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

Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course may make you reevaluate your life. Two major points: 1. There is a difference between "the meaning of life" and "living a meaningful life". 2. The professor brings to us representative views from other than the modern Jewish/Christian/Islamic world. I do not know the professor's motivation; but, it may have been to educate his mostly "western-religions" audience on opinions from other world views. I make the same recommendation I have made before; read the course description and the synopsis of each lecture before you buy. The course description states the answer to the meaning of life "...may forever elude you". The course description and the synopsis of each lecture show there is not much on the Abrahamic religions or many of the "modern" western philosophies. You can not cover everything in 36, 48, or even 96 lectures. Other reviewers have noted other TGC discuss aspects of eastern religions and world philosophies. This course focuses on one aspect, in detail, the other TGC may or may not have covered in very much detail. This course examines one issue ("meaning of life" or "living a meaningful life") and compares the various opinions. You do not have to agree with those opinions. But, those opinions give you insight into other-world views. Those other-world views still exist in our world today. Those other-world views may cause you to re-think your own life. I recommend everybody take this course. There is a lot of food for thought contained in the lectures on our personal values and on the values of our society (and other societies). Professor Garfield is an excellent and entertaining teacher. He is very dynamic and articulated. His procedure of reading from a text, and then examining a sentence in detail, really helps bring home the meaning of what the author was expressing.
Date published: 2020-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fluid Thinker and Expressive Speaker Prof. Garfield took me on a journey of discovery through the world of great thinkers and traditions of humankind. The way he weaves the concepts of the meaning of life and death form the first lecture to the last, expounding on ideas and joining them with previous lectures was masterful. For whatever reason....the lecture on John Stewart Mill, to use the cliche, "totally blew my mind", I will revisit the course after I've had time to digest some of the information, I feel there was as much information that "went over my head" as I was able to grasp onto. This is one of my personal favorites.
Date published: 2020-06-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A prejudiced course Why would i even consider a course about the meaning of life that takes all Major religions and philosophies and yet completely ignores the second largest religion of the world. A religion 1400 years old. As a muslim i learned so much from christianity, bhudism, jewdaism, hinduism, and all the western philospher without disregarding any of them. I see no reason other than prejedice for desregarding islam as a religion that contributed so much to human wisdom during the dark ages of Europe.
Date published: 2020-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a splendid collection. The professor is one of the two best I have encountered on Great Courses. He may be the best!
Date published: 2020-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction Piece to Philosophy I avoided philosophy courses in college. This course has served as a wonderful introduction. Mr Garfield gives a good survey of philosophical movements from ancient to modern. His lectures are lively and interesting.
Date published: 2020-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It is great Learning experience, is unforgettable I just keep going back, to review every detail and it just keeps pulling you back very intriguing! Highly recomendable
Date published: 2019-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course amazing professor! A difficult subject made interesting. Jay is one of the best professors I have ever seen in action. We can all learn a great deal from his teaching techniques alone!
Date published: 2019-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In the top 5 of all the courses I've taken A thought provoking course presented in an excellent manner by the Professor. I had great interest in the thought processes of all the great intellectuals presented. Much of what most said I can accept, but no one's position could I accept in total. I presume (hope) that means I am thinking for myself. The three major areas I struggle with are: 1. We are here a short time only (death is real for even me). 2. We are not all alike so a single meaning of life for all people is difficult to imagine. 3. We can not escape (my belief) that we live in a logical world and are biological animals covered with a veneer supplied by the civilization of our time. One of the intellectual's position I did find to be the most complete to my way of thinking in today's world. I'm sure others would have different assessments. So maybe the meaning of life is unique to the individual making the effort to achieve that understanding.
Date published: 2019-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sincere perspective about a meaningful life Prof Garfield did an exceptional job explaining the various Asian schools of thought and religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc.). He shared source documents and helped interpret them in light of what is meaningful (to him). Rather than treat old source documents as only a matter of historic importance, he was able to find and share their deeper meaning, still fully relevant to life in the 21st century. As a former philosophy and religion major in college, one of my primary objections to these areas of focus was the objective manner in which studies are currently performed, as if the objects of study are sterile entities which no longer have a real meaning for us now. Prof Garfield does not fall prey to this orientation of being merely a distant, objective observer. Instead, he successfully conveys his interpretation of the current value and meaning of many great works from the past. In his last lecture, Prof Garfield purports to objectively identify “recurrent themes” common to most or all of the various perspectives covered in the course; the implication is that these common themes help us identify what is really meaningful in life, not specific to a particular school of thought. However, of necessity, when he assembled content for this course, Prof Garfield already was highly selective of the material based upon his own perspective. He then draws conclusions about this material, though the “conclusions” were already baked into the selection process. This is understandable and does not negate the value of this course. However, it’s important to note that even the conclusions in the last lecture are specific to Prof Garfield’s concept of a meaningful life. As mentioned in other course reviews, I found his constant hand gestures distracting.
Date published: 2019-04-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing The lecturer sometimes does not speak clearly. His explications did not get through to me anyway. I personally think that gospel-based religion with the philosophy: 'earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can' and with a good welfare system is all that humanity can aspire to, to give life meaning and purpose. If Ghandi's philosophy about how live an ethical life is the epitome then in my humble opinion he should have got out more.
Date published: 2019-04-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing, biased, mis-titled I didn't purchase this course to hear someone trying to sell me on a mystical Eastern religion and Yoga! But Dr. Garfield starts by relating Indian fairy tales, via the Bhagavad-Gita ~ "Discipline as the key to freedom." Obviously Dr. Garfield LOVES the Bhagavad-Gita. This professor is biased, continually seeking ways to support HIS views, presenting leading figures who support to his own commitment beliefs. This is VERY far from a balanced course. The question he tries to answer is "How can a finite life be meaningful in an infinite universe?" Moving on to Aristotle (Lecture 5), the professor reminds us we are still seeking an answer to the question "What is the meaning of life?" and remarks that there are many voices, from many different cultures. Yes, indeed. I think he was plainly wrong to start with Indian philosophy, so remote and alien to the huge majority of us in the West. I could not finish this course. For one thing, the professor does not in fact address the TITLE of the course ~ that is enough for me to drop out. An extremely disappointing course which I cannot recommend.
Date published: 2019-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Of 65 TGC courses -- the most useful information Probably needs a subtitle "a guide to life & living" as opposed to a tombstone epitaph. An excellent secular dissertation by numerous wise & renowned sages with varying & contrasting opposing perspectives. Since the question VARIES with the individual & culture - it appears NOBODY [really] knows "the meaning of life". Take your pick. The course was quite thorough. I took 31 pages of notes. The title term "meaning" can also be interpreted as "purpose". It is common sense to assess the "purpose" of something by asking the MANUFACTURER - not the manufactured. That would be equivalent of a Chevy explaining its meaning & purpose to a Ford. However, since it is not "politically correct" to mention god in the matter - I will use absurdity to illustrate absurdity: may the dignified intellectuals ask what our meaning & purpose is -- from the monkeys. Course was great & interesting - very satisfied.
Date published: 2019-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous class! I thoroughly enjoyed this class! The professor was engaging and knowledgeable. This is a class I wish I had taken in my twenties. The section on Aristotle was especially good as well as the Taoist and Buddhist lectures. I ordered the class on The Nicomachean Ethics because I found the Aristotle classes so fascinating.
Date published: 2018-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I’m glad that I bought this class. The best is the first 4 chapters, although the others are also well presented. I’d love to see a future class devoted solely on Nietzsche
Date published: 2018-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The world of Meanings I loved the historical background on each subject and the review of the prior lectures at the beginning of each new lecture. Loved the presentation of professor Jay L. Garfield, his passion for Philosophy, his dedication to learn all this, his knowledge, and humbling presentation. Inspired me to learn more about it.
Date published: 2018-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just what I wanted. Excellent presenter.Opened my mind.
Date published: 2018-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from and well worth a dollar Assuming you don't already have a PHD in philosophy and theology, there is a lot here worth hearing. Prof. Garfield is easy to listen to, and engaging. I have attended about 15 of the Great Courses sets, and I think this is my favorite.
Date published: 2018-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A smorgasbord with a few very tasty dishes The main complaints about this course, that it ignores much that one would expect from something entitled “Perspectives from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions” are well founded. But, they are not enough for me to withhold my recommendation. I thought that Professor Garfield was interesting and engaging in his way of lecturing. I thought, for example, that the lectures on Aristotle, which had to be an overview, were clear and helpful in an understanding of that important part of the Western tradition. I would only add for those hesitant about purchasing this series that although it is like a bit of a smorgasbord that tends to favor the Asian and South Asian intellectual cuisines, it is done well. And if one wants the meaning of life theme to be more Western and more meticulously developed from lecture to lecture, then I would strongly recommend Robert Kane’s compelling series entitled “Quest for meaning." But, give Professor Garfield his due. Smorgasbords sometime have a few very tasty dishes that are worth the price.
Date published: 2018-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Going for Breadth Rather Than Depth First: no, you don't get a certificate at the end of the course that you have now learned the meaning of life. Nor do you hear pontificated, the "true meaning" of life. This course is perhaps best understood as a fairly wide survey of philosophical and religious views of life (and its meaning) from a great diversity of traditions. I counted basically 16 such traditions (some might quibble, adding or subtracting 1 or 2 from that count). The most critical reviews complained that this lecturer is biased: against a monotheistic view of the world and much in favor of Eastern philosophies and religions. It's a fair point to observe that there isn't any lecture devoted to either a Christian or a Moslem understanding of the meaning of life. I would defend the series by observing that at least in Western countries where this course is most often going to get an audience, the monotheistic view of the meaning of life, certainly from a Christian view, and even to a large degree, the Moslem view, is pretty well understood. I think the lecturer wants to present as many new viewpoints to his audience as he thinks he can convey, and I also think that unless you are a professional scholar, some of these are bound to be new to you. From the Bhagavad Gita to Aristotle, from Nietzche to a native American, there's a lot of diversity here. It's true that some views receive the attention of only a single lecture and others as many as four, but I think perhaps there's a correlation between how great an impact that particular movement still has today, or how comprehensive its world-view is, and the amount of time spent on that movement. In the end, covering 16 differing world-views in only 36 lectures is bound to seem a rather superficial coverage, and yet inevitably there will be cries about why even more weren't included too. Nevertheless I'm glad that I went through the whole thing; I did get a broader perspective than I had beforehand. As usual, some of the stories are more memorable than the intellectual superstructures. It is the stories of lives lived that lend a feeling of vividness and reality to the concepts. Naturally I do not find myself in agreement with every viewpoint, or even with the Professor's understanding of some of the views, but then--why should we accept such matters unthinkingly? I doubt Professor Garfield would advocate that either.
Date published: 2018-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title describes the content and essence of the tal Very useful and fascinating ideas. Enjoyed every minute of the talk!
Date published: 2017-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses here. I have had the pleasure of listening to many courses here and can honestly say that this course by Dr. Garfield is one of the best, if not the best.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title is precise and accurate This course, one of dozens of my courses, is my favorite. Dr. Jay Garfield is enthusiastic, professional, and always seems eager for me to grasp the many great concepts and multiple ideas he is presenting. I am already planning on taking Dr. Garfield's course again and again for the joy of gaining a vast array of fascinating knowledge and share his enjoyment in the process. The persons who gave this course a lower rating maybe forgot to take the whole course, or read the course outline before hand?
Date published: 2017-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why philosophy should be studied by everyone This is an excellent example of why people should study philosophy. It has often been fashionable to dismiss philosophy as being unnecessary in the modern age, but Professor Jay Garfield certainly dispels this notion. Indeed, the title Meaning of Life strikes at the very core of our reasons for living. I doubt that this subject will ever be unimportant in reality. Professor Garfield follows the subject from early Indian culture to modern Buddhist thought, stopping to examine Aristotle, the Dao, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Gandhi and Lame Deer on the way. I recommend this course to anyone who is introspective enough to think critically about why we are here and where we are going.
Date published: 2017-09-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Course I enjoyed this course very much, and found the professor's enthusiasm for the subject matter very engaging. The inclusion of viewpoints from both philosophical and religious/spiritual traditions is, I think, the best aspect of this course. Also, the professor's style of presentation involved lots of summary and comparative comments, which tied the material together very nicely. My only disappointment with this course was a lack of content surrounding the transcendent or mystical aspects of finding meaning in life.
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lives up to its name I'm just about finished listening to the full course and have thoroughly enjoyed every lecture. I plan on listening to the whole course again.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from relevant and highly accurate This course is so fantastic that I am wondering why I ever actually attended classes on campuses for so many years. This is very high quality instruction that keeps my mind limber and allows me to study and learn areas in which I have great interest. As a result, the caliber of my overall knowledge has expanded as I become more learnered.
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from clear, accurate I've only listened to 5 lectures so far, but can tell this course is a winner. The teacher is engaging and presents the rather challenging subject matter clearly and with a quiet kind of passion that draws you in.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Inquiry into Life's Most Important Question I found this course to be a deep and thorough treatment of the question - "What is the Meaning of Life." The professor was both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I learn a lot and came to challenge my own assumptions.
Date published: 2016-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you have time for self reflection . . . this is an outstanding course to audit. The presentation is insightful, inclusive, and thought-provoking. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I have thoroughly enjoyed the first three lectures on discs one and two. However, the fourth lecture on disc two would not read on my Bose machine. It just happens to be about my favorite scripture, the Gita. So I would like to have you resend either disc two or another complete set, whichever is easier for you. Admittedly I have not tried to listen to the discs that followed disc two.
Date published: 2016-08-16
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Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions
Course Trailer
The Meaning of the Meaning of Life
1: The Meaning of the Meaning of Life

Establish the solid ground from which your journey will begin. You'll learn the meanings that the word "meaning," itself, may embody and preview the approaches you will take to the question that gives the course its name....

33 min
The Bhagavad-Gita-Choice and Daily Life
2: The Bhagavad-Gita-Choice and Daily Life

One of the core texts of the Mahabharata-a major moral and religious text for most Hindus-introduces you to the critically important skill of truly reading a text, deeply and with comprehension. It also begins your consideration of the concept of human choice....

30 min
The Bhagavad-Gita-Discipline and Duty
3: The Bhagavad-Gita-Discipline and Duty

Plunge more deeply into the Bhagavad-Gita's wisdom by grasping the three kinds of yogas, or disciplines, embedded in its metaphors. See why these disciplines of action, knowledge, and devotion are all required if life is to be coherent, integrated, and rational....

30 min
The Bhagavad-Gita-Union and Purpose
4: The Bhagavad-Gita-Union and Purpose

Conclude your reading of the Bhagavad-Gita with an appreciation of the theophany-Krishna's revelation of the nature of divinity. True freedom, says the Gita's final message, comes from disinterested action, reflective knowledge, and a finding of value at the cosmic level of a universe divine in its own right....

32 min
Aristotle on Life-The Big Picture
5: Aristotle on Life-The Big Picture

Shift your perspective from India to the roots of Western thought about life's meaning by beginning your study of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. This introductory lecture sets out the framework of Aristotle's view, as set forth in the lecture notes kept by his son and pupil, Nichomacheus....

31 min
Aristotle-The Highest Good
6: Aristotle-The Highest Good

Explore Aristotle's search for the "highest good." It is a search that takes you through his famous "function argument" and offers an explanation of the comprehensive state of being known as eudaimonea, the fully flourishing life that may well elude evaluation until long after death....

30 min
Aristotle-The Happy Life
7: Aristotle-The Happy Life

Your examination of Aristotle's ethical teachings concludes with his explanation of virtue, its key dimensions, and its necessary coupling with action. Special attention is also paid to the importance of friendship....

32 min
Job's Predicament-Life Is So Unfair
8: Job's Predicament-Life Is So Unfair

As you move to the Hebraic tradition, you grasp how the core question has shifted. Instead of seeking our answer in our relationship to the cosmos, as in the Indian tradition, or to society, as in that of the Greeks, the focus is now on our relationship to a personal God....

30 min
Job's Challenge-Who Are We?
9: Job's Challenge-Who Are We?

The book of Job brings an encounter with a troubling conclusion. Although life may indeed have meaning, it is a meaning shrouded by a mysterious divine, and we may need to live in ignorance of what that meaning may be....

32 min
Stoicism-Rationality and Acceptance
10: Stoicism-Rationality and Acceptance

Your focus moves to the beginnings of Stoic moral theory in the writings of Seneca and Epictetus. Their accounts of a good life describe one that is moderate, reasonable, and controlled, living in harmony with the universe and society, and accepting of the inevitability of death....

29 min
Human Finitude-The Epicurean Synthesis
11: Human Finitude-The Epicurean Synthesis

A brief introduction to Lucretius, the foremost Epicurean philosopher, serves as a gateway to the thought of Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius's Meditations synthesizes Stoic ideas about rational order and the importance of emotional control with Epicurean ideas about finitude and impermanence....

31 min
Confucius-Order in the Cosmos and in Life
12: Confucius-Order in the Cosmos and in Life

Your focus shifts to China and the ideas attributed to the man known to the West as Confucius. Hear what his teachings have to say about concepts like warm-heartedness, propriety, virtue, filial piety, the nature of the universe, and the achievement of an effortless excellence of character....

29 min
Daodejing-The Dao of Life and Spontaneity
13: Daodejing-The Dao of Life and Spontaneity

An exploration of a very different Chinese approach to understanding than that set forth in Confucianism begins with a cautionary demonstration of the startling differences in interpretation that will always be present among various translations of a text....

30 min
Daodejing-The Best Life Is a Simple Life
14: Daodejing-The Best Life Is a Simple Life

Some beautiful readings from the Daodejing bring out the profound differences in outlook that set it apart from Confucianism. Grasp how it turns away from social structures and the "cultivation" of individual excellence in favor of a simple, natural life....

31 min
Daodejing-Subtlety and Paradox
15: Daodejing-Subtlety and Paradox

Conclude your immersion in the Daodejing with this examination of some of its most important aspects. Take in its perspectives on the nature of the universe, the subtlety and suppleness of virtue, the value of "negativity," and the delicacy of life....

31 min
Zhuangzi on Daoism-Impermanence and Harmony
16: Zhuangzi on Daoism-Impermanence and Harmony

Your exploration of Daoism ends with its longest classical text, the Zhuangzi. You find not only the themes of spontaneity and the suspicion of logic, but also ridicule of the Confucian emphasis on ritual, propriety, and rigid relationships....

32 min
The Teachings of the Buddha
17: The Teachings of the Buddha

This lecture begins with the search for enlightenment by a young Indian prince and concludes with an introduction to what he found-the so-called Four Noble Truths, including the eightfold path to sharing that enlightenment....

32 min
Santideva-Mahayana Buddhism
18: Santideva-Mahayana Buddhism

Here you begin your study of one of the major evolutions in Buddhist thought, the Mahayana, and one of its major texts-Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara-a "how-to" manual for leading an enlightened life....

32 min
Santideva-Transforming the Mind
19: Santideva-Transforming the Mind

Enhance your grasp of Mahayana Buddhism and Santideva's description of the meaningful life, achieved only through the "six perfections"-the pursuit of generosity, propriety, patience, effort, meditation, and wisdom....

31 min
Zen-The Moon in a Dewdrop and Impermanence
20: Zen-The Moon in a Dewdrop and Impermanence

Expand your understanding of Buddhism with an introduction to Zen. This path to Buddhahood is aimed at direct transformation. Knowledge is handed directly from mind to mind, with great emphasis placed on a teacher-disciple lineage that each Zen master can trace directly to Zen's originating moment....

32 min
Zen-Being-Time and Primordial Awakening
21: Zen-Being-Time and Primordial Awakening

This lecture takes you through Zen concepts like duality and non-duality, perception and conception, Dogen's presentation of time as the very nature of our world, and what is required to reawaken our primordial Buddha-nature....

32 min
Taking Stock of the Classical World
22: Taking Stock of the Classical World

A look back at the classical traditions studied thus far reveals that although there is no unanimity, there are common dimensions, as well as a consensus about the value of a virtuoso life attained through contemplation and practice....

31 min
Hume's Skepticism and the Place of God
23: Hume's Skepticism and the Place of God

European modernity brings the first challenges of science and reason to the primacy of theology. David Hume argues that, although theism may well be reasonable, it cannot be rational, establishing the foundation for separate public and private spheres....

32 min
Hume's Careless and Compassionate Vision
24: Hume's Careless and Compassionate Vision

You explore Hume's distinctions between Nature and Second Nature, the importance of our social lives to our cognitive lives, and the key roles our passions and imagination play in our beliefs and actions....

31 min
Kant-Immaturity and the Challenge to Know
25: Kant-Immaturity and the Challenge to Know

The work of Immanuel Kant is considered the demarcation line for modern academic philosophy. Here you take up Kant's view of the Enlightenment as a call for people to emerge from their self-imposed immaturity and realize their nature as fully formed human beings....

30 min
Mill's Call to Individuality and to Liberty
26: Mill's Call to Individuality and to Liberty

Readings from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty reveal the first purely individualistic doctrine of the meaning of life encountered in the course. Mill presents the strongest possible defense of the connection between a meaningful life and a liberal social order....

32 min
Tolstoy-Is Everyday Life the Real Thing?
27: Tolstoy-Is Everyday Life the Real Thing?

A novella by Tolstoy presents a very different and critical view of modernity, suggesting that its values of secularization and mass society invariably lead us, in fact, to a life that is meaningless....

31 min
Nietzsche-Twilight of the Idols
28: Nietzsche-Twilight of the Idols

Nietzsche initiates postmodernism in philosophy-its first sustained attack on modernity. Through readings from his Twilight of the Idols, you grasp Nietzsche's dismissal of modernity's core values, including philosophical progress, reason, systematicity, god, and transcendent value....

30 min
Nietzsche-Achieving Authenticity
29: Nietzsche-Achieving Authenticity

Nietzsche's repudiation of modernity's concept of a meaningful life does not mean he lacks his own. This lecture presents his vision of life as a successful creative act on a grand scale, with oneself as the hero of a great autobiography....

30 min
Gandhi-Satyagraha and Holding Fast to Truth
30: Gandhi-Satyagraha and Holding Fast to Truth

Your introduction to the thought of Gandhi reveals him as even more radical than Nietzsche. Although a realization of Gandhi's views would admittedly sacrifice many of modernity's benefits, including much of technology, medicine, and law, it is a price he says we must be willing to pay....

31 min
Gandhi-The Call to a Supernormal Life
31: Gandhi-The Call to a Supernormal Life

Gandhi's own life serves as an example of the supernormal life he advocates. See how his argument for what he believes to be the only meaningful life includes echoes from almost every text we've examined....

31 min
Lame Deer-Life Enfolded in Symbols
32: Lame Deer-Life Enfolded in Symbols

Readings from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions offer a different vantage point for seeking meaning: a symbolic view of life. It is not that modernity lacks its own symbolism or is without meaning, says this Lakota Sioux holy man, but that it means the wrong things....

28 min
Lame Deer-Our Place in a Symbolic World
33: Lame Deer-Our Place in a Symbolic World

Go deeper into Lame Deer's critique of modernity, examining his ideas about the impact of money and our fetishism about it, the alienation from nature it brings about, and modernity's simultaneous denial and spreading of death....

33 min
HH Dalai Lama XIV-A Modern Buddhist View
34: HH Dalai Lama XIV-A Modern Buddhist View

You are introduced to the Dalai Lama's Buddhist-inflected but very modern, secular vision about the universal human goal of happiness. You learn its components and the relationship between their pursuit and the interconnectedness of human life....

32 min
HH Dalai Lama XIV-Discernment and Happiness
35: HH Dalai Lama XIV-Discernment and Happiness

A vigorous discussion of how to achieve happiness reveals how the Dalai Lama's views of a meaningful life, modern as they are, also contain a deep traditionalist thread. We must still commit to the bodhisattva path, the altruistic aspiration to attain awakening for the benefit of all....

32 min
So, What Is the Meaning of Life?
36: So, What Is the Meaning of Life?

Tempting as it may be to form a single answer agreed on by all, there is none to be found. What is clear is that there are recurrent themes, with the answer that works for you likely to be found among them....

34 min
Jay L. Garfield

The beauty of 'doing' philosophy is that we don't have to make yes-or-no choices.


University of Pittsburgh


Smith College

About Jay L. Garfield

Dr. Jay L. Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and director of both the Logic Program and of the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at Smith College. The holder of a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Garfield also serves on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts, Melbourne University in Australia, and the Central University of Tibetan Studies in India. A specialist in the philosophy of mind, foundations of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, Buddhist philosophy, cross-cultural hermeneutics, theoretical and applied ethics, and epistemology, he has been widely honored by fellow scholars. Professor Garfield has written more than 100 scholarly articles and reviews and has written or edited, alone and with colleagues, more than 15 books, including Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (2002); Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation (2006); Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (2009); Pointing at the Moon: Buddhism, Logic, Analysis (2009); Trans-Buddhism: Transmission, Translation and Transformation (2009); Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (2010); and The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy (2010).

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