Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition

Course No. 4620
Professor Grant Hardy, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Asheville
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Course No. 4620
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Course Overview

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. When most of us study philosophy, we're focusing only on the Western intellectual tradition brought about by people such as Aristotle, Descartes, and Nietzsche. But to understand the Western intellectual tradition is to only get half of the story.

Just as important, and just as valid a contribution to philosophy, is the Eastern intellectual tradition. Eastern philosophy is also the product of thousands of years of thought and was also built up by a distinct group of brilliant thinkers. Among these are

  • the Buddha,
  • Confucius,
  • Gandhi, and
  • Zarathustra.

Their ideas demonstrate fascinating, wholly different ways of approaching, understanding, and solving the same fundamental questions that concerned the West's greatest thinkers, such as

  • the existence of God,
  • the meaning of life,
  • the nature of truth and reality,
  • the organization of government and society,
  • the significance of suffering, and
  • the roots of a well-lived life.

To explore Eastern perspectives on these issues is to embark on an illuminating journey into the heart of grand, but often unfamiliar, civilizations. It's also a thought-provoking way to understand the surprising connections and differences between East and West, and to strengthen your knowledge of cultures that play increasingly important roles in our globalized 21st-century world.

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is an epic, comprehensive survey of the East's most influential philosophers and thinkers. In 36 lectures, award-winning Professor Grant Hardy of the University of North Carolina at Asheville introduces you to the men and women responsible for molding Asian philosophy and for giving birth to a wide variety of spiritual and ideological systems, including Hinduism, Daoism, Confucianism, Sufism, and Buddhism. By focusing on these key thinkers in their historical contexts, you'll witness the development of these rich traditions as they shaped and defined Eastern cultures through the rise and fall of empires, the friendly and hostile encounters with each other and with the Western world, and the rapid advancements of the modern age.

Eastern Philosophy Made Clear

When compared with the West, Eastern philosophical thought is much more inextricably linked with spiritual concepts and beliefs. To help you make sense of the unfamiliar nature of Eastern philosophy and its strong ties with spirituality, Professor Hardy has organized this course into four basic parts.

  • Part One traces the origins of Eastern philosophy in the cosmological and theological views that arose in India and China beginning around 1200 B.C., including Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and Daoism.
  • Part Two explores the famous developers of legalism, Mahayana and Chinese Buddhism, yoga, and other intellectual schools that emerged during the age of early Eastern empires and built on the foundations of the past.
  • Part Three focuses on the great thinkers who flourished starting in the early 12th century, many of whose schools of thought—including Sikhism, Vedanta Hinduism, and Neo-Confucianism—revolutionized cultural notions of society, aesthetics, and faith.
  • Part Four delves into the modern era, when the convergence of East and West spurred the development of philosophical beliefs that became even more politicized and blended with independence movements and that reacted to ideologies such as Communism and capitalism.

In most lectures, Professor Hardy focuses on two key individuals, often taking a comparative approach to their lives, their views, and their legacies on various schools of thought. The result is a learning experience that makes a seemingly intimidating stretch of time and a diverse cast of characters approachable and understandable.

Throughout your chronological journey, you'll spend a majority of time among the three major countries that form the core of the Eastern intellectual tradition, exploring their unique philosophical themes and spiritual paths.

  • India: The concepts of reincarnation, cosmic justice, and liberation; a focus on logical analysis and direct insight (often achieved through yoga or meditation); the union of religion and politics; and more.
  • China: A constant appeal to the past in guiding the present; practical views that highlight harmony, balance, and social order; a keen appreciation of the cycles of nature; a form of politics that balances legal constraints with personal ethics; and more.
  • Japan: The adaptation and transformation of Confucianism; a distinct philosophy of aesthetics; a focus on group identity and consensus; an openness to adaptation from the Western world; and more.

You'll also travel to places like Korea, Tibet, and Iran, exploring their own contributions to the East's grand philosophical dialogue.

Meet Familiar—and Unfamiliar—Geniuses

So who exactly are the greatest minds in Eastern philosophical thought?

While there are probably too many to count, Professor Hardy focuses on several dozen major figures who have had the greatest impact on Asian intellectual history, and whose influence has often extended beyond cultural borders.

"I am confident that the great minds who have been included in this course will give you a basic understanding of Asian intellectual history and a good foundation for further studies," he says.

Among the many sages, mystics, poets, revolutionaries, critics, novelists, politicians, and scientists you encounter in Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition are some you may have heard of before but have never gotten an in-depth introduction to.

  • Zarathustra: This ancient Persian priest was the father of Zoroastrianism, a belief system that spread throughout the near East and parts of the West. Zarathustra's greatest insight was that the universe is characterized by dualism, with good and evil locked in a cosmic conflict in which individuals must choose one side or the other.
  • The Buddha: Born Siddhartha Gautama around 563 B.C., the Buddha achieved a profound state of enlightenment after meditating under a bodhi tree. Although he retained classical ideas from Hinduism, he sharply differed from it when he taught that nothing has a soul and that any grasping at permanence ends in suffering and failure.
  • Confucius: A contemporary of the Buddha, Confucius is the most significant philosopher in Chinese history. He developed a program for lifelong moral growth that would influence the culture for more than a thousand years. Confucius saw the answer to the increased violence and lawlessness of his society as rooted in the social standards of sages, not revelation.
  • Gandhi: Best known for the concept of satyagraha (nonviolent resistance), this Indian independence fighter changed his philosophical ideas over time in response to particular situations. His overarching goal, however, was a more humane way of life based on self-government, self-sufficiency, and a deep connection to one's community.

Many of the great minds in this course will undoubtedly be new to you, but despite their unfamiliarity, you'll learn that their lives and views held just as profound an influence on the course of Eastern philosophy and history. Four of the many figures you'll come face to face with are

  • Ashoka, the Indian ruler and Buddhist convert whose role in the spread of Buddhism is similar to that of Emperor Constantine's in Christianity;
  • Prince Shotoku, one of the most admired individuals in Japan and author of a 17-article constitution that, unlike the U.S. Constitution, was a list of moral injunctions on leadership;
  • Patanjali, the Indian philosopher who developed yoga as a means not for stress reduction or flexibility but for people to escape life's suffering and achieve spiritual liberation; and
  • Nanak, a contemporary of Martin Luther who became the first Sikh guru and taught that salvation comes when the soul, after cycles of reincarnation, is finally united with the One God.

A Powerful Gateway into Eastern Thought

Professor Hardy is renowned for his expertise on Eastern culture and his passionate teaching skills. The University of North Carolina at Asheville honored him with its distinguished Teacher Award for the Arts and Humanities Faculty, and named him to a prestigious Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship. Whether he's describing the tiniest evolutionary change in Japanese philosophical schools, unearthing the hidden pearls of wisdom in ancient Chinese koans and poems, or breaking down the complexities of the Hindu pantheon, Professor Hardy is an authoritative guide who will no doubt intrigue and enlighten you.

Often regarded as impenetrable, Eastern philosophy is surprisingly more accessible (and sometimes more familiar) than you may have imagined. And Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a powerful gateway into a unique collection of customs, ideas, beliefs, and attitudes—and the brilliant individuals responsible for them.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Life's Great Questions—Asian Perspectives
    Professor Hardy introduces you to this survey of Eastern philosophy's great minds and ideas. After providing a road map for the course, he answers two questions that demand to be asked: What does the Eastern intellectual tradition look like? Why does it matter to those of us in the West? x
  • 2
    The Vedas and Upanishads—The Beginning
    Witness how the Eastern intellectual tradition began in India with two anonymous writings: the Vedas and the Upanishads. The former contains the East's earliest thoughts on social conventions (specifically the Indo-Aryan caste system), while the latter sees thinkers truly starting to struggle with basic questions about existence and knowledge. x
  • 3
    Mahavira and Jainism—Extreme Nonviolence
    Jainism developed as a rejection of the authority of the Vedas and Brahmin priests. Investigate the views of its founder, Mahavira; delve into Jainism's central tenets and ideas; and listen to two ancient stories that illustrate the pervasiveness of suffering in the world and the theory of multiple truths. x
  • 4
    The Buddha—The Middle Way
    Buddhism, like Jainism, grew as another of India's major heterodox schools of thought. Get an overview of this philosophical and spiritual school by exploring the Buddha's life story, Buddhism's basic principles (including the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path), the daily practices of Buddhists, and more. x
  • 5
    The Bhagavad Gita—The Way of Action
    Written partly in response to challenges posed by Buddhism, the Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important writings in Eastern intellectual history. Comb through this landmark text's pages, paying particular attention to its historical context and its emphasis on karma yoga, or acting without attachment to success or failure. x
  • 6
    Confucius—In Praise of Sage-Kings
    Focus now on China and the ideas of its first philosopher, Confucius. What was life like during the "age of Confucius"? What are the key ideas and lessons to take away from the Analects, which collect his various sayings? How does Confucianism work for a society? A family? An individual? x
  • 7
    Laozi and Daoism—The Way of Nature
    Examine Daoism, the second of China's major philosophies, cultivated by a legendary figure known as Laozi. This school's central text, the Daodejing, offers unique solutions to the problems of social disorder and violence and provides rulers and individuals with practical advice that prefers simplicity and humility over power and ambition. x
  • 8
    The Hundred Schools of Pre-imperial China
    The Warring States Era (475–221 B.C.) was a golden age in Chinese philosophy. Meet three great minds from this period: Mozi, whose ideas centered on "universal love"; Huizi, who explored the relativity of time and space; and Zhuangzi, who argued for a radical skepticism that refused to choose between contradictory positions. x
  • 9
    Mencius and Xunzi—Confucius's Successors
    Mencius and Xunzi, both followers of Confucius, are likened to the ancient Greek thinkers Plato and Aristotle (who learned from Socrates). Both Chinese philosophers accepted the main precepts of Confucianism, but disagreed on several issues. Compare their views on morality, the existence of evil, the principles of economics, and more. x
  • 10
    Sunzi and Han Feizi—Strategy and Legalism
    Sunzi was a Chinese philosopher best known for The Art of War, which promoted the merits of strategic, deceptive warfare. Han Feizi epitomized legalism, the philosophical school aimed at strengthening the state through rational means. Both thinkers—and their roles in the Eastern intellectual tradition—are the subject of this illuminating lecture. x
  • 11
    Zarathustra and Mani—Dualistic Religion
    Follow the lives and teachings of two ancient Persian minds. Zarathustra's faith, Zoroastrianism, posited a universe in which the forces of good and evil were locked in combat. Mani later expanded on this dualistic notion to develop Manichaeism, in which this struggle represented the larger battle between spirit and matter. x
  • 12
    Kautilya and Ashoka—Buddhism and Empire
    Go back to India during the time of Mauryan Empire (322–185 B.C.) and encounter two of its most renowned political thinkers: Kautilya, who sought to combine ethics with political pragmatism, and Ashoka, the Buddhist convert who desired to govern with compassion. How did their intriguing ideas define India—then and now? x
  • 13
    Ishvarakrishna and Patanjali—Yoga
    The yoga commonly practiced in the West stems from the ideas of Ishvarakrishna and Pantajali. Learn how the former developed the metaphysical theories of matter and spirit behind yoga, while the latter cultivated the physical and mental disciplines designed to yoke the body and mind toward spiritual liberation. x
  • 14
    Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu—Buddhist Theories
    Although the Buddha discouraged philosophy, some of his disciples nevertheless began exploring philosophical questions. The result was the birth of Mahayana Buddhism. Here, get a pointed introduction to two major figures in its development and refinement—Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu—and their views on reality, existence, truth, and consciousness. x
  • 15
    Sima Qian and Ban Zhao—History and Women
    First, pore over the pages of Sima Qian's Shiji (The Grand Scribe's Records), which offered a comprehensive history of the world that profoundly influenced China's cultural identity. Then, meet Ban Zhao, the first great female mind of Eastern philosophy and an insightful commentator on the complex relationships between men and women. x
  • 16
    Dong Zhongshu and Ge Hong—Eclecticism
    Witness the continued evolution of Confucianism and Daoism through the lens of two great Eastern thinkers. The first is Dong Zhongshu, who combined traditional Confucian moralism with cosmological speculations rooted in nature. The second is Ge Hong, China's most famous alchemist who reconciled several strands of Neo-Daoism with Confucianism. x
  • 17
    Xuanzang and Chinese Buddhism
    After the collapse of the Han dynasty in A.D. 220, Buddhism became widely accepted in China. Explore the ideas of the four major schools of Chinese Buddhism: Tiantai, Huayan (Flower Garland), Pure Land, and Chan (Zen). Also, meet the most important mind behind Buddhism's spread, the monk and translator Xuanzang. x
  • 18
    Prince Shotoku, Lady Murasaki, Sei Shonagon
    Shift now to Japan, which merged Chinese philosophical ideas with Japanese traditions. Professor Hardy introduces you to three early intellectuals and their works: Prince Shotoku and his 17-article constitution; Murasaki Shikibu and her psychological novel, the Tale of Genji; and Se Shonagon and her commentary on court life, the Pillow Book. x
  • 19
    Saicho to Nichiren—Japanese Buddhism
    Take a closer look at the development of Buddhism in Japan. Among the early Buddhist thinkers you encounter in this lecture are Saicho, founder of Japan's foremost Buddhist temple; Honen, who established Japan's Pure Land sect; and Nichiren, whose form of Buddhism is one of the most prominent in modern Japan. x
  • 20
    Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva—Hindu Vedanta
    Why is the Vedanta school of Hinduism the most important and influential of the six orthodox darshanas? How did three great Indian philosophers—Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva—bring order to the confusing teachings of the Upanishads? How did they each conceive the critical relationship between self (Atman) and absolute reality (Brahman)? x
  • 21
    Al-Biruni—Islam in India
    One fascinating aspect of the Eastern intellectual tradition is the intricate relationship between Hinduism and Islam. After a brief overview of Islam and its arrival in India, delve into some of the vast intellectual accomplishments of Al-Biruni, whom Professor Hardy considers one of the greatest minds in world history. x
  • 22
    Nanak and Sirhindi—Sikhism and Sufism
    Conclude your look at the connections between Hinduism and Islam with this exploration of how thinkers tried to find a balance between the two faiths. Guru Nanak founded Sikhism as a religious tradition that was neither Hindu nor Muslim. Ahmad Sirhindi, a Sufi master, worked to establish clear philosophical boundaries between Hinduism and Islam. x
  • 23
    Han Yu to Zhu Xi—Neo-Confucianism
    Follow the rise of a new major system of Eastern thought: Neo-Confucianism, a philosophy concerned more with ethics than with the soul. Some great early Neo-Confucians you meet include Han Yu (who revived an interest in Confucian ideas) and Zhu Xi, who answered Buddhist questions about metaphysics with Confucian insights. x
  • 24
    Wang Yangming—The Study of Heart-Mind
    Neo-Confucianism is a supremely practical philosophy, according to Professor Hardy. Find out why in his lecture on how intellectuals such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming applied the principles of Neo-Confucianism to education and knowledge—specifically through China's iconic imperial examination system, which lasted from the 7th century until 1905. x
  • 25
    Dogen and Hakuin—Zen Buddhism
    Zen Buddhism, which teaches that meditation under the guidance of an enlightened master is the only way to liberation, is the most famous form of Japanese Buddhism. Investigate this philosophy through two Zen masters: Dogen, of the Soto school of gradual enlightenment, and Hakuin, from the Rinzai school of sudden enlightenment. x
  • 26
    Zeami and Sen no Rikyu—Japanese Aesthetics
    Noh drama and the tea ceremony are indebted to Confucian rituals and Buddhist ideals. Learn how the great Noh playwright Zeami and the teamaster Sen no Rikyu epitomize medieval Japanese aesthetics and their emphasis on yugen (profound emotion), wabi (feelings of age and obscurity), and sabi (feelings of simplicity and tranquility). x
  • 27
    Wonhyo to King Sejong—Korean Philosophy
    Focus here on Korean philosophy and three of its greatest proponents. They are Wonhyo, who popularized Buddhism throughout the country; Chinul, who tried to bridge the divide between the doctrinal and meditation schools of Buddhism; and Sejong the Great, who invented one of the most scientific, rational scripts ever devised. x
  • 28
    Padmasambhava to Tsongkhapa—Tibetan Ideas
    Philosophy and religion are nowhere more connected than in Tibet, whose Vajrayana school of Buddhism emphasizes secret rituals and meditative practices. Examine key minds, including the man who introduced Buddhism to Tibet (Padmasambhava), a mystic who felt Enlightenment must be experienced directly (Milarepa), and the fascinating figure of the Dalai Lama. x
  • 29
    Science and Technology in Premodern Asia
    Discover how science and technology form a part of the Eastern intellectual tradition through the discoveries, theories, and insights of people such as Aryabhata (from India) and Shen Gua (from China). Also, ponder the question of why the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions occurred in Europe and not in Asia. x
  • 30
    Muhammad Iqbal and Rabindranath Tagore
    There were many ways that Asian thinkers confronted the technological superiority of Western civilization. See how the views of Pakistan's chief poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal and India's Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore held on to respective Islamic and Hindu traditions while accommodating them to the strengthening presence of the West. x
  • 31
    Mohandas Gandhi—Satyagraha, or Soul-Force
    Mohandas Gandhi is rightfully one of the most well-known Asian philosophers. What are the historical roots of some of his ideas, especially that of nonviolent resistance (satyagraha)? Why were some of his critiques of the West and modernity so controversial? What was the relationship between his ascetic lifestyle and his thought? x
  • 32
    Fukuzawa Yukichi and Han Yongun
    After a brief look at Japanese and Korean history between the 19th and 20th centuries, explore the intriguing perspectives of the Westernizer Fukuzawa Yukichi and the traditionalist Han Yongun. The former stressed the development of an independent-minded middle class; the latter sought answers to contemporary crises in Buddhist tenets. x
  • 33
    Kang Youwei and Hu Shi
    Of all the nations in Asia, China had the most difficult transition to the modern era. Delve into Chinese reform through Kang Youwei, who argued for the persistence of Confucian attitudes in the face of Western individualism, and Hu Shi, whose championing of vernacular Chinese allowed intellectuals to escape the strangleholds of the past. x
  • 34
    Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong
    Come face to face with two pivotal figures in recent Chinese history. Sun Yat-sen is considered the father of Chinese nationalism and energized the people with his ideas. Mao Zedong, one of modern history's most infamous figures, is noted for his brutal application of the Communist ideologies of Marx and Lenin. x
  • 35
    Modern Legacies
    In the first of two final lectures on the modern legacies of Eastern philosophy, Professor Hardy takes a look back at vital lessons from India's and China's great minds and recaps the enduring themes on fundamental human issues that form the core of their rich intellectual traditions. x
  • 36
    East and West
    Continue examining themes from Chinese and Japanese philosophy. Then, conclude the course with a revealing discussion of a question you may have asked at the start of these lectures: What does this have to do with my life? The answer will open your eyes to the enduring importance of the East's great minds. x

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Your professor

Grant Hardy

About Your Professor

Grant Hardy, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Asheville
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies and Director of the Humanities Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has received a wealth of awards and accolades for both his teaching and his scholarship. At the University of North...
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Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 84.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great overview of Eastern Thinking This course provides a great overview of Eastern scholars and their philosophies.
Date published: 2019-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really excellent presentation As a follow on to the western philosophy course this course seemed the next step. This is a terrific overview and at the right depth. The classes are very well organized and very well presented filling in great gaps in my education. I highly recommend this course
Date published: 2019-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Asian Philosophy and history The presenter is very knowledgeable and personable, but has a slight speech problem which detracts somewhat from his lectures. All the same it is a comprehensive look at Asian thought and religions and worth the effort to go through.
Date published: 2019-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! This class is very insightful into eastern philosophy, I learned a lot about Jainism, Buddhism, confusionnisme and other eastern traditions and ideas.
Date published: 2019-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding course Great choice of content and superb organization. Outstanding lecture delivery.
Date published: 2019-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Opened my eyes to worlds I never knew before My background is probably very similar to yours - I'm interested in many areas but knew almost nothing about the Eastern Intellectual Tradition. This course opened my eyes to entire worlds I did not know previously. I was familiar with some of the names, such as Confucius and Buddha, this course brought many others alive for me. Sima Qian was an incredible story, so were Mencius, Ban Zhao, Sei Shonagon, Al-Biruni, Muhammad Iqbal, and many others. These and many more names and places are now familiar to me, and I'm much more comfortable with ideas and people from the East than before I watched this course. The course is extremely fair and objective about each of the traditions and people that are profiled. This is a very unbiased presentation of the information. It is done in a very engaging way that makes the material easy to learn. As a note, I watched this course on DVD, and I enjoy that format immensely. This is a course that I've enjoyed re-watching, it's really that good! I give my highest recommendation to this course, it's truly one of the best I've ever watched.
Date published: 2019-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Hardy is an excellent scholar. It is my pleasure to add my voice to those who highly recommend this course. I have listened to it twice and might possibly listen to it again. I am a language student with a good command of Japanese, Chinese and Arabic and am familiar with the most basic texts that are referenced in this course and are in those languages. (Unfortunately, I don't have Sanskrit or other sub-continental languages.) I bought this course to deepen and broaden the understanding I already had of these cultures resulting from my language studies. It fulfilled that purpose excellently. From my language knowledge I can also vouch for the accuracy of Prof. Hardy's content to the extent that a linguist is in a position to judge that. (His Chinese accent is noticeably better than his Japanese accent, but that is consistent with his personal history and his own areas of research interest.) I would also add that Prof. Hardy comes across as a delightfully pleasant, modest person, whom one would love to get to know personally, and to whom it is a pleasure to listen.
Date published: 2019-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a great introduction! This course was perfect for me. I knew little about the Eastern intellectual tradition beyond some stereotypes, and I wanted a deeper understanding of the cultures of India, China, Japan, Korea, etc. This course is long enough (36 lectures) to provide that geographic reach, as well as to reach far back in time and drive forward to the present, and to survey a wide range of types of thought, while still having some depth. The minds we meet are diverse and interesting, and Prof. Hardy seems to do a great job explaining them -- giving the broad strokes, but using a fine brush to draw distinctions and to help avoid Western stereotypes -- while adding interesting personal details and stories that bring them to life as characters, too. He places them into historical context, and shows their influence on modern thought and society as well. Prof. Hardy is a superb lecturer. He's enthusiastic and warm with a good voice and a pleasant, gentle style, and I enjoy listening to him talk. He clearly enjoys the great ideas, virtues, and oddities of the people he's discussing. He's also very good about harkening back to earlier lectures. He knows that the names, historical events, and concepts are unfamiliar, and he's very good about saying things like, "Remember Nagarjuna? He was the person we met in lecture three who said,..." or "Maybe you can see how this is Taoist, because it involves X, but shows the influence of Confucianism, because it involves Y..." He said in his introductory lecture that he was inspired to make this course because of a similar course on the Western intellectual tradition that (IIRC) he had taken in college, and he wanted something similar for the East. It seems to me that he has done an outstanding job. I'll probably need to listen to this course multiple times to remember a lot of the detail, but it will be a pleasure to do so.
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Feels Bhagvad Gita condones Nazism and Terrorism! Completely agree with the previous reviewer. Stunningly the author compares the Bhagvad Gita's philosophy to Nazism and terrorist killings! Sadly he is not aware of either the actual terms of Hinduism or even the basic way to pronounce them. Did he have a bad experience with an Indian call centre and hence the smirk and nonsensical comparisons. I mean Mahatma Gandhi - the father of modern non-violence read Gita every day and here we have someone who compares it to....nazism! Stunning!
Date published: 2018-07-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good for Eastern but poor at Indian religions It is pretty clear that having spent time in the East ,the author is well versed and partial to Chinese religions. However,it is sad that he is allowed to speak on Hinduism/Jain/Buddhism when he is not even aware of the correct pronunciations of Hindu words which even westerners are familiar. For example 'Kshathriya' is not 'Ka-shat -riy' !
Date published: 2018-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Excellent: Very well prepared and presented. Lots of research went into this course
Date published: 2018-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from And Important Overview of Ethics and Methaphysics Professor Hardy is superb at both outlining where he intends to go and also in summarizing the material he has covered. He also goes to considerable lengths to help the auditor/viewer to keep track of the various traditions within and between cultures. (The accompanying visual aids were extremely helpful in this regard, also!) That said, I confess to having experienced some frustration in keeping straight the development within and between the traditions, and also in the frequent movement between topics that were more metaphysical in nature -- e.g., the nature of existence, the relationship between humans and "the other" -- from those that were more focused on ethics -- i.e., how one should comport one's self in the world in order to achieve success, happiness, avoid experiencing or causing pain, etc. The latter ethical implications of the various traditions are, for me at least, far more interesting and important, even though may of the existential queries echo and inform like questioning in the West's traditions. Having said this, I believe the course to be an excellent beginning point for those who wish to pursue, in greater detail, one or more of the traditions discussed in the course. It is important to understood their differences as well as their commonalities, and it is fascinating to see how their evolving understandings were influenced by ideas and challenges from others. Those who found themselves fascinated by works such as Aristotle's Ethics or the intricate reasoning of Kant might well deeply enjoy this course. For others, whose preferences run more towards Plato's Dialogues or the applied theoretical principles of America's Founding Fathers, just a warning about some of the more difficult intricacies to be experienced in this course.
Date published: 2018-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Penetrating Analysis Of Eastern Thought & Origins Most of us in the United States have educations that pretty much ignored Eastern thought and its origins unless there was a concentration in that area. This course presented thought and its history in a very understandable manner. Professor Grant Hardy had an extremely engaging and entertaining manner of discussion that I enjoyed. I strongly recommend this course to anyone desiring to better understand Eastern Thought and its influence on our world.
Date published: 2017-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beyond My Expectations! I have a bit of background in this area, but I had never put what I had previously known into any particular order. So, I really appreciate the organization of this course. It includes everything I would expect and then some. I particularly like the way Professor Hardy uses comparison and contrast to illustrate his points.I also like his consistent way of introducing topics, summarizing them and reminding the learner of certain specific ideas throughout. He is so considerate of various views and places where the learner might get confused. I've taught for decades at the university level, and I can attest to the difficulty of doing such a complex survey course. I was so impressed I ordered another of his courses. It's terrific, too!
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A decent course A course on philosophical traditions is difficult to condense in 30 lectures. The professor must also make the course accessible to a multitude of audience. So, I recognize the constraints lecturers here face. Nonetheless, I found the course to be useful but needing a bit more detail in the lectures as well as the course guidebook. I found myself needing a bit more clarity on certain terms and concepts, only to find these often omitted from the guidebook. The course would benefit from a bit less storytelling and the addition of more detail in the lectures
Date published: 2017-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful intro into the minds of the East after listening to the course twice I would like to own it.
Date published: 2017-05-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable course I liked this course but it didn't grab me quite as much as some of the other philosophy / intellectual history courses offered.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course This is an amazing course that not only gives the panorama the subject, but also goes deep enough at key points to make you want to learn much more. Recommended Readings are excellent as well.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A truly great course. Thank you for the details and coverage of the content materials.
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another hit! Great review of a difficult - and sometimes confusing - subject. The examples used make the concepts easier to understand. But you still have to THINK. And that's the important part!
Date published: 2016-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! It was very entertaining and informative.
Date published: 2016-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow ! So many new names Prof Hardy displays such great enthusiasm from the start - so much so that he seems to be almost bursting. Wonderful ! The avalanche of names in the first few lectures should not put you off as you can always go back (this is why I always purchase the DVDs). Moreover, the main point is not the names but the philosophical content. His progression through history shows the slow evolution of thought concerning life and its challenges, albeit often aligned with religious beliefs. A great Great Course.
Date published: 2015-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great and Satisfying Course I highly recommend this course. The professor accomplished the goals he originally set and made this an enjoyable listen. Pluses: • The professor explained the philosophical concepts in such a way that they were easy to grasp • The professor seemed personable and down to earth • Most lectures focused on two “great minds” per lecture which was a great way to organize and avoid overload (an indigestible string of one person after another) • The intersection with the west Minuses: • While the foundation of Buddhism was covered well, subsequent lectures on the various schools that sprouted seemed esoteric and somewhat hard to grasp
Date published: 2015-09-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing! After listening to Prof. Muesse's brilliant lectures on Religions of the Axial Age, my partner and I were inspired to learn more about Eastern thought. Prof. Hardy's course seemed perfect for us: a detailed, in-depth look at key figures in that tradition. What we found, however, was that the only criterion for being a "great mind" was being famous, and that all Prof. Hardy does is summarize the lives and writings of famous people. It's like listening to someone read Wikipedia! Aside from the extended metaphor he uses to frame the course--Eastern philosophy as a hotel consortium--Prof. Hardy puts no effort into organizing, theorizing, or interpreting the ideas he relays. His uncritical, reverential attitude toward metaphysical thought is particularly annoying. Why should we care that so-and-so thought the universe was basically good, while such-and-such thought it was basically evil? If in fact these men were influential in their time, WHY were they influential, and why should we still care about them? After slogging through 18 hours of Prof. Hardy's encyclopedic arcana, I still don't know--and cannot fathom why the ratings for this course are so high.
Date published: 2015-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great minds of Easter tradition Also a very interesting course which I took simultaneously with 5000 years of Chinese history. In many ways the two courses complimented each other
Date published: 2015-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fab all around Loved this series. Found it to be a real model of how to present an overview of a huge field: with clarity, enthusiasm, lots of useful repetitions, mucho context-setting, and a terrific instinct for what people who might never have another chance to go thru this material might need. It seems that some pedagogues have learned a lot about how to teach and inform effectively since I was a kid. Grant Hardy was so good with his brief setting-the-historical-context passages that I’d love to hear him deliver a series on Eastern history generally. As far as content goes: many, many names I’d never heard before. I’d read a lot of Eastern philosophy and some of the major literature, but in a very scattershot way, so it was super-helpful to have it all lined up and related to each other. Hardy’s also very good at helping you understand the historical reasons why these movements emerged and caught fire.
Date published: 2015-03-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Biased! I am very interested in how Eastern traditions affect thinking and culture, was hoping to learn more. This professor presents much material in relation to Christianity. I'm not interested in comparisons. Anchoring to one tradition disallows an in depth examination from within the material. When he talked about reincarnation in relation to Christianity's life after death via belief in Christ, I lost faith in the presentation. When he took it another step by claiming 'this is what most Jews also believe' - I turned it off. This is simply not true. Ever hear of 'dust to dust'? Life after death is non sequitur. His personal beliefs, absurdity aside - should not be part of an intellectual discussion.
Date published: 2015-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New Ideas This is a wonderful course delivered with passion and intelligence. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was not until I had worked through the Great Ideas of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition a couple of times that I realized how limiting spending 50 years immersed in the Western Intellectual tradition had become. Post Script: Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition by: Professor Daniel N. Robinson Ph.D. As mentioned by professor Hardy is also excellent.
Date published: 2015-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique subject matter I have listened to this course carefully 3 times and may go for a 4th---even I teach courses in cross-cultural issues myself and have lived in a dozen countries. It emphasizes historical figures and traditions that the people over there see as important, rather than those Westerners see as important. This perspective is almost impossible to find in any other English-language source. The instructor also makes perceptive observations about contemporary Chinese culture, having lived in Taiwan for awhile. His Chinese accent isn't bad for a Westerner, either.
Date published: 2014-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great series A very thorough and interesting course. This is a very hard subject to find good information on, and I'm pleased with what I learned.
Date published: 2014-10-26
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