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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.



About the Author

Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein grew up in White Plains, New York, and graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, receiving the Montague Prize for Excellence in Philosophy, and immediately went on to graduate work at Princeton University, receiving her Ph. D. in philosophy. While in graduate school she was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship and a Whiting Foundation Fellowship. After earning her Ph. D. she returned to her alma mater, where she taught courses in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, the rationalists, the empiricists, and the ancient Greeks. It was some time during her tenure at Barnard that, quite to her own surprise, she used a summer vacation to write her first novel, . As she described it,"To me the process is still mysterious. I had just come through a very emotional time, having not only become a mother but having also lost my father, whom I adored. In the course of grieving for my father and glorying in my daughter, I found that the very formal, very precise questions I had been trained to analyze weren't gripping me the way they once had. Suddenly, I was asking the most `unprofessional' sorts of questions (I would have snickered at them as a graduate student) , such as how does all this philosophy I've studied help me to deal with the brute contingencies of life? How does it relate to life as it's really lived? I wanted to confront such questions in my writing, and I wanted to confront them in a way that would insert `real life' intimately into the intellectual struggle. In short I wanted to write a philosophically motivated novel. " was published by Random House and went on to become a critical and popular success. More novels followed: , which received the Whiting Writer's Award, , which received the 1995 National Jewish Book Award and the 1995 Edward Lewis Wallant Award; and . Her book of short stories, , received a National Jewish Book Honor Award. Her 2005 book , was featured in articles in and , received numerous favorable reviews, and was named one of the best books of the year by magazine, the , and the . Goldstein's most recent published book is, , published in May 2006, and winner of the 2006 Koret International Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought. Her new novel, , will be published by Pantheon Books. In 1996 Goldstein became a MacArthur Fellow, receiving the prize which is popularly known as the "Genius Award. " In awarding her the prize, the MacArthur Foundation described her work in the following words:"Rebecca Goldstein is a writer whose novels and short stories dramatize the concerns of philosophy without sacrificing the demands of imaginative storytelling. Her books tell a compelling story as they describe with wit, compassion and originality the interaction of mind and heart. In her fiction her characters confront problems of faith: religious faith and faith in an ability to comprehend the mysteries



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