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Publisher's Summary

Is philosophy obsolete? Are the ancient questions still relevant in the age of cosmology and neuroscience, not to mention crowd-sourcing and cable news? The acclaimed philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein provides a dazzlingly original plunge into the drama of philosophy, revealing its hidden role in today’s debates on religion, morality, politics, and science.

At the origin of Western philosophy stands Plato, who got about as much wrong as one would expect from a thinker who lived 2,400 years ago. But Plato’s role in shaping philosophy was pivotal. On her way to considering the place of philosophy in our ongoing intellectual life, Goldstein tells a new story of its origin, re-envisioning the extraordinary culture that produced the man who produced philosophy.

But it is primarily the fate of philosophy that concerns her. Is the discipline no more than a way of biding our time until the scientists arrive on the scene? Have they already arrived? Does philosophy itself ever make progress? And if it does, why is so ancient a figure as Plato of any continuing relevance? Plato at the Googleplex is Goldstein’s startling investigation of these conundra.

She interweaves her narrative with Plato’s own choice for bringing ideas to life - the dialogue.Imagine that Plato came to life in the twenty-first century and embarked on a multicity speaking tour. How would he handle the host of a cable news program who denies there can be morality without religion? How would he mediate a debate between a Freudian psychoanalyst and a tiger mom on how to raise the perfect child? How would he answer a neuroscientist who, about to scan Plato’s brain, argues that science has definitively answered the questions of free will and moral agency? What would Plato make of Google, and of the idea that knowledge can be crowd-sourced rather than reasoned out by experts? With a philosopher’s depth and a novelist’s imagination and wit, Goldstein probes the deepest issues confronting us by allowing us to eavesdrop on Plato as he takes on the modern world.

©2014 Rebecca Goldstein (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Dennis Holland has his work cut out for him as he must create a vocal identity for Plato and a host of other characters in this audiobook. He does well with creating a consistent fictional Plato, and, while not all his characters sound real, he does vocally guide listeners through the complex content." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Was looking forward to it, can't bear it

What disappointed you about Plato at the Googleplex?

I really looked forward to this. And there are some good parts, leading to introspection and deeper thought. But in some unfortunate convergence of story and narration the result is quite annoying. The voices make me cringe. The characters in the dialogs are horrible. And the overall impression is kinda of well, just downright annoying. Preachy, trite, a bit silly. It is in the end, perhaps just too patronizing. Like the author and/or narrator is "talking down" to the listener.

Would you be willing to try another book from Rebecca Goldstein? Why or why not?

Probably not, but can't say for sure.

Would you be willing to try another one of Dennis Holland’s performances?

Not so sure about that. I have developed a pretty bad association at this point with some of the voices in this book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes, the subject matter is potentially interesting, the context is a great idea, and at times it does deliver. It stretches you to think a little more about both yourself, the world around you and your reaction to it. But you pay a high price to get there, too high.

Any additional comments?

Don't talk down to your audience!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful book

Great for anyone who is curious about philosophy, and it's probably even more entertaining if you have a philosophy background. I was a philosophy major and Plato is one of my all-time favorites. This book literally brings him to life and applies his philosophy to the modern world.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Good Idea But ...

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If the book at been what it first seemed to be - an exciting look at the philosophy of Plato in today's world.

Would you ever listen to anything by Rebecca Goldstein again?

Yes, she can write well but sometimes seems to put in a lot of 'filler' to beef up a simple point.

How could the performance have been better?

The book was well narrated.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes. it does look at today's world and place it in a larger context.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Yawn

Any additional comments?

Only worthwhile if one is completely alien to philosophy, and then Sophie's World or the Dreamweaver are way better as introductory texts.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A little too clever for my tastes

I only got through about a third of this book. I thought it was very clever but also perhaps too clever for its own good. That's because I thought its pace of developing its narrative and providing fresh insights was too slow.

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Philosophy needs more of this

This brings philosophy ALIVE! As a former philosophy instructor I never go this part right. I find philosophy very compelling as it has taken up most of my life. Unfortunately too much is BORING. Deeply appreciate this book.

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Once Ms. Goldstein has blown me away!

When I was young and in college, Plato filled my heart and head with thoughts & ideas that would guide my entire life. I had forgotten just how much. And, now, at age 73, this terrific book was an “oh, that’s where this all comes from” reminder. Dejavue all over again. At the same time, the book is also very timely..it shines a light on many things that we are just not getting right today. And she has illuminated the notion that all philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. Placing Plato in current settings makes you realize that his genius has never faded. Thank you for a terrific book.

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    5 out of 5 stars

A brilliant, mind challenging, enlightening book!

I am an admirer of Rebecca Golstein's writing. One of the most inteligent books ever.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Philosophy or Science-Which do you choose?

The narrator was excellent. He brought the characters in the book to life and made it doubly interesting. The book has some heavy and challenging content to grapple. I am still seeking answers to the question: How ordinary or extraordinary is my life?
I don't believe Science can answer that. I will have to continue to engage in a dialogue with Plato!

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Difficult to Absorb

What disappointed you about Plato at the Googleplex?

The creative element seemed overdone - hard to follow.

Would you ever listen to anything by Rebecca Goldstein again?

Not if it is like this one.

What does Dennis Holland bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I first tried reading the actual book (for an Intro to Philosophy class requirement). It seemed too complicated to 'feel'. The narration assisted greatly to absorb content.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It made a small part of Plato's viewpoints a little more understandable.