Can a 2,400 year old thinker possibly have anything of interest to say to us in the modern world? Yes, says Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, philosopher at Columbia, Harvard and other institutions. Not only does the thinker in question, Plato, provide arguments and views on issues still troubling us today. His entire project, philosophy, is alive and kicking. Goldstein argues convincingly that modern science has not and cannot supplant philosophical reasoning as such. She shows why there are some philosophical problems which science alone cannot answer. Personally, I don’t need to be convinced about this, but there are clearly many scientists who believe philosophy in general is a waste of time.
Goldstein makes her case in the book Plato at the Googleplex. Why Philosophy won’t go away. It is a wonderful book, clear, lucid and a good read. Imagining that Plato came back from the dead, she explores how he would see our world, highlighted by a visit at Google’s headquarters. How would we in the modern world meet the challenge of Plato’s views and arguments? How would he respond to our views? The text of the book never gets in the way of the thinking. I was a bit apprehensive that the author would be tempted by the premise to go wild describing amusing culture clashes involving ancient Plato in modern times, but those fears turned out to be unfounded. However, I have one important issue with how Plato is portrayed.
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