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Plato at the Googleplex

Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away

By Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
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Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Plato at the Googleplex examines contemporary issues through the lens of Plato’s philosophical questioning. The book explores the life and times of Plato as well as how his philosophy and thoughts on love, education and ethics can be a model for us today.

Key idea 1 of 9

Plato’s ideas have far outlived their time and still affect our lives today.

If you’ve ever been bored in a history or philosophy class, you’ve probably wondered what relevance Plato, an ancient Athenian philosopher who lived 2,400 years ago, holds in our twenty-first century lives? What, if anything, can we learn from him?

Although many of the facts surrounding Plato’s life and times undoubtedly seem barbaric from our modern perspective – such as the possession of slaves and sexist attitudes – the philosophical insights found in his dialogues nonetheless raise fundamental questions about who we are and how we should live.

Plato’s writings pose many questions that don’t have easy answers, and are still just as open to interpretation as they were thousands of years ago.

The Symposium, for example, includes dialogues on the meaning of love and the responsibilities that come with it. In The Republic, too, we find discussions on what kind of political organization is best. These questions hardly have cut-and-dry answers. In fact, we struggle with them to this day!

What’s more, Plato’s writings provide us with these timeless questions in a way that doesn’t require us to dig into the past to find answers relevant for today.

In addition to posing timeless questions, Plato also set the foundations for exploring the meaning of life by examining our own lives and the lives of those around us.

In Plato’s Apologyapologia means “defense” in ancient Greek – the character of Socrates, who in real life had been accused of impiety, corrupting the youth and bringing false gods into the city, proclaims that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” In essence, we should strive to have new experiences and question norms in order to find the best way to live.

But we don’t even have to read Plato’s works in order to appreciate his relevance. In fact, our contemporary methods of trying to make sense of the world around us owes itself completely to Plato’s philosophy.

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