Saturday, April 05, 2008

CFP: "Philosophy and Divine Speculation," 3rd Annual Conference, Prometheus Trust, Glastonbury, Somerset, July 3-6, 2008.

Plato in his Timaeus (53d) sees the path of philosophy as leading to a knowledge of eternal principles which are “known to Divinity and to the man who is in friendship with Divinity” while Thomas Taylor begins his introduction to the Works of Plato by comparing philosophy with “a luminous pyramid, terminating in Deity and having as its basis the rational soul of man.” In these terms philosophy involves both a speculative investigation of highest origins of the universe and, more importantly, the means whereby the human may regain the vision or speculation of eternal truth as described in the Phaedrus – “There are many, therefore, and blessed spectacles and processions within the heavens, to which the genus of the blessed Gods is converted” and which we “partly see indeed, and are partly destitute of vision.” This conference will, we hope, explore the ancient discipline of divine philosophy, as well as attempt to see how modern developments in philosophy can be reset, so to speak, within its original purpose. Papers are invited from lovers of wisdom - academics and non-academics - in the following areas:
  • Epopteia - Philosophy and the Mysteries: the final stage of the mysteries of Eleusis was known as Epopteia - interior inspection: Plato draws upon the insights and experiences of the mysteries, notably in the Phaedo, to show how they are allied to those of philosophy. Papers exploring the relationship between the various mystery centres of the ancient world and its leading philosophical systems, together with those examining what this might mean for today's philosophers, are sought for this area.
  • Philosophy and Contemplation: the exercise of philosophy, although often seen as a conversation with others, is primarily a movement inwards towards the simple self and the Divinity concealed within - the "alone calling to the alone." But this is a difficult matter for the teacher of philosophy to pass on to the pupil, and while the East still promulgates contemplative and meditative practices within its various philosophical systems, this is largely neglected in the West. How is this to be remedied? How are we to follow Plotinus when he writes, "But soul, perpetually turning round intellect, which it constantly beholds, and viewing its most intimate recesses, contemplates through this also, as a mirror, the supreme divinity, The Good Itself, and in this delightful employment the tranquil and blessed life of the gods consists..." Ennead I, iv, 2.
  • Philosophy, Mythology and the Divine Drama: philosophy developed and matured in a culture deeply embedded in myth and religious cultus, where both human and cosmic life was deemed to follow a pattern first unfolded by the Gods. For many the relationship between the metaphysical reality of the Gods and the invented stories of their generation and dramas presents difficulties: but can philosophy's deepest truths be understood without approaching it as inseparable from its ancient twin?
The conference will take place over three days, with each day being directed one of the above areas. Keynote Address: The keynote address, “Lifting from a Wave of Intellect” will be given by Tim Addey on Thursday evening. The Thomas Taylor Lecture: On Saturday evening, Dr Steve Critchley will be giving the 3rd Thomas Taylor Lecture, entitled “Thomas Taylor and the Fire of Mystical Inspiration in Prose, Poetry and Prayer.” This annual lecture is given in honour of Thomas Taylor, and this year, the 250th anniversary of his birth, we think it fitting that it should centre on the man himself. Steve has recently been awarded a doctorate by the University of York for his thesis on “Pagan Taylor: the Emergence of a Public Character 1785-1804.” He is at present working on a full biography of Thomas Taylor which is likely to be published later this year. Full details are to be found on the Trust’s website

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