Plato is one of the few authors from antiquity whose written works we still possess in their entirety. He has had a lasting influence on the development of Western thought and cilture. Evelyn Underhill, “the first woman to give a series of lectures on theology at Oxford,” considered him a Mystic, while the Anglo-American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead has quipped: “Twenty-five hundred years of Western philosophy is but a series of footnotes to Plato”. The invitation is to come and see what this pillar of thought has said in his own right in his Dialogues.
In this reading group we will explore some of the major concepts developed by Plato in his Dialogues: the soul, immortality, Theory of the Forms, Virtue, Justice, Knowledge, and yes, even ATLANTIS. This reading group is not seeking philosophy majors, though they are welcome to participate; but rather philosophical neophytes and anyone else who has always had an interest in philosophy and a desire to establish that foundation firsthand with the man whose Academy was the first to admit women and which lasted centuries after his death. As philosophers go, Plato’s Socratic method is rather uncomplicated to read and because of the deep infiltration of some of its themes in Western culture, somewhat easy to digest. This group will utilize a seminar format for discussion of the works selected. It will not be a class on Plato, but discussion on his works that the participants bring to the table after each reading.
We will meet in the Bound room of the Providence Athenæum on the fourth Saturday of each month from 10:30 am till 12:00 noon. We will meet on Saturdays because it is my firm belief one needs a clear and well rested mind to discuss philosophy and learn from each other.
September 28 | Protagoras
October 26 | Meno
November 23 | Gorgias
January 25 | Republic
February 29 | Phaedo
March 28 | Symposium
April 25 | Phaedrus
May 23 | Timeaus
June 27 | Critias
There are two excellent texts containing the works of Plato in a single volume; either is highly recommended and pages for both will be listed next to the Dialogues when the group has been determined.
Plato: The Collected Dialogues including the Letters. Eds. Edith Hamilton & Huntington Cairns. Bollingen Series LXXI. Princeton: Princeton Universsity Press, multiple year printings.
Plato: Complete Works. Eds. John M. Hamilton & D.S. Hutchinson. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Co., 1997.
There are also a great and varied number of publications (too numerous to provide here) which include one or several of Plato’s works. While participants are welcome to use such books, the challenge will be to gather together the specific dialogues which will be read in this seminar/reading group.
In addition to print material, participants may prefer access to online reading. Kindle does offer an electronic version of the work published by Hackett Publishing. Also, Project Gutenberg is an excellent online source for materials.
A little more antiquated in their renditions is the Open Library.
Please note carefully, any participant who chooses a text outside of either of the two which are highly recommended, must determine for themselves that all of the readings are present in the work/s and format/s they have chosen.
If one is inclined to go beyond the works slated for discussion and/or would like to delve deeper in establishing their knowledge base, then I would simply suggest two works which of themselves are NOT required readings, but may enhance understanding.
Plato. Constance Meinwald. New York/Abingdon: Routledge, 2016.
The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Ed. Richard Kraut. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, multiple printings.
Leonard Cambra has been a language instructor since 1990. He has taught high school Spanish in private and public schools as well as English to adult learners at multiple non-profits in the city of Providence. Currently he is the Foreign Language Department Chair at Woonsocket High School. He is licensed by the RI Department of Education to teach Social Studies, Spanish, and Philosophy. He Holds a B.A. in Philosophy from St. John’s Seminary. He holds Master degrees in Religious Studies, Educational Leadership, and Spanish. He holds a doctoral degree from Virginia Theological Seminary, the largest seminary in the Anglican Communion. He and his partner Mark reside in the Elmhurst section of Providence and are proud residents of the Renaissance City, taking full advantage of its theater, fine restaurants, and Independent bookstores. They have called Providence their home for the last 16 years and marvel at its continual transformation.