Plato for Everyone

Aviezer Tucker. Prometheus, $21 trade paper (275p) ISBN 978-1-61614-654-2
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.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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