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
Plus 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- David

Absolute joy to hear Professor and his thoughts

If you could sum up The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions in three words, what would they be?

Widen your horizon!


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions?

Loved the delivery of the course. Each chapter gives you so much to absorb and so much to think about. It covers the different traditions and life of meaning in each of the traditions discussed.


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

Discussions about death and life cycle.


Any additional comments?

Highly recommended. I have heard this book twice and would love to go through it again in some time. There is some new meaning you can find on each read.

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- SA

Book Details

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