Published by Universal Publishers Publication Date: JUNE 2007
New Skins for
Old Wine
Plato's Wisdom for the Modern World
Stephen C. Lovatt

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Cover Art Courtesy of
Jekyl The Hidesmith
"Historic Recreationist and Fantasy Leathercraft"
 

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If you'd like to discuss any of the philosophical and cultural issues raised here, such as Platonism, Friendship, Epistemology, Subjective-Relativism vs Objective-Realism,
The threat of Islam, Science and Religion, 
The Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness,
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This book is written for everyone who seeks for truth and meaning in their life. Most books of "spirituality" are far removed from intellectual rigor, and most books of "philosophy" are so dry and analytic as to be unattractive to someone looking for a sense of significance in their life. This book seeks to bridge the gap.

This is an "Old Age" book. Its theme is that we have lost sight of reality and attempted to substitute "what we think we want to be true" for "what is in fact true". In doing so, we have turned our life both as individuals and as a society on its head.  We have attempted what Jesus of Nazareth warned us would never work. We have intruded a new philosophy into existing external structures, institutions and patterns of life. We have attempted to put "New Wine in Old Skins" and found that they have burst open. The rational response to our present predicament is to declare our experiment with Subjective Relativism a failure and to reverse that fateful decision. It is now well past the time that we should rescue what we can of the old philosophy and re-express it in those new external structures, institutions and patterns of life which are now appropriate. 

I hope that you will find a refreshing perspective in these pages and be motivated to take forward some of the ideas they contain into the battle between ignorance and deceit that rages about us. 

In the first few theoretical chapters I first try to answer the question: "What is life and what is its purpose?" I then consider what it is to be human, and attempt to establish an anthropology that is at core personal, spiritual and individualistic. 

Next, I explore what it is to come to know or to believe something. I then elucidate how faith - rightly understood - is basic to all knowledge, whether philosophical or scientific. Next, I discuss what it means to say that something is "good" or "evil".

In the more practical chapters that follow I first consider why it is rational and right for the individual to be gentle and just - and how it is in their own selfish interest to be kind to others. I then discuss the nature of friendship - arguing that this is the base value on which all human society is constructed. 

Next, I discuss the dangers inherent in the popular view of multiculturalism and propose an alternate approach. Then I criticize contemporary educational theory and practice before offering some thoughts on medical ethic, one of today's most divisive issues. Finally, I discuss Democracy in theory and practice and suggest options and alternatives. 
 

 

I hope that you will find the book intellectually stimulating, and not too annoying. If it brings to a clearer focus in your mind ideas that were always latent, then my task will have been largely achieved. If it stimulates in you an interest to learn more of Plato and Socrates, then I will be pleased. If you come to have a desire to search for truth, beauty and justice whatever the cost, then I will be well content. 

"O dear Pan and all the other gods of this place; grant that I may be beautiful within. Let all my possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him. Do we need anything else, Phaedrus? I believe my prayer is enough for me." 
"Make it a prayer for me as well. Friends have everything in common." 
"Let's be off!" 
[Plato: "Phaedrus" (279c)]

Comment from someone reading a first draft:

I can honestly say that the excellent piece of work that you are currently embarking on is outstanding. A very informative and inspiring ethical and spiritual outlook on our current social climate with creativity and imagination - honesty and the moral fibres of goodness are being destroyed for a consumer cyborg that does not think or have feelings or contemplates community as the heart of any civilisation. Plato would be proud of you, Stephen!

Comment from a work colleague

You are publishing your book - that's a bigger project than my
little vegetable patch!  I re-visited your Friendship web pages and if the book is of such a studious standard it will be some work.

Extracts from the first professional review

Dr Lovatt's book is a comprehensive look at how the teachings and philosophy of Plato have relevance in today's complex world. Every aspect of human experience falls under the microscope of the author's understanding of Plato's maxims, including sexuality, politics, the exterior world of nature, and the process of scientific discovery. The author invites his readers to see the world through Plato's eyes, and make their own conclusions about the meaning of life. 

"Old Wine in New Skins: Plato's Wisdom for Today's World" is exhaustively researched and Plato's works and those of other thinkers such as Origen, Thomas Aquinas, Karl Popper, various popes, King Charles I of England and even Voldemort (the villain of the popular Harry Potter books) are liberally sprinkled throughout the text. Dr Lovatt invites his readers to questions their own beliefs, and offers his point of view as an explanation of questions which have been posed through the ages. This work should give readers much to ponder as they reflect on the author's perspective on the meaning of life. 

Dear Stephen,
 
I am truly enjoying your book.  Presently, I am at the section where you discuss D&D in the larger context of good and evil.  My apologies for taking so long with my review; but I have been quite busy these past couple of months.  Expect the review to appear by the end of this month.
 
As a player of D&D myself, I must say that my character, who began as a chaotic evil wizard, has undergone some tremendous transformations over the past couple of years.  Our DM has decided that it would be best for me to change my alignment to chaotic neutral (a tough one to play) because I'm so unpredictable.  Since we are basically a 'freestyle' gaming group, using the original rules (which allow for much more leeway, I think, than the 3rd edition) we can kind of let the story tell itself.  My basic point, returning to philosophy, is that we are all -- I think -- chaotic neutral.  We make up our minds on the fly, as it were, and then require a 'DM' (a judge, a priest, a parent, a spouse, whatever) to let us know when we've gone astray.  It all boils down to advice which, as the elf told Frodo in LOTR, is a dangerous gift.  
 
So I'm enjoying your book.  Some criticisms, to be sure, but overall a fine job.  I'll let you know when my review appears.
 
Regards,
 
Edward
 
 
Edward Moore, S.T.L., Ph.D.
Dean of Faculty
Department of Philosophy
St. Elias School of Orthodox Theology
Media, PA 19063