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New Skins for Old Wine: Plato's Wisdom for Today's World Paperback – 9 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Universal (9 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581129602
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581129601
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,839,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Lovatt was borne in 1958 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. The jolt of his mother's death when he was fourteen, made him resolve to become a member of the Methodist Church. He came into the possession of a strange little book called "The Testament of Light" in about 1974. This introduced him for the first time to Plato, Whichcote, Glanville, Mill, Blake, Chesterton, Julian of Norwich, Marcus Aurelius, Nietzsche and The Cloud of Unknowing. It was about this time that he first encountered Catholicism, in the writings of Teihard de Chardin.

He was accepted to read physics at Trinity College in 1976. While at Cambridge, he discovered the works of Cardinal Newman and as a result was received into the Catholic Church in 1979. After graduating, he worked for about ten years in the electronics industry. During this period he became familiar with the works of Karl Popper and developed an interest in epistemology and the basis of Quantum Mechanics. In 1990, he returned to academic studies researching in relativistic quantum mechanics and multiple scattering theory at Bristol University. At this time he was introduced to the works of Ayn Rand, the American founder of the Objectivist school of philosophy and developed an interest in teleology and ethics.

After obtaining his doctorate in Physics, he returned to the electronics industry, before conducting a stint of post-doctoral research in the fields of Density Functional Theory and the Physics of Liquids. At about this time he discovered the works of Plato. In 2002 he began two years of teacher training, after which he was appointed lecturer in electronics and mathematics at the Army School of Electrical and Aeronautical Engineering.

He is an amateur poet and is contributing to the Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2012.

He published his first non-fiction book "New Skins for Old wine: Plato's Wisdom for Today's world" in 2009.

He is now publishing his second non-fiction book "Faithful to the Truth: How to be an orthodox gay Catholic" in 21012.

Two more books are in preparation:
1. "The Good of Being", a book of Theodicy and Apologetics.
2. "The Staff of Uthyre", a "Swords and Sorcery" fantasy novel.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Cowlam on 29 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
In positing a Christian eschatology, Stephen Lovatt presents a persuasive and thoroughly thought-out argument in its support. Millennia of human soul-searching have gone into difficult and pressing questions as to how civilisations should organise themselves, and how we - the beings constituting them - should live. Plato thought this wasn't solely a matter of politics, and nor does Stephen Lovatt. It is desirable, of course, that we uphold ideals in fairness, justice, good governance, etc., but if these concepts are borne only of our material life what does that say for our spiritual being, supposing we have one?

'For a mortal being to somehow gain an association with God, and to be granted a participation in God's divine life, would be to gain a firm basis for its existence, not subject to the vicissitudes of the material universe. No greater good is possible.'
New Skins for Old Wine, p223

Lovatt, as Plato did, believes in humanity's divine aspect, the flesh not merely clay, but inspirited:

'[The gods] having taken the immortal origin of the soul...gave it the entire body as its vehicle.'
New Skins for Old Wine, p118, quoting Plato's Timaeus (69b-70b)

The learning process our life experience subjects us to, and the institutional tents we raise on its behalf - schools, laws, parliaments, and a lot more things besides - are not just the instruments of social progress.

'The basic point of being human is that a person can relate to the material world and in that relationship the soul can learn what it is to be just. This requires consciousness, because the spirit is only aware of conscious thought, and conscience can only act through consciousness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. P. Jay on 22 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
Having taught Plato at A' level for several years, it has always been difficult to fund easy-to-understand books. This book is considerably more user-friendly, with illustrations from popular culture - films, games etc.

I agree with its views on the destructiveness of much modern philosophy and the need to return to its classical roots. An OFSTED inspector told me that I wasn't doing `real philosophy' when teaching Plato. Only linguistics qualified in his view

Things I liked:

Plato's view that the written word compromises the living process of relation and discovery.

The idea of challenging orthodoxy because doxa is provisional.

The teleological idea that all processes in the cosmos tend towards the optimum - prefiguring Darwin.

That God is no person - would that fundamentalists would understand this.

That some suffering is necessary to help humans develop and flourish but disliked `man should make all haste to escape from earth to heaven' (What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Platonism here is opposed to the incarnational heart of Christianity, even though you point out that Plato was not a dualist in thinking of humans as souls imprisoned in bodies.)

That fideism and secular rationalist are both characterised by rigidity and intolerance - Richard Dawkins!

Pope Benedict was spot on when he said, `Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person'

I think the author overstates the case that relativism can lead to tyranny. Because truth is more than we can comprehend, our apprehension of it is bound to be partial, so the truth we perceive is relative, even though truth itself is, ultimately, objective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Welsh Italian on 20 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to fund an easy to understand book on Plato. New Skins for Old Wine is considerably more user-friendly than most, with illustrations from popular culture. The chapter on Friendship is excellent, as is the one on Sexuality. The book reads as a series of personal reflections. One will easily be reminded of Nietzsche; for Dr Lovatt writes as he thinks, with a thoughtful approach to each topic, yet one which dispenses with lengthy explanations. His book is not a series of aphorisms, but it comes close. Not a bad thing, in my opinion!

Dr Lovatt makes the point that one must love oneself before any one else in an admirably concise way. I just hope that people listen to him! He captures the meaning of "soul" very well. So many Christians are basically dualists and think in terms which Jews don't and which are alien to orthodox Christianity.

On a corporate level, the basis of a successful state, essentially, is life-long education. The life of the intellect must hold sway, not the life of the loins. Nowadays, obsession with children is at a fever pitch: everyone wants children. Yet, as Dr Lovatt so elegantly puts it: "When parents seek for personal meaning in terms of their children, they try to supplement their own worth with that of their offspring" (p71).

Dr Lovatt strikes me as the kind of fellow I'd like to hang out with and talk philosophy (or any subject) over fish and chips and a pint of Guiness. His writing is crisp, crackling, and biting as a winter breeze. The union of compelling ideas and good writing is in short supply these days. Dr Lovatt's book is a refreshing reminder that some people still think... and write remarkably well.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Clearing up muddied thinking? 27 Dec. 2008
By Paul Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book covers scattered topics of contemporary relevance, linked by the author's personal interest and connected to an underlying Platonic and Christian viewpoint of the world. The author covers topics of academic interest --- from life and consciousness to sexuality and religion --- in an opinionated style that brings the subject matter to life and should encourage lively debate in any classroom setting. In an attempt to address issues of importance today through a philosophy based on Platonism and objective realism, the author is to be commended. The book will appeal to many and should, as the author hopes, encourage readers to think more deeply about topics where everyday thinking can be muddied. In some topics (eg Islam) I fear the author strays beyond his area of expertise, but attempts to address such deficiencies by incorporating various personal exchanges in a manner reminiscent of Socratic dialog within the text. Such debates will add to the value of this book in a classroom setting and I recommend its use in an introductory course in philosophy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A breath of fresh air. 12 Sept. 2011
By Jake Kramer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For those who are familiar with much of contemporary philosophy- they will know that it is almost entirely "spiritual" and pretentious nonsense. Lovatt's book is a return back to logical thought and reasoned conclusions. As stated in another comment, he ranges a broad spectrum of topics with views that generally take concepts from both sides of the aisle to create what he believes to be the correct answer. This is a wonderful guide to many of Plato's thoughts, and raises pertinent issues in often unique ways. To the atheists out there- Lovatt will often raise the topic of God, but takes it as a given that God exists. Speaking as an atheist and or an agnostic, this is NO deterent to reading the book. Nearly everything Lovatt says will still carry weight in worldview without God, and you may find yourself pleasently surprised at his explicit use of logic. The only thing I have against the book is that I found parts of it a bit "dry". But if you are on the pursuit for truth, beauty, and justice- this book is an excellent place to start, continue, or finish.
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