The usual approach to philosophical ideas is through careful dialectical reasoning and over recent centuries this has become an almost exclusive method – but this was not always the case, and in ancient times myth was an integral element of philosophy. Today – at least in the West – stories are more or less ignored by philosophers unless they are seen as supplements to questions of ethics: but can they reveal profound metaphysical truths?
No exposition of truth can ever quite capture the thing-in-itself, and the danger of highly technical language is that this can give the impression that it does so. The absurdities of myth, however, speak to us as stories do to children – they reveal, but at the same time let us know that the world is a strange place, driven by the power of an unspeakable mystery. Further, the murmur in the ear lets the hearers know that they, too, are a inseparable part of the unfolding of that mystery – neither the beginning of it, nor its end, but at once both the hearer and teller of the tale.
This weekend is a chance to explore the profoundest metaphysical truths through ancient stories which were thought to do more than merely inform or entertain their hearers – rather, they were understood to be transformative and to carry seeds of initiation. The Prometheus Trust centres its activities on the Platonic tradition which itself had roots in the Orphic mystery cult: we will draw on these ancient roots, and invite them to work their magic on our souls. Two of the last heads of the Platonic Academy in Athens before it was closed by an Imperial edict in 529 AD were Proclus and Damascius: both combine careful dialectic reasoning with a profound and wide-ranging understanding of Orphic and other initiatory myths – we will use some extracts from their writing as guides to our explorations.
The weekend will run from 7pm on Friday evening to 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Our venue is a retreat house in Purley Chase, Mancetter, Warwickshire (about 100 miles north of London, and near a mainline station): it provides comfortable accommodation and all meals, giving a choice of meat, vegetarian or vegan options. The cost of the accommodation and food is £105 non-en suite, or £125 for an en suite bedroom per person per weekend.
The Trust comes from a tradition that does not see wisdom as something to be bought and sold, nor as an external possession nor a professional qualification. The fees payable are set to cover accommodation and other small incidental costs. Where participants may struggle to pay these fees, we try to ensure that this is not a barrier to participation, and should you find yourself in such a position, you should have no hesitation in approaching the Treasurer to ask for a bursary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Further details and booking forms can be obtained by contacting the education secretary at email@example.com
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