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The author made me realize a point.

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Sometimes, as in Boltzman's case, the theory comes before the 'knowledge based on experience' Aristotle's main way of seeing the universe. Perhaps, the bad mouthing of String Theory is premature and maybe the beauty of the mathematics will lead to something just as Boltzman's atoms came to be accepted after he killed himself?

This is really a great book and is the best way to understand the theory of development of thought.


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I just thought it was weird or was it silly? Don't let that mar the book since he tells such a fun story in such a compelling way. This book is really a shout out for why philosophy is still relevant for today. If your like me, and want to know your place in the universe and why it matters this book will take you major steps there. You know your listening to a really good book when you can relate over half of the or so science, history and philosophy books you've listened to over the last 3 years directly to this book. That's why I can recommend this book so strongly with just a minor quibble in the previous paragraph of this review.

What did you love best about The Cave and the Light? Herman's thesis, that the intellectual history of the West is fundamentally the competition between the worldviews of Plato and Aristotle, is convincing. The writing is beautiful and Herman's erudition is astounding. I liked the entire book, but his analysis of Rousseau is compelling: Rousseau's reliance on Plato to become the father of modern totalitarian thought is laid out with intellectual force. The last third of the book is simply phenomenal.

What other book might you compare The Cave and the Light to and why? Jacque Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence. How does this one compare?


  1. A review of Arthur Herman's The Cave and the Light;
  2. Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization.
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  7. Hecht brings a sense of gravitas to his narration. I like it when a narrator is able to correctly pronounce foreign names and phrases. He has a great voice and a compelling style. Any additional comments? Every college student should be assigned this book.

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    The tension between the ideas of Plato and Aristotle is what has made Western Civilization vibrant, Arthur Herman says. He presents a fast, thorough history of thinkers through the centuries who have extolled the two Greeks. I disagree with him on a few points but am delighted and indebted to have heard his telling. Though I suspect that author favored Aristotle over Plato, he did a very solid job of not seeming biased.

    Often times authors will go out of their way to NOT be biased which typically ends up revealing bias in favor of the contrary viewpoint. He highlighted both favorable and unfavorable incarnations of these philosophers throughout history. What did you like best about this story? The vast breadth of this work. I had read "Secret History of the World" which was a much more esoteric telling of world history, but comparing these two books -- Aristotle Versus Plato was much more intellectually satisfying, whereas the other work felt more fluffy.

    If you'd like to stand on a mountain and have a bird's eye view of philosophical history, this book is the perfect "lens.

    Which scene was your favorite? There was no scene in particular as it was non-fiction, but his summaries of other works throughout history including Wealth of Nations, The Prince, and Origin of the Species felt spot on among other analysis he presented. Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Nothing particularly moving in an emotional sense -- except maybe the recognition of how extensively history repeats itself. I'd highly recommend this.

    History Made Interesting -- The Cave and the Light by Arthur Herman

    Not only for its own content, but for the fact that it's a great spring board for looking into other works. Would you consider the audio edition of The Cave and the Light to be better than the print version? Definitely, the most engaging audio book I heard so far. Herman is a master of his art in delivering the history of Western philosophy in the most easy to read and listen to manner. The ease at which Herman is able to deconstruct the most complex philosophical ideas into sentences where most of us would easily absorb and understand. All are connected as the story seems to the reader to be one eternal struggle between Plato and Aristotle through the centuries.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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    The Cave and the Light

    The style Herman uses in delivering this tour de force of philosophy is so gripping you feel like traveling with him through the ages. The final verdict, this should be a required reading for all those interested in the history of Western civilization and the men and ideas that shaped it. This is a fairly shallow and superficial overview of Western Philosophy The author's premise is that there is huge divide between Plato and Aristotle, and that all of western history is shaped by that divide.

    The author, Herman, goes so far as to say on a few occasions, that historians have it all wrong. Various major historical events weren't determined by economics or religion or culture, but entirely by the tension between Plato and Aristotle.

    Book Review: 'The Cave and the Light,' by Arthur Herman

    This premise is exaggerated and simplified to the point of being ridiculous. I should point out, as well, that there is considerable controversy over whether there really is or was such a great divide between Plato and Aristotle in the first place. Certainly, any such divide is nowhere near as stark as Herman portrays it. As with so much in this book, the author simply ignores all evidence that doesn't support his premise, and exaggerates the rest to make it fit. But the most bizarre part of this book is the end, where Herman reveals himself to be a worshiper at the shrine of Ayn Rand.

    Herman ends his book by a lengthy discussion of Rand, portraying her as the great culmination of all Western Philosophy. In doing so, he proclaims men like John D. Rockefeller as the true heroes of western civilization, dismisses John Maynard Keynes in one sentence as just some "communist," states without any evidence that the belief the US government played a role in winning World War II is "a myth" according to Herman, the war was won entirely by heroic industrialists , and blithely ignores those parts of Rand's views which make most people very uncomfortable.

    Up to that point, I thought the flaws in the book were a result of the author's lack of in-depth knowledge of many of the philosophers he discusses. But in the last quarter of the book it becomes clear that his omissions and exaggerations are part of a deliberately selective approach to facts. This book is shallow, dishonest and, in the end, just plain silly.

    The Cave And Light Plato Versus Aristotle Struggle For Soul Of Western Civilization Arthur Herman

    Paul Hecht did a very nice job reading it, however. This book kept me coming back for more, every time. Very well done and impressive scholarship that covers many of the key ideas of Plato and Aristotle throughout western history.

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    This book made me realize how small and mortal we humans really are, in that even Plato and Aristotle were both only half right, and how man throughout history is at best only half right in solving problems and governing, and worse how a half right solution leads to destruction when pushed to its conclusion. It also shows the tension between sensors Aristotle and introspectives Plato , which gave me a new respect for America's "mixed regime. Excellent, excellent book. You will be expanded. Arthur Herman has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of the duel between Plato and Aristotle, bringing both philosophers to life in this very insightful, well researched, and expertly integrated presentation.

    Paul Hecht reads the text with clarity, and with perfect delivery. Your audiobook is waiting…. By: Arthur Herman. Narrated by: Paul Hecht. Length: 25 hrs and 26 mins. Categories: History , Ancient. People who bought this also bought Narrated by: Father Joseph Koterski S. Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins Original Recording Overall.

    Publisher's Summary The Cave and the Light reveals how two Greek philosophers became the twin fountainheads of Western culture, and how their rivalry gave Western civilization its unique dynamism down to the present. What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall.