupid & Psyche

Tim Addey

 

18 Dec

First Steps in dialectic

Tim Addey