When the soul inquires alone by itself
it departs into the realm of the pure, the everlasting, the immortal and the changeless,
and being akin to these it dwells always with them whenever it is by itself,
unhindered, at rests from its wanderings…
This state is called wisdom.
Is it not so?

– Plato

Plato and Platonism have profoundly influenced European civilization, and yet the Plato taught in Western schools and universities is distorted so much to meet the rationalism and materialism of today that the power of the original is often all but lost. It was in this view that we established the Platonic Academy of Melbourne late in 2018.

The Platonic Academy of Melbourne is a non-profit community organisation run by volunteers. It was founded in 2018 by David Valkenet, Angus Conley and Bernie Lewin. During our first year we published a book and ran two pilot introductory evening courses for those new to both Plato and philosophy.

Angus, Bernie and David
Angus, Bernie and David just before Bernie left for the Laws of Form conference, Liverpool, August 2019.

The first course was an introduction to Plato through reading selections from his dialogues. The second was an introduction to Platonic esoteric geometry. These classes were conducted in a lounge room in suburban Brunswick.

After the success of these pilots, we looked around for a more central Melbourne venue, and that was when we found the Greek Community of Melbourne most welcoming to our venture. During the COVID lockdown we launched our first online courses, which soon involved interstate students.

The first ‘Reading Plato’ class of 2019

The Platonic Academy of Melbourne was incorporated in 2021. The first governing board included Effie Parthimos, Mary Mitrakas, Maria Atlas-White and Phil Kafcaloudes. John Vlahos joined the board in 2021, Paul Sheehan in 2022, and Marguerita Adam in 2023. Maria Atlas-White was elected to the chair of the Board in 2023.

Bernie Lewin, Phil Kafcaloudes, Maria Atlas-White and John Vlahos
Bernie Lewin, Phil Kafcaloudes, Maria Atlas-White and John Vlahos

Bernie Lewin was the first instructor and remains the academic director. He has long been persuaded that Plato provides the best approach to understanding knowing and being. He finds this understanding insightful, transformative and instructive on how to live the good life. It has also shown him how the unity of mysticism and science can be achieved, indeed that it is already present in our modern science. Bernie has published widely in the history of science, including articles on the Platonic foundations of mathematics (see here and here) and a historical introduction to Platonic science that was published by the Academy in 2018, Enthusiastic Mathematics.

The intention is to recruit more instructors as the curriculum expands. In 2021 the artist and geometer Nabeel Khan was recruited to co-present Platonic Esoteric Geometry. Later in 2021, in a collaboration with the Independent School of Philosophy, Martin Black began teaching Ancient Greek Language and the First Philosophers.

See what students have said about the courses

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Platonic Academy Ltd is a registered non-profit business in Australia | ACN 650 386 959 | ABN 26 868 203 902.