Melbourne’s silly season looks not to be so silly this year with COVID restrictions continuing to keep us indoors and online just as the evenings start to fill with light and warmth. Our final sessions for the year begin right after Melbourne Cup week with the ever-popular introductory course, Reading Plato (Tuesdays from 10 Nov), and then one other pre-Christmas special where we reflect on the Platonic origins of Christianity (Mondays from 9 Nov).
Christianity’s beginnings as a Jewish sect are hard to miss, but the subsequent Hellenistic influences are often neglected or ignored. Folks are often surprised to find just how Hellenistic Christianity actually is! The influence of Platonism from the earliest times through to the Renaissance is a rich and fascinating tale. Platonism and Christianity will be more a lecture series than a reading group. It is open to all, including those who have not yet completed Reading Plato. And while some knowledge of Plato and of Christianity will be an advantage, those lacking in this background should still enjoy these classes.
The Spring Reading Plato groups are now moving on to one of Plato’s most influential dialogues, Phaedo, set in prison on Socrates’ last day. This modern British screen adaptation of Crito and Phaedo might aid engagement with the philosophical discussion.
Last night in Platonic Love we discussed how Plato identified the motive of love for a beloved with the motive for wisdom, remembering after all that his practice was called ‘philosophy’, which literally means ‘love of wisdom’, love of Sophia.
Plato’s Symposium is one source of a tradition of mysticism where a powerful desire for Sophia drives the soul upwards towards the beloved first principle. When finally arriving at desireless union, the ego-self simply fades away.
Reading Plato Spring class starts online three weeks from Wednesday. Please enrol soon if you wish to also order the book, as postage is proving slow these days. [UPDATE: another class now Mondays nights (enrol )]
For continuing students, the ‘Platonic Love’ course outline is now available. Our copies of Symposium and Phaedrus arrived this week. We are pleased to report that all remnants of Victorian bashfulness have disappear in the new Penguin translations, and that the accompanying notes are concise and informative. These dialogues will be posted out shortly. If you still wish to enrol, then please do so soon because the course is nearly booked out.
By all reports, the transition to online has been a success. Some folks even say they prefer Zoom! The bonus is that we are already taking booking from outside Melbourne (Sydney, Brisbane & Adelaide). We might even continue some online courses post-Covid. So, please spread the word among your local and interstate friends. The more enrolments, the move we can offer.
If you’re new to philosophy then take our introductory course. But if you’ve done a bit before, then this might be the course for you: Plato and the Philosophy of the Unsayable. MSCP is a great Melbourne institution promoting philosophical studies outside the scope of university courses. At their 2020 summer school they have asked us to teach Plato as you would never know him at uni. Join us on five Thursday evenings from 16 Jan 2020. MSCP even video the sessions if you can’t make it to Melbourne.