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 78.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, But Too Broad This is a good course. The professor is smart and prepared and gives a good general treatment of Eastern thought over the centuries. If you're after such a very broad survey of this really important content, I would gladly recommend the course to you. It did not, however, reach the highest bar for me, and I'll explain why. One expects a course on Eastern thought to cover deeply the sages who wrote the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Buddha, Confucius, Laozi, and Zarathrustra. One would also want to learn more about Mahavira, the author(s) of the Bhagavad Gita, Mencius, Sunzi, Shankara, and Zhu Xi. Now, after these great minds, a student would recognize the place of, and want to learn about, other great minds, especially those who lived and made a difference in the various and diverse places of the East and those who lived in more recent times. But here's the main problem: how many more major thinkers can a teacher adequately cover in a 36 lecture course before the teaching becomes skimming? Well - in my view - Professor Hardy made the decision to do way too much. He wanted to teach about at least two major "great minds" in each lecture; he wanted to cover the spectrum from ancient to modern; and he wanted to touch upon political, literary, and social leaders as well as those who were religious and philosophical. Further, he needed to devote enough time to biography and history to give the students enough sense of the people he was teaching. That took up needed time and attention as well. In the end, in my view, we got too many doses of too many figures, but way too little of any one of them. I am left with the feeling of a good experience but one without a deep enough penetration of learning for much to endure. Generally, as a long time customer of the Great Courses, I would conclude by saying, at least for myself, I have come to reserve the highest ratings for those courses in which the teacher goes deep. Even if it means the sacrifice of breadth of coverage, I admire professors who make the choice, perhaps sacrificially, to "leave out" and thereby do far more with what's consciously "left in."
Date published: 2013-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but too short. This 36 lecture, single professor course is woefully inadequate for the task at hand. It shows a marked cultural bias by the Teaching Company in trying to summarize the entire eastern intellectual tradition in 18 hours taught by a single professor, while allowing 42 hour s and eleven professors for the equivalent western tradition. It is also worth noting that this is the only course available on most of the thinkers covered. By contrast western thinkers often appear in 3 or 4 courses. Professor Hardy does a good job showing how important his subject is and manages to give us some feel for the subject. He is clearly a superstar professor and I hope that the Teaching Company will employ him for more courses.
Date published: 2013-04-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too Much to Cover in 36 Lectures The course is good, but the inclusion of so many thinkers in the space of 36 lectures makes the lectures somewhat crowded and sketchy . I found myself wanting professor Hardy to spend more time with the ideas of the individual founders and contributors to a school of thought rather than the course he actually took of running off a litany of names with little to say about what made their ideas great. Also, as mentioned by others, the course often took on more of an historical slant than a philosophical one. Far more history than is necessary to place the philosophy in context is present here, and several times I felt myself growing impatient as the minutes ticked by with very little time left over to discuss the actual contributions of the philosophers being considered. Particularly unforgivable is the absence of a glossary. A hard and fast reference guide to the plethora of new names and concepts would have helped my study of these eastern thinkers immensely and its omission detracted considerably from my overall enjoyment of the course. Professor Hardy is a very knowledgeable lecturer and is undoubtedly a very good choice to give this course. I would like to see him try again with these recommendations: expand the course to 48 lectures; focus on fewer philosophers; focus more on the philosophical contributions of the philosophers covered, and include a bit less on the historical events surrounding them. Oh, and please include a glossary!
Date published: 2013-04-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Overwhelming but rewarding DVD review. ©2011. Guidebook 160 pages. **Overall Rating** I really wanted to like this course and I tried hard to get as much out of it as I could, but due to the scope/breadth of information presented at breakneck speed, I feel like I am unable to absorb much of the content. To be honest, whenever Professor Hardy commented (often actually), “Remember X (insert historical figure or school of thought) from Lecture #?” I’d say to myself, “Nope!” with a slight dejection. And when he followed with a brief recap, I’d always say, “Oh, yea, now I remember.” I think there are about 70 Great Minds (give or take) introduced throughout, but they’re mostly given cursory introductions. Some I knew, but most significant thinkers were unknown. Ideas and concepts weren’t beyond grasp, but required additional readings on my part. Maybe there should have been 48 lectures to adequately cover all of these thinkers and concepts adequately. **Course Content** Considering course content, what you get is a nice balance of Great Minds in the area of religion, politics, science, literature, and society. It spans millennia, and of course there’s a good deal of armchair traveling. But organizing all this material into a cohesive course is a daunting task. I was overwhelmed by the scope of the content: e.g. lists of schools of thought, unfamiliar names, places and terminology, etc. I’m just glad there was no final test. Sure, the hotel analogy was helpful to compartmentalize shifting paradigms over time. **Presentation** In the first half of the course, Professor Hardy is a bit uncomfortable while getting used to being in front of the camera; but he redeems himself nicely the second half with much more confidence. It seemed to me there was a lot of editing in the final product, where extra footage was eventually left on the cutting room floor. Overall I did like the presentation style though. He rarely seems to be reading from a teleprompter; the high number of false starts and hesitations ultimately worked in his favor, showing he was giving a thoughtful, honest, natural, spontaneous classroom-like experience. I think it’s safe to say his presentation demonstrates enthusiasm and a passion for his area of expertise. **Value** The world is getting smaller every day, so I think it’s critical in this day and age to have a grasp of traditional cultures form the East: its influential thinkers, religious foundations, and its social and political history. Too much has been left out of our early education curriculum. And I’d say that not many of us have had a lot of exposure to Eastern culture and thought on a regular basis. In this respect, there’s much to value here. It’s certainly a fine way to start that journey toward being globally aware and knowledgeable. For me, I’m better able to recognize and respect Eastern intellectual contributions. But on a first viewing, I’m hesitant to recommend this as a high value. In my case, it was just a little too much presented too quickly. Perhaps with additional readings from the bibliography and a second viewing, this will have greater value for me. Audio would be adequate for most customers. The first half didn't offer much in the way of visuals like the 2nd half did. Much of the course focused on China/India, but I found the limited Japan/Korea lectures to be the most captivating. This would make for a great follow-up course.
Date published: 2013-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real "Great Course" For a subject so extensive this course is an amazing compendium of eastern philosophy presented by a professor who not only knows the subject but has an amazing ability to communicate it clearly and objectively. Do not miss..
Date published: 2013-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An awesome course! The single draw back to this course is that it covers so many people and does not have time really focus on any one person or period. This being said I loved it! I know a little bit about some of the big Chinese philosophers, but the breadth of and complexity of all the philosophies was amazing. The professor did a great job in covering the material and keeping the pace. I really hope the Teaching Company can get him back to do series on individual branches of Eastern Philosophy. If you've wondered what is up with Eastern Philosophies, get this course! Its well with the money!
Date published: 2013-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic lectures! The subject matter is, of course, interesting for a "westerner" who knows nothing about Eastern thought or culture. But, I must say, that what Professor Hardy brings to this course is what sets it apart. I have listened to several lectures across a variety of disciplines, and this is one of the very best.
Date published: 2013-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good intro to Eastern thought Three hotels are having conventions: the China Hotel, the Japan Hotel and the Korea hotel. This is the analogy used by Professor Hardy to elucidate the various streams of thought eminating from the East. For a long time no convention goer left his or her respective hotel. But after a while some attendees would visit one of the other hotels and thought would be transmitted from one to the other. i liked this analogy and it helped explain the streams of thought in the Eastern world. I am new to this inquiry having only a cursory knowledge of the usual suspects -- Confucious, the Buddha, Lao Tzu and this course gave me a better insight into the Eastern philosophies and religions. I can't say I remembered all of the attendees of the conventions as the names as so new to me, but I am sure that as I read and learn more they will become familiar. So I considered this course as a good introduction to Eastern thought and will be more prepared toi delve deeper.
Date published: 2012-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Needs work but a wonderful start Needs more experts in each area of study. Professor needs to disassociate his religious views from what he is teaching. Everyone in the west can benefit from this course period. Mencius's mother moved three times! What would you do to educate your children!
Date published: 2012-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent--if only there was more! I purchased the audio format of this course and listened to it shortly after completing the Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition course, and I have greatly enjoyed both. With a strong undergraduate background in philosophy and intellectual history, both courses served as excellent refreshers in some cases, and fascinating introductions to new thinkers and ideas in others. Given the relative neglect of non-Euro-American intellectual history in the West, this course was a broad and valuable introduction to the philosophical traditions of India, China, and Japan (and some of their neighbors). The professor displays an impressively wide scope of expertise, and is consistently engaging and clear in his presentation. My only complaint is that this course wasn't longer--there are certainly other interesting and insightful thinkers that could be included if this course, like its Western predecessor course, is adjusted over future editions!
Date published: 2012-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thinking Differently Our Western civilization has so much to offer, but, in some ways, mainly spiritual, could be thought of as blinkered. This course gently removes those blinkers, and ushers us into what I regard as a parallel spiritualism -- not better than ours, just differently focused. This course is a Winner!
Date published: 2012-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course Thank you Dr. Hardy for sharing with us such complex deep knowledge in an easy and interesting way
Date published: 2012-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Important content but several weaknesses This is a good course and I would recommend it, but am hard-pressed to give it more than 3.5. By contrast, I was completely taken by TTC's Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition several yrs ago -- lengthier and taught by several professors -- and was hoping to have a similar feeling about the Eastern Intellectual Traditions course, but not so. Nonetheless, the topic is extremely important for Westerners, as we have such a surface acquaintance with the thousands of years of culture, metaphysics, epistemology & ontology of the East. In this sense, part of my goal was met, particularly in regard to China, Japan & Korea. Prof Hardy does a reasonable job of presenting over 70 "great minds," many of whom are scarcely known by most Westerners. This survey is a huge undertaking, covering thousands of years, and thus the listener should be prepared for introductions vs. in-depth treatment, hopefully stimulating interest in further reading. (I came away with a list of 4 or 5 books he recommends on several of the Chinese & Islamic thinkers.) Disappointing is the absence of a glossary of terms or even a summary list of names, as in the Western counterpart course. The guidebook is short, sparse & weak, compared to the above-mentioned Western course. This may be TTC's issue & not Hardy's. Frankly the topic is too large for one presenter, and could have been enriched by having several professors, including those from India, China & Japan. Hardy is most knowledgeable about China (his background confirms this), and clearly his knowledge runs deep in this area. In contrast, I was very surprised to hear him mis-pronounce some terms pertaining to India & Hindu sources. I am fairly familiar with the Vedic literature, and I winced to hear him butcher terms like Upanishads. I have heard such terms/names spoken aloud for years. How could an Eastern expert misfire with the language, and how could TTC let this slide without review? This decreased the value of the course for me. Hardy is more familiar with the Chinese languages (and I am not). In a couple instances, he chuckles when discussing certain Eastern beliefs or practices, as if he finds them quaint. This is a bit off-putting. In general, he takes a descriptive approach, vs. one of really trying to suspend his own belief system & "get inside" another perspective. I don't believe he "gets" the Bhagavad Gita; I don't believe he understands Ghandi. Again by contrast, his treatment of Chinese figures like Siam Qian is much more in-depth -- he did his doctoral research on this man, reflecting, I'm sure, an immersion & identification with him -- experientially. It would have been much more effective to have an Indian professor present the Upanishads; and an academic with Buddhist roots present the Buddhist schools. However, I'm glad I persisted & completed the course -- it did get better in the later lectures. I hope TTC continues its focus on the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.
Date published: 2012-09-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Fair I listened only to the first 3 lectures, and then returned, so my assessment is based on a limited sample. These lectures seemed a solid first draft but in need of revision. They felt somewhat superficial in their efforts to link the ideas to the ostensible concerns of its audience; and lacked the packed subtlety and substance of Jay Garfield's course.
Date published: 2012-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Revelation Prof. Hardy's course is a revelation. The instruction is well presented, interesting, and very insightful. Most important, it is exceptionally informative. Anyone interested in the Eastern intellectual and religious tradition (or traditions) need look no farther.
Date published: 2012-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Course Yet This is outstanding. Well-organized, comprehensive and completely accessible for a beginner. Best of all, the professor's manner is engaging, pleasant and natural, and he is obviously very, very knowledgeable. I particularly liked the anecdotes he uses to illustrate applications to today's world. I'd love to see more from Dr. Hardy, exploring some of these topics in more detail.
Date published: 2012-04-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from take Garfield's Meaning of Life course instead Disappointed. Too many philosophers covered too superficially (it was dizzying) and too many anecdotes. Instead take Garfield's course Meaning of Life that covers both western and eastern philosophy
Date published: 2012-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and Enjoyable Course I looked forward to this course after having studied many Great Courses in western philosophy. The professor's choice of great minds provides a well-rounded presentation of philosophers who profoundly influenced thinking in the east and also in the west. I appreciated that the professor included women authors and philosophers. His discussion about Korea was especially enlightening to me because the information presented is not commonly encountered. Recalling my travels to many asian nations, the information presented in this course tied together many concepts that I encountered and I wish that the course was available before I set out on my travels. Professor Hardy does a wonderful job to encourage participants to seek out more information and to read important texts discussed in the course. There is a wealth of information presented and I intend to go back and listen to a number of sections again now that I better understand how the ideas I have learned about are related to one another. Professor Hardy's presentation style is straightforward and plainly understood. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2011-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The hotel convention next door DVD review. GREAT MINDS OF THE EASTERN INTELLECTUAL TRADITION is an entertaining overview of 70 Asian thinkers all of whom had a hand in the cultural evolution of India, China and Japan, with a few side trips into Korea and Tibet. While some of them would qualify as philosophers, a more accurate description would be “opinion leaders who influenced the leisured elites of their time”. The overwhelming majority of Asians were illiterate workhorses, married at 14 and dead by 40, too crushed by work and taxes to think beyond the next meal. All this gradually changed with the spread of European colonialism. Modern opinion leaders like Ghandi and Mao used the media to appeal directly to the masses using popular vernacular. By Western (or even Aristotle’s) standards, much of their speculation appears disorganized, even a bit childlike. The categories of philosophy, art, science and religion, so distinct for us today, where part of a single whole. These speculations were moreover closely bound to non-philosophical pursuits such as yoga/meditation to control the subconscious in India, and rituals that stabilized social institutions (everything from the family to the state) in China. This course definitely encourages us to loosen our tendency to categorize. Dr. Hardy very wisely introduces some order by creating an analogy of three “hotel conventions”. The INDIA HOTEL influenced the China Hotel through Buddhism, but it was mostly a one-way conversation. The CHINA HOTEL had a similar one-way relationship with the JAPAN HOTEL. Each hotel convention is an internal conversation, much of which appears incomprehensible to the “importing” hotel next door unless it is properly filtered, translated and adapted for local needs. To describe each tradition would take too much space for a short review such as this. Let me summarize the few aspects that struck me. THOUGHT CONTENT • Dr Hardy does an excellent job of summarizing the main lines of each tradition at several points during the course, and especially at the end. • The core ideas in each tradition — inner-directed in India, social and political in China — were remarkably consistent through thousands of years. So was the tone: pessimistic and concerned with suffering in India, practical and this-worldly in China. • Inevitably each tradition starts with mutually exclusive categories such as Brahman and Atman in India, followed by thinkers who believe these categories are two aspects of the same thing. Then others disagree, etc. etc. Dr Hardy very properly examines these disputes to show that each tradition is not static, but speaking personally, these sterile debates left me indifferent. • TTC clients seeking tips for dealing with Asians on a business level will be disappointed. To use a simple analogy, the New Testament is probably the single most influential body of ideas in the evolution of Western art, religion, ethics and law. But if a Chinese businessperson asked you for a single book that best summarizes “doing business in America”, I doubt that the New Testament would jump to your mind. The same goes for Confucius’ Analects in China or Samurai classics in Japan. Classic texts illustrate sensibilities and moral ideals. Most modern Asians operate their lives under much more down-to-earth and easily-understandable constraints. BIOGRAPHIES • This was the part I most enjoyed in this course. The lives of the Buddha and Lao Zi are shrouded in myth. But many others such as the historian Sima Qian, the novelist Murasaki Shikibu, Hakuin the Zen monk and Al-Biruni the polyvalent Islamic genius, to name a few, really stood out in my mind. I intend to read some of their works later. To sum up, this is a very worthwhile course that provides a general-yet-sophisticated overview of a very large subject. Dr Hardy is also an excellent speaker. AND THEN WHAT? Assuming you like the course and want to know more, the course guidebook offers a good bibliography. But if books don’t float your boat and you want something more modern and concrete about Asia, I would suggest subtitled DVDs of Asian films as an excellent, low-cost source. They allow you to see this course’s ideas in action or occasionally being irrelevant. THE APU TRILOGY (1955-59) is a good start for India. THE ROAD HOME (2000) and DEPARTURES (2008) are also excellent choices for China and Japan respectively. Consult Wikipedia for more suggestions.
Date published: 2011-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and Surprising Audio Download 36 Lectures For me this course fills the vacuum that was created when Daniel N. Robinson completed his "Great Ideas of Philosophy," a Western-based course. Professor Hardy does a fabulous job interweaving the various Easter philosophical traditions: Chinese, Japanese, Indian, with some Korean, Middle Eastern, and more thrown in. He also has excellent pronunciation, so that the Western listener gets an education in how the names are actually pronounced. He has a fine speaking voice and presents in a natural and generally easy-to-follow manner. For example, recognizing that the Western listener may not be able to recall the names of great minds in earlier lectures, when he references them he provides a capsule version of their thought. What I found surprising was the many names I had never before heard. I thought I had some significant awareness of Eastern thought, only to be sent to the woodshed by Prof. Hardy who revels in unveiling about 2 names per lecture. This is just the right amount, giving us almost 60 great minds, about as many as Robinson provides on the Western side. Big thumbs up. And one I will listen to again.
Date published: 2011-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting This course left me absolutely fascinated. I listened to it in the car and it made me want to stay in the car and keep going. Prof. Hardy was a great speaker and the subject matter was wonderful. I will be sad when I have completed the series, but will probably then listen to them all again.
Date published: 2011-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Professor Hardy is a wondeful speaker. He has a very appealing style and covers a lot of rather challenging material with alacrity and wit. It's a terrific course that I would recommend to anyone interested in Asian studies or comparative religion or philosophy; or anyone who wishes to better understand 2 billion of our fellow world citizens. He connects the religious, philosophical, and cultural threads that bind the great Asian cultures together. I hope the teaching company expands their course selection on India and eastern Asia. Great job Professor Hardy! I look forward to your next course.
Date published: 2011-11-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mysterious East I don’t know much about Indian and Japanese culture, so only commenting on the Chinese part. To understand Chinese philosophy is to understand Confucius and Laozi. And Professor Hardy totally misses the mark. When it comes to Confucianism, it’s all about the golden rule (or the silver rule) – Do not do to others the way you do not want others do to you. Don’t be modest for the west, professor, Jesus didn’t take it from Confucius. Jesus said – Do to others the way you want others do to you – the golden rule? They are not the same as all philosophers put them otherwise. Jesus’ is do, do it, spread the good news, be a hero, and change the world. Confucius’ is don’t do it, be a junzi not a hero. What is the right way in ethics when you are not sure about right and wrong? The answer is obvious. However, that is not the western tradition and that is the core difference between the Chinese and western cultural behavior. Why was Confucius not sure? Professor tells the story when his disciple asked Confucius about the afterlife. Confucius’ answer was “Don’t ask.” Why not? Because nobody knows. Of course this comes as a surprise, probably incompetence as knowing the Truth. There you have it, that is the nature of Chinese culture – agnostic in terms of the western belief system – communism or atheism is not native Chinese. Do we really know the Truth? We certainly will ask this same old question for another 2500 years without ever getting the true answer. Where did Confucius ethical morality come from? He visited Laozi, the ultimate philosopher. They talked for 7 years if I am not mistaken by the literature. Confucius told his students that he saw a real dragon after he came home. Nobody has ever understood Laozi – I am not sure if Confucius did or perhaps he did but not followed Laozi’s advice in an obedient way. What is the Way? “The way can be told is not the true Way.” Then what is it? It’s the way all things run and change, and the change of the Way itself. It’s constantly changing as we speak therefore in no way you can describe it correctly, because the moment you say it and it has already changed away. Using a modern term, it’s the law of the nature. Is the law of the nature changing? Yes, you just cannot see it. Can we describe it? Yes, it’s Newton’s law. But it has been replaced by the theory of relativity, as will be replaced by the superstring theory perhaps? On the other hand, Laozi clearly specified what the Way is. In short, it is - The weak defeats the strong. He used many reality examples as described in the lecture, but these examples are not about nature because the opposite – The strong dominates the week - is overwhelming. What is that? It’s the rule of the jungle – winner takes all. However, Laozi insisted that is not the Way. With the Way, it gives birth to De – translated as “power” was an amateur mistake – not the professor’s fault. De is ethical behavior. Modern Chinese put Dao (the Way) and De together, Daode, simply meaning ethical morality. De is from Dao, of Dao, therefore following Dao, ought be controlled by Dao. Dao (the Way), not some supreme being, is the source of Chinese ethical morality. Therefore, no naturalistic fallacy exists in the Chinese ethical thinking. No ought from is? Think again. Daodejing is the book of ethical morality, not a puzzle, as puzzling as Wuwei, nonaction. When Laozi says nonaction (more precisely, no doing, don’t do it.) he means it. It’s nothing like doing it naturally or doing whatever. However, Laozi was talking about moral behavior (not trivial daily activities). If you are not sure about right and wrong, what is the best action morally correct or will do no harm to others? Nothing. Do nothing – hard to understand, isn’t? That is the essence of Daoism. Moral perfection. However it’s not adopted by Confucianism. He (they) later took the middle way – do it but do it with caution, like Socrates' moderation. It’s not easy. It’s hard, because human being are emotional, sentimental, impulsive, loving, companionate and stupid as we have seen ourselves in history. Few, if none of, Chinese scholars in history fully or truly have ever understood Laozi. Without understanding Laozi, Chinese culture remains as a mystery. Laozi also said – Do nothing and everything can be achieved. Now that really gets you cooking. Does it make any sense? Yes, if you figure out what the ultimate purpose of Laozi’s Wuwei – mankind live in isolation in ignorance in eternal peace. I appreciate the effort and enthusiasm of trying to understand the east by Professor Hardy and all the buyers of this course.
Date published: 2011-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Addition to Catalog One of my favorite TC courses so far, fills a gap in overall intellectual history, and is a useful complement to other Asian history and philosophy courses. I loved Professor Hardy's innovative "convention hotel" metaphor which demonstrated the connections among aspects and flavors of Asian thought and religion. His enthusiasm is sparkling, and I have learned so many new things about Asian culture, history, art and politics. Truly a "Great Course"!
Date published: 2011-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding course This is one of the best courses I have ordered from the Teaching Company and it deserves a five star rating. The lecturer has a superb background and insight of this subject and delivers the material eloquently. The material is so vast and requires so many names that it can be overwhelming the first around unless one has extensive knowledge of the subject matter. The course has to be watched more than once and I’m looking forward to doing so. It would be nice if the Teaching Company could develop a whole series of courses on this subject matter. Professor Hardy would be certainly one of the prime contributors. One minor point: especially a course on eastern traditions should use the BCE and CE notation. It just seems insensitive to use BC and AD. Apart of the sensitivity issue toward other religious traditions, another reason to use the Common Era notation is that it seems strange to list Christ’s birth 4 years before his birth as is done in this course on page 122 of the lecture notes.
Date published: 2011-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating as History;Disappointing as Philosophy This is a very worthwhile course to take. Perhaps most importantly (unless this is your native culture) it opens our mostly Western minds to very different ways of thinking and living in the world. Also crucial, it provides a broad, although necessarily shallow, overview of a monumental segment of human history that has been neglected in Western education literally for millenia. And Professor Hardy is wonderful. You can hear the smile and warmth in his voice. (I took the CD version.) He is enormously knowledgeable in this area, very well organized, and extremely articulate - a pleasure to listen to. For me, however, there were two major problems. First, the choice to structure the course around great minds, instead of great ideas, was - in my sincerely humble opinion - a great mistake. This resulted in the flow of intellectual history being chopped into parts corresponding to individual lives, rather than presented as a coherent - or, as the case may be, incoherent - narrative to which individuals made their contributions. My primary interest is in the thinking and history, not in the biographies of the 70-plus individuals presented, most of whom I never heard of, and - great minds though they may be - am never likely to hear of again. This leads to my second major criticism - this course provids little evidence, for the majority of thinkers, that their minds were anywhere close to great. Original, imaginative, influential, prolific, passionate - yes. Great in the sense of deep, important, and enlightening insight into the human condition - no. This may well be a consequence of trying to cover too much in too little time. But the ideas presented ranged from the banal - people suffer; one should be compassionate; morality is a good thing - to the fanciful (to be polite) - I and the universe are one; reality is an illusion (whatever that may mean, which was never discussed); plants have souls. So - I do recommend this course for any desiring a broad overview of the intellectual history of an enormously important part of human culture with which most Westerners are, very regrettably, unfamiliar. I cannot recommend it as a source of insight and wisdom. As presented, I simply did not find these here.
Date published: 2011-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Made me realize so much that I didn't know This course will change the way you think about the world--simple as that. Did you know that the number 0 was a Buddhist influenced concept? According to some influential historians, the world's three most important inventions all came from China (I'll let you discover these for yourself if you take the course). Other issues such as : Why do Japanese businessmen famously take forever to make decisions as a group? Why did Buddhism start in India, but have very little trace left today? Who is Sun Zi, and where did he get those ideas to make the famous Art of War studied today even in US military schools? What is Hinduism, and is it one religion or a collection of religions? What is the origin of perhaps the greatest text from Indian culture? Was Tibet a peaceful country and what are the practices of Tibetan Buddhism? How and why do both China and Taiwan revere an intriguing person named Sun Yat-Sen, and who was he and what did he do? And so on. There are so many important details packed into this one course. Also, so many choice quotes and sayings from brilliant minds who thought about the same problems of life and death as many people today think about. A whole world of concepts, philosophies and beliefs. And that brings me to my point: Professor Hardy has poured through all the famous texts, so I didn't have to. I really appreciated his wide ranging knowledge of the subject matter here. Some have pointed out that this course leaves out so and so. The professor addresses this by saying he knows this, but he had to make the choice. In conclusion, this course is excellent. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Date published: 2011-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Minds of Eastern Intellectual Tradition I have been a faithful student of the Teaching Company for Years and this is by FAR the Best Course I ever had the pleasure of learning. Dr. Hardy is an amazing teacher, and person and conveys extremely difficult subjectswith ease, alacrity not encountered before. He took a vast and extremely difficult subject, organized it with us in mind, and presented it with an incredible professionalism and humor. I couldn't wait to change CDs and move on to the next. I am going through it for the third time. Wow, he is an unique intellectual who can speak to the even the lay person and convey complex concepts. He captures the essence of the mysterious side of 2/3 of the world in just a few lectures. My only regret is that there are not more lectures by him. I would buy every single one. I have highly rec. him to many of my friends, Asian and American alike. Keep up the fantastic work and please invite Dr. Hardy back for more! I would be honored to meet him and regret that I don't live in NC to audit his courses. I have been to Cornell, UVa. Columbia, UPenn, and none of my professors came close. Also I practice acupuncture in my Neurology practice and will use some of his explainations to elucidate the idea of "Energy and Balance" to my patients. I use it in my 20 yrs of Karate and know its power but it is hard to explain. Great Job!!
Date published: 2011-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A missing piece in the puzzle of the great minds Just finished listening to Professor Hardy’s Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition, it is like returning home after a great vacation abroad. It was a trip I was looking for after listening to Great Courses on more familiar topics from our Western tradition. Professor Hardy manages to bring the listener closer to the views, ideas and traditions of the East; his enthusiasm is contagious, motivating you to read/learn more on the subject
Date published: 2011-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Buy this course I'm only midway through the lectures but I wanted to respond to two of the reviewers because of the newness of the course. To the first, the Vedas ARE covered. So I'm not sure on what he bases his gripe about "something missing." The third reviewer complains about Hardy's grammar a bit, and I want to add that Hardy is fluent in Chinese, and immersion in any language can make the ear insensitive to irregularities, even in one's own mother tongue. The adrenaline of public speaking can also cause it. And most anyone will happily trade a few errors in hours of lecturing for the joy of hearing Hardy drop effortlessly into Chinese to quote a text. More importantly, Hardy is sensitive to the line between learning for its own sake and learning that can be incorporated into one's life and world view. He weaves his narratives wonderfully with anecdotes, folklore, philosophy and the takeaway. He doesn't get bogged down in background as Johnson does in the Greco-Roman Moralists. He isn't bombastic as Robinson can be in Great Ideas of Philosophy. He doesn't lead us into an esoteric wilderness as Cahoone can in his excellent Modern Intellectual tradition. His teaching converges at the point of wisdom and pleasure, and I have finished many lectures amazed by the great gift that this course is.
Date published: 2011-06-26
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