Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

I declare an interest upfront – I am a student of ancient Greek philosophy. So I was attracted to this book partly because I need to know more and more about Plato but, more importantly, because it looked like an intriguing read. And so it is.

The central conceit is that Plato is put in modern situations: visiting Google HQ, appearing on a combative television programme and having an MRI scan. These are all very funny and nicely crafted. Deliberate simulacra of Platonic dialogues, they set out ideas through the ebb and flow of debate. But the book is more than just a ‘Bill and Plato’s Excellent Adventure’. 

Most of the book is a very readable account of Plato’s ideas, the context in which he developed them and current controversies that surround them. The author takes on, in particular, those who say that philosophy is redundant because all it can do is raise questions that science is answering and will continue to answer as it develops further. Obviously, she does not agree and neither will most readers of this book.

It is witty, clever, and great fun, while at the same time dealing with the biggest of issues. Excellent.


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