The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization [NOOK Book]

Overview

Arthur Herman has now written the definitive sequel to his New York Times bestseller, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, and extends the themes of the book—which sold half a million copies worldwide—back to the ancient Greeks and forward to the age of the Internet. The Cave and the Light is a magisterial account of how the two greatest thinkers of the ancient world, Plato and Aristotle, laid the foundations of Western culture—and how ...
See more details below
The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$17.99
BN.com price

Overview

Arthur Herman has now written the definitive sequel to his New York Times bestseller, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, and extends the themes of the book—which sold half a million copies worldwide—back to the ancient Greeks and forward to the age of the Internet. The Cave and the Light is a magisterial account of how the two greatest thinkers of the ancient world, Plato and Aristotle, laid the foundations of Western culture—and how their rivalry shaped the essential features of our culture down to the present day.
 
Plato came from a wealthy, connected Athenian family and lived a comfortable upper-class lifestyle until he met an odd little man named Socrates, who showed him a new world of ideas and ideals. Socrates taught Plato that a man must use reason to attain wisdom, and that the life of a lover of wisdom, a philosopher, was the pinnacle of achievement. Plato dedicated himself to living that ideal and went on to create a school, his famed Academy, to teach others the path to enlightenment through contemplation.
 
However, the same Academy that spread Plato’s teachings also fostered his greatest rival. Born to a family of Greek physicians, Aristotle had learned early on the value of observation and hands-on experience. Rather than rely on pure contemplation, he insisted that the truest path to knowledge is through empirical discovery and exploration of the world around us. Aristotle, Plato’s most brilliant pupil, thus settled on a philosophy very different from his instructor’s and launched a rivalry with profound effects on Western culture.
 
The two men disagreed on the fundamental purpose of the philosophy. For Plato, the image of the cave summed up man’s destined path, emerging from the darkness of material existence to the light of a higher and more spiritual truth. Aristotle thought otherwise. Instead of rising above mundane reality, he insisted, the philosopher’s job is to explain how the real world works, and how we can find our place in it. Aristotle set up a school in Athens to rival Plato’s Academy: the Lyceum. The competition that ensued between the two schools, and between Plato and Aristotle, set the world on an intellectual adventure that lasted through the Middle Ages and Renaissance and that still continues today.
 
From Martin Luther (who named Aristotle the third great enemy of true religion, after the devil and the Pope) to Karl Marx (whose utopian views rival Plato’s), heroes and villains of history have been inspired and incensed by these two master philosophers—but never outside their influence.
 
Accessible, riveting, and eloquently written, The Cave and the Light provides a stunning new perspective on the Western world, certain to open eyes and stir debate.

Praise for The Cave and the Light
 
“Sweeping . . . Examining mathematics, politics, theology, and architecture, the book demonstrates the continuing relevance of the ancient world.”Publishers Weekly

“Breezy and enthusiastic but resting on a sturdy rock of research.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“A fabulous way to understand over two millennia of history, all in one book.”Library Journal
 
Praise for Gandhi & Churchill
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

 
“Scrupulous, compelling, and unfailingly instructive . . . a detailed and richly filigreed account that introduces the Anglo-American reader to many facts and vivid if little-known personalities, both English and Indian.”Commentary

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Plato and Aristotle both died in the fourth century B.C., but the debates that these great philosophers instigated continue to shape western civilization down to this very day. In his grand new book The Cave and The Light, Arthur Herman (Freedom's Forge; The Idea of Decline in Western History) first explains how their fundamental disagreements about the purpose and methods of intellectual inquiry were rooted in their backgrounds and personality; then describes how subsequent thinkers have reframed their dialectic disagreements. A comprehensive look at one of the core debates in world history. (P.S. Herman's Gandhi & Churchill was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in history.)

Library Journal
10/01/2013
Plato and Aristotle differed in several fundamental respects, but their work is inarguably fundamental to the intellectual history of the Western world. Herman, a Pulitzer finalist for Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age, traces the differences in their approaches and philosophy, both in their contemporary settings as well as in their reception and use in the following millennia. Plato (and more precisely the Neoplatonists) is the key to later spirituality and darker fascistic impulses; Aristotle is the basis for more practical and scientific systems. Herman's method to history is somewhat conservative in its focus on the work of well-known intellectual figures, but this makes for a good story with a dramatic and engaging narrative style. The sharp distinctions he tends to draw between Platonists and Aristotelians are more persuasive for the later Roman Empire and the Middle Ages when looking at texts that would have been available that make the influences clearer. By the 19th and 20th centuries, the record of influences is much less easy to disentangle. Ultimately, Herman concludes that we need the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle in concert to build a rational and great civilization. VERDICT This well-written and convincing work of popular history will appeal to a wide range of readers. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13.]—Margaret Heller, Loyola Univ. Chicago Libs.
Publishers Weekly
In his sweeping new book, historian Herman (How the Scots Invented the Modern World) contends that Plato and Aristotle had vastly different conceptions about the world, and that the various followers and interpreters of each thinker, throughout the ages, shaped the course of Western civilization. According to Herman, Plato views “the world through the eyes of the artist and religious mystic,” using intuition and ideals to understand the workings of the world, while Aristotle “observes reality through the... eyes of science,” using reason and logic as guides. Beginning with biographies of each thinker and unusual facts, the book traces the rise and fall of their respective philosophies. While Plato was dominant in the ancient world, with St. Paul linking the philosopher’s idea of the forms to early Christianity, Aristotle, through Thomas Aquinas, was prominent in the Middle Ages. While Aristotle’s authority caused science to stagnate in the Middle Ages, Plato’s ideas—especially those described in The Republic—were sometimes used to justify totalitarianism, influencing 20th-century communism, fascism, and Nazism. Examining mathematics, politics, theology, and architecture, the book demonstrates the continuing relevance of the ancient world. 46 illus. Agent: Glen Hartley, Writers Representatives. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Cave and the Light
 
“A sweeping intellectual history viewed through two ancient Greek lenses . . . breezy and enthusiastic but resting on a sturdy rock of research.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“Examining mathematics, politics, theology, and architecture, the book demonstrates the continuing relevance of the ancient world.”Publishers Weekly
 
“A fabulous way to understand over two millennia of history, all in one book.”Library Journal
 
“Entertaining and often illuminating.”The Wall Street Journal
 
Praise for Arthur Herman
 
Gandhi & Churchill
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
 
“You finish the book knowing that you can evaluate the world today, particularly modern India, with more knowledge and insight.”—USA Today
 
“Scrupulous, compelling, and unfailingly instructive . . . a detailed and richly filigreed account that introduces the Anglo-American reader to many facts and vivid if little-known personalities, both English and Indian.”Commentary
 
Freedom’s Forge
 
“A rambunctious book that is itself alive with the animal spirits of the marketplace.”The Wall Street Journal
 
How the Scots Invented the Modern World
 
“Professor Herman demonstrates an infectious and uplifting passion for his subject. Unlike many academics, he is a natural writer, weaving philosophical concerns seamlessly through a historical narrative that romps along at a cracking pace, producing a text that is highly accessible without compromising the rational quality of his argument.”—The Guardian
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II (2012) returns with a sweeping intellectual history viewed through two ancient Greek lenses. Herman, who has taught history at an assortment of universities, whips his thesis for all it's worth--which is considerable. After telling us the little that's known of the biographies of his principals, he marches steadily forward through the history of philosophy and culture, showing how Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" and his beliefs about our imperfect knowledge and about ideal government have waxed and waned, inspiring great art, noble theories and, in ways, totalitarian governments. He does the same for Aristotle, noting the ways his approach to the world has led to tremendous advances in science and technology, as well as egregious excess. "This book will show that Plato and Aristotle are alive and all around us," he writes. "Their influence is reflected in every activity and in every institution…as well as on the Internet. They have taken us to the moon and probed the innermost secrets of the human heart." Throughout, the author sprinkles allusions to contemporary events and popular culture, from Playboy to The Da Vinci Code to the Kardashians. (Sometimes he alludes to things long gone on the popular radar--Dragnet, for example.) On the journey, we meet just about every notable in intellectual history and learn how, in the author's view, they leaned toward (or antedated, learned from or rejected) the two long-gone Greeks. Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Epicurus, Cato, Cicero, Abelard, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Luther, Calvin, da Vinci, Bacon (Roger and Francis), Locke, Rousseau, Byron, Coleridge, Darwin--these and countless others dance in the bright light of Herman's narrative beam. Herman's own preferences quietly emerge now and then. He appears to embrace the value of a spiritual life and has some unhappy words for Karl Marx. Breezy and enthusiastic but resting on a sturdy rock of research.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553907834
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 54,470
  • File size: 10 MB

Meet the Author

Arthur Herman is the bestselling author of Freedom’s Forge, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, The Idea of Decline in Western History, To Rule the Waves, and Gandhi & Churchill, which was a 2009 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Dr. Herman taught the Western Heritage Program at the Smithsonian’s Campus on the Mall, and he has been a professor of history at Georgetown University, The Catholic University of America, George Mason University, and The University of the South at Sewanee.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    History of Ideas

    A readable history of the two most important philosophers of ancient Greece: Plato and Aristotle. At times they are juxtaposed to much for hyperbolic reasons but makes for a wonderful narrative history of the importance of ideas on culture and civilization. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)