The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life

Suggested on the All-nonfiction list I saw it was on sale at Audible and just took it.  After a couple of intense fictions it seemed time for some nice and more relaxing ideas.

It seems that the author,  Michael Pruett,  a history scholar at Harvard,  has been teaching a course in ancient Chinese philosophy for a couple years with the result that students have been flocking to his courses in astonishing numbers.

path

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The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life
by Michael Puett, Christine Gross-Loh
2016 / 224 pages
read by Michael Pruett
rating:   8  /  philosophy – self-help
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The contents – the ideas of  Confucius, Mencius, Mohism,  Laozi,  Zhuangzi, and  Xunzi are put into 21st century context helping the reader to respond more resonantly in his world.

There are multiple ideas here – like an intro course in the Chinese philosophers  including some recently discovered texts.  Pruett doesn’t espouse any of them,  and they are very different in some ways,  he just explains them very briefly.

I suppose Harvard kids have their own reasons for taking the course.  It is a relatively painless way to meet an otherwise difficult requirement.   I suppose it’s enjoyable to think outside the box and I would expect that’s what Pruett wants them to get – the road to achievement in the worlds Harvard students are often very structured around success oriented projects – help out at the local food kitchen because it will look good on the resume.

I hope they don’t use it the way business folks have come to use Buddhism and the concept of mindfulness –  (Read “focus” on your goals for business –   be more successful by using mindfulness –  gads.)   I’m sure some of the students will do exactly that.  They never get out of the box of whatever their goal sets for them.  lol  – Pruett actually addresses this but in a slightly different way –  self-centered vs engagement.

And I have a bad tendency to argue with this kind of self-help stuff –  I want to find examples of where this or that idea is not a good idea –  I take the idea to an extreme – trained spontaneity”  –  train it for your own goals.   So I guess I’m still fighting it – It’s really just about going with the flow and becoming a good person by focusing on what you need/want to be – don’t stress out –  overcome our own perspectives –

All that said,  I think I want to listen to this again -or maybe buy the book itself (Kindle version).   There is a book which goes along with this Audio version but it’s just a compilation of the quotes from the texts examined.

I’ve been reading the free ebook Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Xunzi: Selected Passages which is translated by the authors of The Path and is suggested as a companion read and is found at Amazon.

Interesting links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emanuel-pastreich/interview-with-michael-puett_b_8471666.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/why-are-hundreds-of-harvard-students-studying-ancient-chinese-philosophy/280356/

http://www.thecrimson.com/column/occupational-therapy/article/2012/11/29/harvard-chinese-puett/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-college-of-chinese-wisdom-1459520703

 

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