New philosophy book offers digital forums for readers to discuss ideas

December 15, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Penn State philosophy professor and the Cambridge University Press have partnered to publish an innovative scholarly monograph with an enhanced digital version using the latest digital technology.

Christopher Long, professor of philosophy and classics, is author of a monograph, "Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy: Practicing a Politics of Reading," published in print and enhanced digital editions by the University of Cambridge Press.

''I wanted to leverage new digital modes of communication to translate the dynamism of Socrates’ politics of engagement in a digital age. Only a living digital book could do justice to the dialogues that are brought to life by Plato’s writings,'' said Long, also associate dean for graduate and undergraduate education in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.

Students, faculty and the public can read the book online and discuss the ideas in the book publicly or with other people in a digital forum. The book’s central argument is that Platonic writing attempts to do with its readers what Socrates attempted to do in dialogue with his interlocutors: turn their attention to questions of what is just and beautiful and good. The publication of "Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy" is designed to perform the argument the book articulates.

Long wants researchers and students not just to read and understand his book, but to engage in active reading, which involves both thinking and responding, as in an ongoing conversation. The result is a new way of experiencing Platonic political writing, in which readers are called upon, in a personal way, to consider how a commitment to speaking the truth and acting toward justice can enrich our lives together. The new book will be available to Penn State students through the University Libraries.  

With help from Penn State, the Cambridge University Press worked to produce the enhanced digital book, which includes full-text HTML and annotative capabilities. Available through Cambridge Books Online (CBO), readers can now engage directly with the text, with the author and with other readers. By logging into CBO, readers gain access to the Cambridge Notes tool, which allows them to:

  • Save, update and manipulate their notes online.
  • Engage in debate with Long as notes can be sent directly to him.
  • Engage with other readers in a discussion forum on the author’s blog.

''This enhanced digital monograph is a different kind of book from any published in Cambridge’s 480-year history," Long said. ''The success of this experiment will depend upon the willingness of readers to enter into dialogue with other readers by publicly engaging with the ideas of the book.

''My role as author will be to facilitate the ongoing conversation and, hopefully, to help cultivate a community of readers interested in Socrates, Plato, and the politics of reading. I look forward to the conversation and to hearing what readers think not only about the ideas of the book, but also, about the mode by which it has been published,'' he added.

  • New book: Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy

    New book: Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy by Penn State philosophy professor Christopher Long

    IMAGE: Cambridge University Press
Last Updated January 09, 2015