Teaching Plato in Palestine: Philosophy in a Divided World
12 October 2015
Winner of the 2015 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction, Quebec Writers’ Federation
Teaching Plato in Palestine is part intellectual travelogue, part plea for integrating philosophy into our personal and public life. Philosophical toolkit in tow, Carlos Fraenkel invites readers on a tour around the world as he meets students at Palestinian and Indonesian universities, lapsed Hasidic Jews in New York, teenagers from poor neighborhoods in Brazil, and the descendants of Iroquois warriors in Canada. They turn to Plato and Aristotle, al-Ghazālī and Maimonides, Spinoza and Nietzsche for help to tackle big questions: Does God exist? Is piety worth it? Can violence be justified? What is social justice and how can we get there? Who should rule? And how shall we deal with the legacy of colonialism? Fraenkel shows how useful the tools of philosophy can be—particularly in places fraught with conflict—to clarify such questions and explore answers to them.
Carlos Fraenkel teaches philosophy and religion at the University of Oxford and McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of Philosophical Religions from Plato to Spinoza, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other publications.