Wow – certainly one of the best non-ficiton book I’ll read this year unless some amazing books show up. What Goldstein has done, in addition to explaining a lot about the ideas of Plato and Socrates as well as their ideas and the environment of ancient Greece is to that bring Plato into the 21st century and use the question/response dialogue technique on current viewpoints. (I both read and listened to this and it was so worth it – the Audible does not include the impressive footnotes, but Dennis Holland does an excellent job reading the dialogues. – However, if I had to choose one or the other of the versions, I’d choose the Kindle version.)
So Plato shows up at the Google complex in Mountain View, California to discuss knowledge (the “cloud” and “crowd-sourcing” fascinate him) along with Marcus Aurelius and his fictional book-tour guide, Cheryl, who is working with some publisher to promote his books.
Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away
by Rebecca Goldstein
2014/ 434 pages
read by Dennis Holland – 16h 43m
rating: 10 / nonfiction-philosopy
(both read and listened)
Then after another well-footnoted information chapter, “In the Shadow of the Acropolis,” which gives a lot of background on Plato’s Athenian environment, he appear onstages at the 92nd Street Y in New York for a panel discussion where child-raising is the theme. The other panelists include an expert, a “tiger-mom,” who believes in pushing children to be exceptional and one who very much opposes any oppression of children. (Plato wants pushing for the best without the parental oppression.)
And so the book progresses with a fact- and explanation-filled, wonderfully footnoted and nicely written Chapter of information followed by a Chapter of 21st century “dialogue” between Plato and one or two other people which is related to the information in the prior Chapter. Plato works with the above characters plus an advise columnist (Dear Abby kind of thing), a cable TV news host, and a couple of brain scientists. The result is both amazingly informative and great fun – but it’s not a quick read – it’s meant to be savored.
Critics have said that Goldstein cherry-picked and over-simplified the arguments of her fictional Plato’s opponents but – isn’t that what Plato himself was accused of doing when his critics said he created straw men? lol – Oh well –
The concepts developed in the book make for some challenging reading but Goldstein never gets overly serious. And then she gets to hilarious.