The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions : The Great Courses: Intellectual History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Jay L. Garfield
  • Series: The Great Courses: Intellectual History
  • 18 hrs and 41 mins
  • Lecture

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- George

Really awesome

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional reviewer, and this is my first review.

I must admit I listened only to the first 4 lectures of this course, and I felt the need to write a review. I was really pleasantly surprised by the level of scholarship and professionalism professor Garfield displays. I knew and was familiar with many concepts Professor Garfield explains, but the way he explains them, the repetition he makes, and the explanation of the etymology of single words makes this course a must have.
I'm also going slow into listening the material, because Professor Garfield emphasizes some concepts, and convey some ideas which are really rich, and most of all spiritual.
Some of these ideas In order to be "digested" need quite some time, and many ideas leave me totally absorbed by the implications. And of course the comparison with ideas/concepts from western theology.
So one of the goals of this review is to thank Professor Garfield for explaining the material so well, and of course for being so thorough.

I'm truly happy that Audible and the Great Courses started this partnership. Because it was something missing, and now I can enjoy all these great professors, and their knowledge.
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- Davide

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses