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Publisher's Summary

What is the meaning of life?
It's a question every thoughtful person has pondered at one time or another. Indeed, it may be the biggest question of all - at once profound and universal, but also deeply personal.
We want to understand the world in which we live, but we also want to understand how to make our own lives as meaningful as possible; to know not only why we're living, but that we're doing it with intention, purpose, and ethical commitment. But how, exactly, do we find that meaning, and develop that commitment? How can we grasp why we are here? Or how we should proceed? And to whom, exactly, we should listen as we shape the path we will walk? This comprehensive 36-lecture series from a much-honored scholar is an invigorating way to begin or continue your pursuit of these questions, and it requires no previous background in philosophical or religious thought.
It offers a rigorous and wide-ranging exploration of what various spiritual, religious, and philosophical traditions from both the East and West have contributed to this profound line of questioning, sharing insights from sources that include ancient Indian texts, such as:


The Bhagavad-Gita
Foundational Chinese texts like the Daodejing and the Chuang Tzu
Classical Western texts, such as Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and Marcus Aurelius's Meditations
Modern philosophers and writers like David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Leo Tolstoy
The unique perspectives offered by Native Americans, in this case, the Lakota Sioux medicine man and writer, John Lame Deer
More recent and contemporary philosophers, such as Mohandas Gandhi and the Dalai Lama



PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By George on 03-12-14

Thoughtful, Evenhanded, Precise, and Well Spoken

This lecture series discusses The Bhagavad Gita, Aristotle, The Book of Job, Stoicism (including Epictetus, Seneca, Lucretius, and Marcus Aurelius), Confucius, The Dao De Jing (including Zhuangzi), Buddhist teachings (including Santideva and Zen), Hume, Kant, Mill, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Gandhi, Lame Deer, and the Dalai Lama. He concentrates on bringing out what each subject has to say particularly on the meaning of life, and he always reminds the listener of themes that we have heard in previous lectures and how they compare to the current lecture. He took every perspective seriously, and during each lecture I felt he was making a great case for each viewpoint. He respects Nietzsche and Gandhi equally. He is calm yet engaging speaker. One revelation I had was the difference in how the ancient world generally understands the meaning of life as opposed to the modern world. I got a lot out of listening, and may listen again after a few months. If I were to guess, I would guess he gives slightly more time to compassion/nature of self, but he gives almost equal time to other topics such as the aesthetic/creative and knowledge/progress ideas of the good life.

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37 of 38 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jason on 08-18-13

So far this is my favorite Audible purchase

What about Professor Jay L. Garfield’s performance did you like?

He is excellent. His voice does reminded me a little bit of a nerdy professor at first, but his enthusiasm and passion for the the subject matter has blown me away. I think he's my favorite narrator that I've come accross to date. I just wish I would have stumbled across him before moving, as I lived not too far from where he teaches.

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

No. There is a lot of material covered in each lecture. I can't do too many at once, as each topic needs a little time for reflection. ...although on occasion I do want to push myself and see how many I can do back to back.

Any additional comments?

Jay Garfield makes an excellent performance in these lectures. He is fascinated by the material he is covering, and seems to love each topic he covers. Each lecture is between 30 and 45 minutes, which is just about perfect. So far, he has kept my interest for every lecture. I admit, I'm only 15 hours in, but I had to come online and see if he narrates anything else.... unfortunately, it doesn't look like he does at the moment.

Each lecture gives a brief overview of the various world religeons and major philosophies. The purpose isn't to tell you what the meaning of life is, but rather to discuss some of the major world ideas about the meaning of life - not just in respect to religion, but also from a philisophic viewpoint as well.

Overall, I'm thrilled with this purchase, which is why I wrote this review. A+ on all counts.

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21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David on 09-06-14

Life-changingly fantastic

What about Professor Jay L. Garfield’s performance did you like?

His very clear passion and love of the subject

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The second climax of the bhavadgita, the description of daoism, and understanding the zen notion of impermanence

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly recommended. Probably my favorite great courses series so far (out of about 10)

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By mr.andrius on 02-25-15

great stuff

really liked it. story is fasinating,narrator is supurb. it is my first review of any audiobook,so its says it all.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Annalie on 11-17-17

Brilliant, highly recommended

Prof Garfield is an excellent lecturer, passionate about his subject, and inspiring, bringing philosophies of different ancient cultures to life, and showig the relevance of those teachings to our present time. His brilliant interpretations of those teachings gave me a wider perspective on life, a highly recommended listen!

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