From a March review at the Wall Street Journal , Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein:
“Plato at the Googleplex” consists of chapters of scholarly discussion followed by fictional accounts of Plato appearing in various contemporary venues. Thus we see Plato at Google headquarters on a book tour, Plato in a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, Plato as a consultant to an advice columnist, Plato interviewed on cable news and Plato’s brain being examined in a neuroscience laboratory. Here Ms. Goldstein employs her novelistic skills to sparkling effect by weaving abstract concepts into concrete modern narratives. At a cable news station, he is grilled by one Roy McCoy, who is not a bit intimidated by his distinguished Greek guest: “Okay, so they tell me you’re a big deal in philosophy, Plato. I’m going to tell you up front—because that’s the kind of guy I am, up-front—that I don’t think much of philosophers.” Plato coolly responds: “Many don’t. The term attracts a wide range of reaction, from admiration to amusement to animadversion. Some people think philosophers are worthless, and others that they are worth everything in the world. Sometimes they take on the appearance of statesmen, and sometimes of sophists. Sometimes, too, they might give the impression that they are completely insane.”
Of course, Plato wins every argument hands down, though his interlocutors generally fail to see that. For instance, in a well-aimed chapter on the pretensions of contemporary neuroscience, Plato volunteers as a subject in a brain-imaging experiment. The smug and overbearing Dr. Shoket treats Plato and philosophy with jocular contempt, all the while demonstrating his utter ignorance of that whereof he speaks. Plato has no trouble refuting his naïve reductionism, according to which there are no persons, intentions, beliefs or other psychological states but only synapses firing mechanically in the void. More.
Plato may win the argument, but there is increasing evidence that many metaphysical naturalists are past all that “argument” stuff. It belongs to an era when people believed that there really was a mind instead of just synapses firing mechanically into the void – either conveniently or inconveniently for the powers that be and their received wisdom.
Anyway, this is one for the Christmas list.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose