New South Wales
4 Jan 2017
We have been asking – and answering, to various degrees of success – two questions for as long as we have been human.:
1. What does it all mean?
2. How do I live the best life?
Probably the best answers were given over two thousand years ago. Jesus, the Buddha, Socrates and others all produced enduring legacies.
I belong to the School of Practical Philosophy, which gives students a grounding in practical – as opposed to academic – philosophy. Skills in life and mind which are actually useful.
I regularly travel to a residential week, where for several days I leave the outside world to study some philosophical aspect in detail along with other students. The program involves meditation, reading, and discussion, led by scholars of experience and weight.
This last week we studied Plato’s dialogue on the death of Socrates in 399 BC, an event which had an enormous (and ongoing) effect on Western philosophy. Dr David Horan, from Trinity College in Dublin, was good enough to share his learning with us. He is coming to the end of a ten-year project to translate the complete works of Plato, something which has not been done since Jowett in the Nineteenth Century.
It all sounds rather dry, I suppose, but it’s a joy to participate in the intellectual discussion of serious subjects in depth, in good company, in a tranquil setting, with coffee and wine involved. The actual residence is at Mahratta, an Art Deco mansion on Sydney’s North Shore, set in a huge and established garden.
A beautiful house, with many formal rooms, though the student accommodation tends more to the youth hostel bunk bed end of the market.
How this relates to travel? Not directly, but it explains why I have not been posting for the past week, and travel itself is so much richer with an open mind. Do we travel to get drunk on some tropical beach, or to find our true place in the universe?