In the first book of its kind, The Path draws on the work of six of the great - but largely unknown - Chinese philosophers to offer a fresh and revolutionary guide to human flourishing.
By examining the teachings of Chinese thinkers and explaining what they reveal about our daily lives - from greeting others to raising children - The Path challenges some of our deepest held assumptions. It shows that the way to live well is not to slavishly follow a grand plan, as so much of Western thought would have us believe, but rather to follow a path - one of self-cultivation and self-discovery.
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- Rannoch Donald
Life Through a Chinese Sage's Eyes
The Path is quite unique in that it is part philosophy/history book when Puett explains the various ideas of the different philosophers and it is also part self-help book when Puett then applies those idea to potential everyday life situations (some adapted more successfully than others I might add).
I felt a bit confused at the ending as the final chapter is quite historical in nature.It discusses western philosophical ideas surrounding China, and the way Western society is run compared to Chinese society. I felt this would have probably been better to have the historical background bit at the start of the book, not at the end! That said I suppose it was nice to have all the ideas of the various Chinese philosophers to consider when comparing both societies at the end.
I liked that the author Michael Puett read the book. I always like it when an author reads his or her work as you can often tell they are passionate about the subject they are discussing.
I really liked how Puett challenged modern concepts with ancient Chinese ideas. This made me look again at the things I consider to be 'normal' ideas. Although at times this assumption of what we consider to be modern day ideas felt a bit overly stereotypical. I particularly liked how Yang Zhu's idea of spontaneity was not do whatever the heck you like, but by training yourself to act in a spontaneous way, like how someone plays a beautiful melody on a piano, it is true spontaneity as they are doing it freely through their spirit (without having to think about it). There were plenty of other examples throughout the book of Chinese philosophy being applied to modern day ideas and situations that made me think about things in a different way. I felt that some of them seemed a bit obscure but quite a lot of them resonated really well.
I think this book also actually works well as an introduction to Chinese philosophy and perhaps religion. It isn't a subject I knew very much about, and I feel I can appreciate different Chinese philosophical ideas now. I don't feel it gives you a great in depth analysis of these ideas but then I don't think that was the intention of the book. Personally, I'd like to read some of the texts from the philosophers and consider them in terms of the ideas Puett mentions. Overall I found this a very interesting and insightful book. In general I don't enjoy self help books at all, I find them rather assuming and patronising which I didn't feel this was at all. Certainly worth a listen if anything just for the interesting new ideas of looking at things you may have never even considered before. Whether or not those ideas are actually better or worse than our modern conceptions is hard to tell, or perhaps they are in fact one and the same. Plenty of food for thought anyway!