Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition : The Great Courses: Intellectual History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Grant Hardy Ph.D. Yale University
  • Series: The Great Courses: Intellectual History
  • 18 hrs and 35 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Western philosophy is a vast intellectual tradition, the product of thousands of years of revolutionary thought built up by a rich collection of brilliant minds. But to understand the Western intellectual tradition is to get only half the story. The Eastern intellectual tradition has made just as important a contribution-and is also the product of thousands of years of cumulative thought by a distinct group of brilliant thinkers
. Their ideas demonstrate wholly different ways of approaching and solving the same fundamental issues that concerned the West's greatest thinkers, such as the existence of God, the meaning of life and the nature of truth and reality.
This epic and comprehensive 36-lecture examination of the East's most influential philosophers and thinkers - from a much-honored teacher and scholar - offers a thought-provoking look at the surprising connections and differences between East and West. By introducing you to the people-including The Buddha, Ashoka, Prince Shotoku, Confucius, and Gandhi - responsible for molding Asian philosophy and for giving birth to a wide variety of spiritual and ideological systems, it will strengthen your knowledge of cultures that play increasingly important roles in our globalized 21st-century world.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enjoyable course with too large a scope

This course covers Asian philosophy from ancient to modern by discussing "great minds" and their beliefs. In total, over 70 great minds are discussed so you should be warned going in that the scope of this course is huge. There is no way you will remember all of the people mentioned, and no way that you will remember all of the details of their beliefs. For this reason, the course can seem to drag a bit as you get mired in arcana of different Hindu beliefs on metaphysics etc.

The course mainly discusses Indian, Chinese and Japanese philosophy and religion. In India, the focus is mainly on metaphysics and ethics, and I found these lectures to be the weakest. I believe this may be a result of Indian history being more oral than Chinese, and so we hear a lot fewer interesting stories of peoples lives in the lectures and rather more discussions of commentaries of commentaries of Vedic texts. It is easy to get lost between all the different Indian philosophical theories.

The Chinese and Japanese lectures I found to be absolutely brilliant. Perhaps this is because of personal interest, but I really did feel like the history discussed was worth learning about, the philosophy made sense and wasn't difficult to follow because it was presented in the historical context. On the Chinese side, I felt like I had learned a lot about a country that has always seemed very foreign to me, and the comparisons between Chinese philosophy and Greek philosophy are really quite striking. Japan has a fascinating history, and the philosophy of aesthetics and ethics was very nice to hear about.

Otherwise, the course gives one lecture to Tibetan Buddhism/philosophy and a few lectures to Korean philosophy. These are both very interesting topics but I think the time given to them might suffice for the average listener, I certainly don't feel the need to follow them up.

Overall, this course is a whirlwind, with some weak bits but mostly very worthwhile. I will certainly be following up with other courses on more particular topics, but I definitely needed this overview to know where I want to start. I certainly recommend this to anyone who is interested, but be prepared for a lot of new names and words!
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- Chris

Great tour through the east

What did you like most about Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition?

It's very interesting and covers all the ground in a reasonably simple manner for outsiders. The professor is good and knows his stuff. He also presents it a somewhat light heated fashion, which complements the content well.

What does Professor Grant Hardy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Unlike audiobooks that are written books just read aloud, this is a lecture series specifically designed for audio format. This makes it MUCH easier to listen to than a traditional audio book.

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- J. Whittaker

Book Details

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