Is philosophy obsolete? Are the ancient questions still relevant in the age of cosmology and neuroscience, not to mention crowd-sourcing and cable news? The acclaimed philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein provides a dazzlingly original plunge into the drama of philosophy, revealing its hidden role in today’s debates on religion, morality, politics, and science.
At the origin of Western philosophy stands Plato, who got about as much wrong as one would expect from a thinker who lived 2,400 years ago. But Plato’s role in shaping philosophy was pivotal. On her way to considering the place of philosophy in our ongoing intellectual life, Goldstein tells a new story of its origin, re-envisioning the extraordinary culture that produced the man who produced philosophy.
But it is primarily the fate of philosophy that concerns her. Is the discipline no more than a way of biding our time until the scientists arrive on the scene? Have they already arrived? Does philosophy itself ever make progress? And if it does, why is so ancient a figure as Plato of any continuing relevance? Plato at the Googleplex is Goldstein’s startling investigation of these conundra.
She interweaves her narrative with Plato’s own choice for bringing ideas to life - the dialogue.Imagine that Plato came to life in the twenty-first century and embarked on a multicity speaking tour. How would he handle the host of a cable news program who denies there can be morality without religion? How would he mediate a debate between a Freudian psychoanalyst and a tiger mom on how to raise the perfect child? How would he answer a neuroscientist who, about to scan Plato’s brain, argues that science has definitively answered the questions of free will and moral agency? What would Plato make of Google, and of the idea that knowledge can be crowd-sourced rather than reasoned out by experts? With a philosopher’s depth and a novelist’s imagination and wit, Goldstein probes the deepest issues confronting us by allowing us to eavesdrop on Plato as he takes on the modern world.
"Dennis Holland has his work cut out for him as he must create a vocal identity for Plato and a host of other characters in this audiobook. He does well with creating a consistent fictional Plato, and, while not all his characters sound real, he does vocally guide listeners through the complex content." (AudioFile)
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Was looking forward to it, can't bear it
I really looked forward to this. And there are some good parts, leading to introspection and deeper thought. But in some unfortunate convergence of story and narration the result is quite annoying. The voices make me cringe. The characters in the dialogs are horrible. And the overall impression is kinda of well, just downright annoying. Preachy, trite, a bit silly. It is in the end, perhaps just too patronizing. Like the author and/or narrator is "talking down" to the listener.
Probably not, but can't say for sure.
Not so sure about that. I have developed a pretty bad association at this point with some of the voices in this book.
Yes, the subject matter is potentially interesting, the context is a great idea, and at times it does deliver. It stretches you to think a little more about both yourself, the world around you and your reaction to it. But you pay a high price to get there, too high.
Don't talk down to your audience!
- John the Skeptic