Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: The Path

The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life

The Path
Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh

The aim of this book is to show the reader how Chinese philosophy can make a difference in our lives. It developed out of a popular course the author teaches at Harvard University. It attempts to show that there are other ways of finding balance, fulfillment and meaning in life than only with the Western ideas with which we are accustomed to.

It introduces the reader to various Chinese philosophers and their thinking as well as showing the reader how these ideas can be applied to everyday life. Much of it seems to be focused on the idea that if you transform yourself and your way of thinking and the way you engage with your friends, family colleagues etc., you can change how others relate to you, thereby creating a different environment, ideally one in which you will find more meaning and fulfillment.

While the book had some interesting ideas and while it is intriguing to see that ideas from thousands of years ago may still have relevance for us today, I couldn't help but feel that the philosophers were chosen at random, without a lot of explanation as to why only these thinkers are included but not others. Also, the last chapter seemed to me as if it would have been better as an introduction and overview rather than a summary.

This is probably a good book for those who want to explore what other cultures have to offer and how it might be incorporated into one's own life.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing the advance reader's copy

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