10 week evening course in Bristol

Practical Philosophy

Make life Make sense

Courses in practical wisdom for everyday living.

Discover The Wisdom Within

New course in Bristol

Enrol below

Starts: Wed 24th Jan 2024

Time: 7pm-9:15pm

Limited places

Philosophy aims to set you free. Free from pressures and worries, free from limiting ways of thinking, free to grow and be yourself.
Take your first steps to freedom with our 10 week course.

find wisdom within

Local Course

Local face-to-face course in Bristol for our local in-person course.

Peace of Mind

Following all Health & Safety guidelines for your complete peace of mind.

Practical Wisdom

Courses in practical wisdom for everyday living. Meet with like minded individuals.

Only £60

10-week course only £60. Limited spaces. 

This popular course is practical rather than academic and draws on sources of wisdom from East and West, past and present.

Explore Life To The Full… through 10 weekly sessions

How the course works

This Bristol course offers a practical means to discover fully who we are, understand how to relate to the world we live in and see what gets in the way of being happy, peaceful and free.

  • Students are encouraged to test the ideas put forward in practice for themselves, in the light of their own experience.
  • A tutor presents philosophical ideas, and leads a discussion based on what arises in the group.
  • Practical rather than academic with  the emphasis on personal knowledge and experience.
  • A Tool kit is provided of practical and mindful exercises.
  • Fresh thinking you can put into practice today
  • New insights, Fresh Perspectives, Expertise in good company

By attending this 10 week course you will learn practical exercises that will help you

  • Reduce stress
  • Understand yourself and others
  • Make better decisions
  • Find contentment and simple happiness
  • Discover the joy of living in the present moment
  • Learn how to harness the transformative power of attention
  • Uncover inner wisdom, potential and purpose

Next course in Bristol

Practical Philosophy Enrolment

Course Fee £60

Limited places

Self-enquiry through practical philosophy

Themes included in the course:

Philosophy and Love Course

Since the time of the ancient Greeks the question what is love has been a mainstay of philosophy. Our word ‘love’ is rather general. It covers a great variety of feelings. The ancient Greeks considered it in three ways.

– 3 forms of love, eros, philia, agape

– Everyone has pure love within his nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotation:

“Not to love is not to live, or it is to live a living death. The life that goes out in love to all is the life that is full, and rich, and continually expanding in beauty and in power. Such is the life that becomes ever more inclusive, and hence larger in its scope and influence. The larger the man or the woman, the more inclusive they are in their love and their friendships.

The smaller the man or woman, the more dwarfed and dwindling their natures, the more they pride themselves upon their ‘exclusiveness’. Anyone – a fool or an idiot – can be exclusive. It comes easy. It takes and it signifies a large nature to be universal, to be inclusive. Only the man or the woman of a small, personal, self-centred, self-seeking nature is exclusive. The man or the woman of a large, royal, unself-centred nature never is. The small nature is the one that continually strives for effect. 

The larger nature never does. The one goes here and there in order to gain recognition, in order to attach himself to the world. The other stays at home and draws the world to him. The one loves merely himself. The other loves all the world; but in his larger love for all the world he finds himself included.”

The Expression of Love

– Expression of love through wisdom, attachment or delusion

– Thomas à Kempis – ‘love knows no measure’

Quotation: “Everyone has pure love within their nature and all strive to express this love through the creation.”

This is perhaps a startling proposition. When we look around and see wars, violence, hatred, greed and the like it does not seem to be the result of an effort to express pure love through the creation. So how do such things come about?

Thomas a Kempis Quotation:

“Love knows no measure, but is fervent above measure. Love feels no burden, disdains no labours, would willingly do more than it can; complains not of impossibility because it conceives that it may and can do all things. It is able therefore to do anything and it performs and effects many things, where he that loveth not faints and lies down.

Love watches, and sleeping slumbers not; when weary is not tired, when straitened is not constrained; when frightened is not disturbed; but like a lovely flame and a torch all on fire, it moves upwards and securely passes through all opposition. Whosoever loveth knoweth the sound of this voice.”


Love and Constancy

There is a strong Platonic influence throughout Shakespeare’s work, which is why it is of interest philosophically.

The common theme in the sonnets is love. Shakespeare describes love in a most refined and beautiful manner. Simply by hearing and connecting with his poetry the listener can also experience the love that is described.

– Love and constancy – ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds..’

– Love is the natural in between

– Boethius – while in prison, Philosophy spoke to him


love is something unnatural, it would be difficult if not impossible for it to be constant. The effort to maintain it would be too great. On the other hand if love is natural then the constancy would also be natural.

Quotation: “Love is the natural in-between.”


The Object of Love

– The object of love

– Viktor Frankl

– Upanishads, Yajnawalkya and Maitreyi

  • The physical body
  • The way a person behaves
  • The way a person thinks
  • The way a person feels

Victor Frankl Quotation:

“We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles.

Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbour’s arm.

Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk.

Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: ‘If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

What happens next is quite a transformational story of connecting with love.

The Upanisads and Love.


The Causes of Duaity

– causes of conflict/hostility/duality

– Meeting everyone as if for the first time


“Love is the motive force behind all the processes at work in the world to sustain it. It could never be sustained without love. In the case of human life, its examples are the love of parents, the love of brothers, the love of friends and colleagues etc. Even the behaviour of insects and moths seem to be based on some form of love. So much so, that the ultimate cause of hostility is also love, because hostility springs up when love is hindered. Thus a duality of love and hostility prevails everywhere. We want a thing we love; if we do not get it, we turn hostile. A love free from the above duality is true love.”

Quotation Nelson Mandela:

“No man is born hating another person. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

The causes of conflict and duality.

Love and Gratitude

– Love and gratitude

– Marcus Aurelius

– Inner organ of mind

We are going to consider the relationship between love and gratitude.

What do we think the relationship is? What is the effect when either we express gratitude to others or others express gratitude to us? What is the effect on love?

Quotation from Marcus Aurelius:

“1. Courtesy and serenity of temper I first learnt to know from my grandfather Verus.

2. Manliness without ostentation I learnt from what I have heard and remember of my father.

3. My mother set me an example of piety and generosity, avoidance of all uncharitableness – not in actions only, but in thought as well – and a simplicity of life quite unlike the usual habits of the rich…”

The nature of the mind and heart.


– The love poetry of Rumi

– The book of Mirdad

When the inner realm of mind and heart works well there is a natural harmony.

Einstein Quotation:

“The longing to behold harmony is the source of his inexhaustible patience and perseverance… The state of mind that enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to the religious worshipper, or the lover; the daily effort comes from the heart.”

Love: Rumi

– Ficino – revere yourself

– Epictetus – use of buddhi – division of what you can change and what you can’t change

– Vice admiral Stockdale


You come to us from another world

From beyond the stars and void of space.

Transcendent, Pure, Of unimaginable beauty,

Bringing with you the essence of love

You transform all who are touched by you.

Mundane concerns, troubles, and sorrows dissolve in your presence,

Bringing joy to ruler and ruled

To peasant and king You bewilder us with your grace.

All evils transform into goodness.

You are the master alchemist.

You light the fire of love in earth and sky in heart and soul of every being.

Through your loving existence and non-existence merge.

All opposites unite. All that is profane becomes sacred again.”



The Subtle Realm, Epictetus

The influence of Epictetus has been enormous. His philosophy influenced the ancients such as Marcus Aurelius, as well as the Islamic East, such figures as Pascal and Descartes and more current ideas such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Positive Psychology.

One of the great influences on Epictetus was the philosopher Socrates. Many centuries later another person who Socrates had a great influence on was Marsilio Ficino who lived in Florence between 1433 and 1499.


“If you want to be loved, then love.”



Wise Law & Love. Love & Work

– Love and law based on wisdom; analogy of potter

– Love and work – three forms: love, duty, reward

– Work is love made visible

Consider the relationship between law and love.


“Work is love made visible.”

Love and Knowledge


“Love and knowledge are the same thing but the function of love is to join together and that of knowledge to tell, to illuminate.”


Philosophy and Happiness Course

Holidays come and go. Clothes wear out. Bank accounts go up and down. Through all this,
the desire for happiness is a compass point.

The desire for happiness is hard-wired into human nature because happiness is part of our nature. But something’s blocking the flow. The Happiness course opens the gate and sets you on your way and focuses on meeting the perennial need for everyone to find the well-spring of happiness through all of life’s changing circumstances.

This course will calibrate your compass, provide a map and refresh your navigation skills.

Happiness and Service

Happiness and service. Is happiness natural?

Is happiness natural? Happiness and law

What is true happiness? Is this natural to a man or woman? How may it be experienced fully and how is it lost? Is it permanent or transient?

Happiness and utilitarianism

Happiness and law; Happiness and utilitarianism;

Happiness and pleasure, Epicurus, Aristippus, Plato

Happiness and pleasure, Epicurus, Aristippus, Plato

The Platonic goods which lead to happiness

The Platonic goods which lead to happiness

Lao Tzu, finding inner equilibrium

Lao Tzu, finding inner equilibrium

An introduction to Marsilio Ficino

An introduction to Marsilio Ficino

Happiness: contentment, Patanjali

Happiness: contentment, Patanjali

Finding happiness in work

Finding happiness in work

Happiness and Wisdom

Happiness and Wisdom

The Wisdom Within

These opening sessions consider how philosophy can help us enjoy richer, less stressful lives. What is practical philosophy? ‘What would a wise person do here?’ Philosophy means the love of wisdom. Our course is intended to show how philosophy can help us enjoy richer, less stressful and more useful lives. This opening two sessions consider these aims, and introduces simple exercises in mindfulness and the application of wisdom you can practise in daily life. You can download or listen to the Awareness Exercise, introduced in week one here. To download, right-click, choose ‘Save link as…’ and save the MP3 wherever you want. You can also download a PDF of the Awareness Exercise

Know thyself

Who or what am I? What is my potential? Who am I, really? My body? My emotions? My strongly held beliefs? My soul? Possibly all of these? Possibly none? Such questions have preoccupied philosophers down the ages. We look at practical ways to explore who we really are and how to tap our true potential.

Being awake

What is our state of awareness? Why does it fluctuate during the day? Often the most notable quality of wise people is their alertness to the subtleties of a situation. They are awake, perceptive and curious. We look at deeper levels of awareness, and consider how we may become more awake to ourselves, our surroundings, and the events we meet.

The present moment

Living in the now, mindfulness. What is the potential of the present moment? We review our own experience of attention through a model featuring attention centred, captured, open and scattered, and how these each relate to the past, present and future. We examine the extraordinary brightness and freedom naturally available in the present moment. A straightforward practice is introduced.

Living justly

Plato’s views on justice. What does it mean to live justly? According to Plato, justice and injustice do not start ‘out there’. They begin within us. For justice to prevail, Plato suggests that we must learn to avoid being ‘tyrannised’ by our passions and fears to the extent they overrule our reason. We discuss the practicality of Plato’s ideas on justice in our daily lives.

The Threefold Energy

The Vedic model of three fundamental energies. Sometimes we seem not to have enough energy, or the wrong kind. A wise person can act consistently despite these varying conditions. We consider how to recognise differing energies, how to gain and conserve them and how to use them wisely.

The light of reason

What is reason? How can it enrich our lives? We look at guidelines for Socratic dialogue and how to use them. Developing reason in decision-making and action are also discussed, with practical applications. Obstacles to reason are considered. Everyone has the faculty of reason and we can all use it and develop it.

The power of beauty

What is beauty?

Is there such a thing as absolute beauty?

Beauty has the capacity to open the heart and bring delight. In this session we discuss our direct experience of beauty in its different form: of the sensory world, of thought, of feelings, of the inner nature, and of conduct.

We consider Plato’s idea of there being ultimately one beauty – beauty absolute – ‘not knowing birth or death, growth or decay’.

Unity in diversity

Looking for the common thread in life. What is the effect of finding unity? When we look around, we see enormous diversity in nature. The wise person looks for the unifying factor: that which allows all this apparent diversity to be seen as part of a single whole. Seen in this way, life then has the best chance of being led freshly and openly.

The desire for truth

What is truth? How does the desire for truth show itself? Practical philosophy is about discovering the truth of things – not theoretically, but in our own experience. In this final session we look back and ask ourselves how our search for truth has fared as the term has progressed. We discuss what has been discovered and how, in our own way, we may continue to develop it in our daily lives.


Introductory Offer

Practical Philosophy Course for Life
£ 60 (normally £80)
  • 10 weekly sessions
  • Refreshment break
  • Limited places

Find Us on the Map

Frequently asked questions

The course is practical in the sense that it takes philosophical ideas and shows how they can be of direct use in our everyday lives. The intention is to stimulate enquiry and through this expand the way we look at the world and ourselves.

Online by clicking ‘Enrol Now’ on this page, or by calling 07873230651
or emailing [email protected].

If you register online, you will receive a confirmation email with your day of attendance. If you register by any means other than online, you will receive a receipt confirming your registration.

No, all you need is an open and enquiring mind. The course is intended for everyone, regardless of education, occupation, race, political or religious belief.

Face-to-face meetings will be held safely following the latest updates relating to all Health & Safety guidelines for your complete peace of mind.

Yes, we also offer the course as an online course via Zoom, ask for details.

First you need to enrol on a course. The in-person courses are available in Bristol and at many other local venues up and down the country. A local map can be found on this page.

If you have any questions simply call Tony Setchfield on 07873230651 or by emailing

[email protected]

What some of our students say...

philosophy course reviews
“Absolutely loving the course!!"

“Absolutely loving the course!! …Really changing how I think about things and life in general.”

philosophy course reviews
“...I am benefiting greatly ..."

“...I am benefiting greatly from the content and the practical nature of it. Thank you, it is enriching my life.”

philosophy course reviews
“I feel more relaxed...”

“The daily awareness exercises … have changed my thinking and I feel more relaxed about situations in the media and other aspects of my daily life.”

philosophy course reviews
"...helped me..."

"The knowledge and experience that I have gained from the philosophy classes has helped me to discover more about myself and better prepare for dealing with life's daily surprises and challenges."

Course Enrolment: 10wk Practical Philosophy Course Bristol

Bristol In-person enrolment