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PTCOLIM

 

London Evening Sessions:

The Examined Life

* Please note these sessions are suspended while corona virus emergency conditions continue - click here for remote zoom sessions *

 

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

Saint Pancras Community Association, 67 Plender St, London, NW1 0LB

Click here for details of our Essentials of the Philosophy of Plato and his Tradition (on Thursday evenings in Kilburn) starting on 16th January 2020

 

The Prometheus Trust runs regular meetings in London. We meet at Saint Pancras Community Association fortnightly on Monday evenings, from 7.00 to 8.30 – 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 fortnightly on Wednesday evenings: click here for details.

Upcoming sessions:

13th January: Plato’s Philebus: What is the principal good of human life?

 

What is the chief good of human life? How does a human being find true happiness, rather than its shadow? In Plato’s Philebus two possible answers are offered by the main speakers: Protarchus argues for pleasure while Socrates argues for wisdom. But is there a third possibility? Socrates suspects so, and in a brilliant thought experiment reveals it.

We will look at three passages (one of which includes an important section on the techniques of philosophic truth-seeking) and join in their discussion. The options that the dialogue lays before us may have profound implications for the problems that press in on humanity in the coming decades.

 

Download the text: The Philebus

27th January and 10th February: Metaphysical Foundations

The modern age is reluctant to engage with metaphysics: perhaps because the prevailing view is that there is a high degree of unreality intrinsic to non-physical objects; perhaps because trying to frame metaphysical laws is deemed to be too difficult or too big for ordinary human minds; perhaps because metaphysics is thought to have no relevance to practical life. But are any of these possibilities true?

The truth is that just because we don’t consciously engage with metaphysical concepts, doesn’t mean that we are not basing our life on a set of metaphysical assumptions: these assumptions are likely to have profound consequences on our decision-making processes. From this point of view metaphysics underpins ethics.

We plan to run two sessions looking at a few propositions from Proclus’ Elements of Theology (sometimes known as the Elements of Metaphysics). The first session will centre on the questions surrounding the unity and multiplicity inherent in reality; the second will explore some of the rules of causality that Proclus identifies.

 

Download the text 27th January: Metaphysical foundations 1

Download the text, 10th February: Metaphysical foundations 2

24th February and 9th March (POSTPONED) Cupid and Psyche - a Platonic Tale

 In the second century AD, Apuleius, a Platonic philosopher, retold the myth of Cupid and Psyche in the course of his novel, 'The Golden Ass.' We will read passages from the myth, and explore the clear parallels between the trials of Psyche as she loses and regains her union with Cupid (or Eros), and our own experience of descent and ascent as souls â€œexiled from the orb of light” as understood by the Platonic tradition.

We’re taking two sessions to explore the delightful story and its insights - in the first we’ll look at the double descent of Psyche at the end of which she is left to wander across the material world in search of her divine lover. In the second one we'll summarize the first session before we begin, so those who missed it can pick up the threads of the story. This second half concerns Psyche's re-ascent and her trials and initiations which lead to the reunion with her lover.

For those who would like to read the whole story, as told by Apuleius here it is in PDF:

Cupid and Psyche

Download the study text: 24th - Cupid and psyche - Descent

Download the study text: 9th - Cupid and Psyche - Ascent

Programme 2020

 

The following is a draft syllabus for 2020: descriptions and downloadable text will be available as each date approaches.

Subject [and text]

Presenter

File download

13 Jan

Philebus: Goodness: pleasure or wisdom

Miranda Addey

The Philebus

27 Jan

Proclus on Metaphysical foundations - One and Many

Tim Addey

Metaphysical foundations 1

10 Feb

Proclus on Metaphysical foundations - Causes

Tim Addey

Metaphysical foundations 2

24 Feb

The myth of Eros and Psyche 1 - descent

Tim Addey

Cupid and psyche - Descent

9 Mar

POSTPONED The myth of Eros and Psyche 2 - ascent

Tim Addey

Cupid and Psyche - Ascent

23 Mar

POSTPONED Reminiscence in Plato’s Meno

 

 

6 Apr

POSTPONED Can virtue be taught?

 

 

20 Apr

POSTPONED The Platonic tradition on consciousness 1

 

 

4 May

POSTPONED The Platonic tradition on consciousness 1

 

 

18 May

Plato on the Good

 

 

1 June

Plato on Wisdom

 

 

15 June

Plato on Beauty

 

 

29 June

Philosophy and nature and ecology

 

 

13 July

Philosophy and nature and ecology

 

 

27 July

Plato’s First Alcibiades and the soul-body question

 

 

10 Aug

Plato on human society

 

 

7 Sept

Platonic Philosophy as a spiritual path

 

 

21 Sept

Providence

 

 

5 Oct

Fate

 

 

19 Oct

Freewill

 

 

2 Nov

Socratic Questioning

 

 

16 Nov

The One and the Gods in Platonism

 

 

30 Nov

Gods in Greek Myth

 

 

14 Dec

Plotinus - insights into the Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above syllabus is very much a draft and subject to revision as we go along.  

 

 

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:

Saint Pancras Community Association,
67 Plender St, London,
NW1 0LB
              

(From Camden Town tube, walk south down Camden High Street (towards central London) for
400 metres, and turn left down Plender St - the Community Centre is about 100 metres along on the left.)

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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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