How would you like to attend a conference on philosophy as a way of life at the original location of Plato’s Academy?

We’re proposing, once the conference centre is up and running, to add an annexed Centre for Philosophy as a Way of Life. The centre will be responsible for organizing webinars and an annual conference on the practical applications of ancient Greek philosophy. It will focus on making authoritative interpretations of the dialogues of Plato, and other literature about Socrates, accessible to the general public. This builds on the growing modern interest in non-academic books about classical philosophy applied to daily life. It also differentiates the centre from the work of existing institutions in Athens, which focus primarily on the academic study of philosophy and the classics.

We envisage the work of the centre to be focused on the early dialogues of Plato, which contain his account of the life and thought of Socrates. These dialogues were once discussed in the grounds of the Academy Park by Plato’s students. From them we learn philosophical ideas and arguments but, more importantly, we learn about the Socratic Method of Questioning. Among other ways of making philosophy relevant to non-academics, we aim to explore skills-training on Socratic Questioning, based on the process, and examples, found in the dialogues of Plato. Lawyers, doctors, psychotherapists, politicians, and educators, should particularly benefit from training in philosophical methods of questioning, and critical thinking.

We intend to organize conferences on the practical benefits of teachings derived from Socrates and Plato. For instance, their relevance to modern training in leadership or psychological resilience. A range of events will be offered, drawing on partnerships with other institutions in Athens, and throughout Greece. Academic philosophers and classicists, and famous authors, will be invited to speak at the venue. The focus, though, will uniquely be upon the practical relevance of Greek thought to the modern world, including its value in different professions, and for general self-improvement.

Book Festival

We also envisage the centre organizing an annual book festival at the original location of Plato’s Academy, featuring best selling international authors of popular books drawing on Greek philosophy and literature. This would be organized in collaboration with major publishing houses, and with existing Greek academic institutions, whose professors would also be invited to participate in the events.

Our inspiration for this comes from the success of the Stoicon 2019 international conference run at the Cotsen Hall venue of the American School for Classical Studies in Athens (ASCSA). This event featured best selling authors and leading academics from other countries, and Greece, speaking to an international audience of over 300 attendees, many of whom came to Athens for the first, but not the last, time. Events of this nature give people a reason to visit Greece, and while here to learn more about what the country has to offer.

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