explorations in transformation
St. Paul writes “…do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your minds” (Romans 12.2)
Philosophy means ‘love of wisdom’.
All genuine philosophy is concerned not just with ideas but with formative practice. It is a path or way of life which seeks the conditions for optimum human flourishing.
The Greek philosophical tradition has deep roots in the Ancient Near East. In the Hebrew bible we read: ‘Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you” (Proverbs 4). This wisdom is not just an intellectual pursuit: the builder, the artisan and the skilled singer all embody wisdom.
In the 2nd century after Jesus, early Christian apologists described their faith both as ‘the way’ and ‘the true philosophy’. In the monastic schools of the desert, this way of wisdom was seen as comprising three interwoven strands: praxis, theoria and gnosis (which correspond approximately to body, soul and spirit).
Many centuries have passed but transformative wisdom remains an absolute concern, perhaps now more than ever. Old certainties are exposed as partial or flawed and thus over-turned. Can we even speak of body, soul and spirit in a scientific age? Yet people, adrift in a sea of apparent relativism and thoroughgoing materialism, still search for both anchor and pole star. Do the old ways, however humbled, still have something to offer? What might an embodied, practical, and transformative wisdom entail in this age? What might it mean to live philosophically, in a Christian key whilst remaining open to the wise insights of other traditions?
If these questions seem important to you, it is proposed to explore them through a fortnightly gathering (more or less), reflecting honestly on our own lived experience, sharing some simple practical exercises, chewing on some succinct texts (both pre- and post-modern) and journeying beyond knowing and unknowing in the paths of infinite desire.