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Plato for Everyoneby Aviezer Tucker
Synopses & Reviews
How do we decide what is good and bad? What is virtue? What constitutes a meaningful life? These are some of the intractable, still-relevant questions that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato grappled with 2,500 years ago. Unfortunately, Plato's dialogues, featuring his famous mentor Socrates, often prove difficult to understand for many contemporary readers. Students today miss the ancient cultural and historical references, and they have trouble following Plato's arguments as presented in dialogue format.
This book remedies these problems by recasting five of Plato's dialogues into accessible and entertaining short stories in modern settings. The Euthyphro becomes a tale about a televangelist bent on disowning his son at a denominational boarding school in rural Virginia; the Crito - retitled "What do you have to do for your country?" - is focused on the question of whether a US citizen who considers a current war to be unjust should avoid a military draft by moving to Canada. In all of the stories (the Meno, the Statesman, and Phaedo are also included), the central character is Socrates, just as in the original dialogues, but here the maverick philosopher appears in twenty-first-century guise. The author, who has taught philosophy for many years, captures the tone, wit, and philosophical essence of Plato's dialogues in a modern English interpretation that is often amusing and fun to read.
For instructors looking for an engaging way to interest undergraduates in Plato and for students who find the original works a bit daunting, this book offers an enlightening and enjoyable read.
"In this adaptation, University of Texas philosophy professor Tucker (Our Knowledge of the Past) updates five of Plato's most resonant dialogues by recasting the scenes and topics around a modern Socrates. Affixing Socrates to a series of contemporary backdrops and replacing his toga with a fatigued t-shirt and jeans, Tucker seeks to break the ice between 21st century students and the philosopher whose nuanced meaning and humor are too often lost on contemporary readers. This revitalization project works best regarding situational shifts (grounding Socrates' social contract theory in his decision to obey draft orders) and conceptual translations (construing the Greek arte as all-American coolness). Anachronisms and detail contradictions, however, can prove distracting. Justin Bieber and President Obama typify cool, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito serve to demonstrate Socrates' rule of opposites, but a cool housewife, in this mash-up of New York City and a Greek agora, is one who obeys her husband and cool guys are known to patronize the 'discos'. Though it presents a mottled cultural timeframe, the book does accomplish its primary aim: fleshed out with references to latter-day conveniences and modern history, Socrates' theories of epistemology, pure ideas, and much more translate clearly. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Aviezer Tucker (Austin, TX) is the author of Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography; The Philosophy and Politics of Czech Dissidence: From Patocka to Havel; and numerous scholarly articles. He is also the editor of A Companion to the Philosophy of History and Historiography. He has taught philosophy at universities throughout the world and currently works at the University of Texas-Austin.
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