Michael Puett

discusses

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

in conversation with GISH JEN

This event includes a book signing

Date

Apr
6
Wednesday
April 6, 2016
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome MICHAEL PUETT, Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, and bestselling author GISH JEN for a discussion of Puett's book The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life.

About The Path

For the first time an award-winning Harvard professor shares his wildly popular course on classical Chinese philosophy, showing you how these ancient ideas can guide you on the path to a good life today.

Why is a course on ancient Chinese philosophers one of the most popular at Harvard?

It’s because the course challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish. This is why Professor Michael Puett says to his students, “The encounter with these ideas will change your life.” As one of them told his collaborator, author Christine Gross-Loh, “You can open yourself up to possibilities you never imagined were even possible.”

These astonishing teachings emerged two thousand years ago through the work of a succession of Chinese scholars exploring how humans can improve themselves and their society. And what are these counterintuitive ideas? Good relationships come not from being sincere and authentic, but from the rituals we perform within them. Influence comes not from wielding power but from holding back. Excellence comes from what we choose to do, not our natural abilities. A good life emerges not from planning it out, but through training ourselves to respond well to small moments. Transformation comes not from looking within for a true self, but from creating conditions that produce new possibilities.

In other words, The Path upends everything we are told about how to lead a good life. Above all, unlike most books on the subject, its most radical idea is that there is no path to follow in the first place—just a journey we create anew at every moment by seeing and doing things differently.

Sometimes voices from the past can offer possibilities for thinking afresh about the future.

Praise

“This is a book that turns the notion of help—and the self, for that matter—on its head. Puett and Gross-Loh bring seemingly esoteric concepts down to Earth, where we can see them more clearly. The result is a philosophy book grounded in the here and now, and brimming with nuggets of insight. No fortune-cookie this, The Path serves up a buffet of meaty life lessons. I found myself reading and re-reading sections, letting the wisdom steep like a good cup of tea.” —Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss and The Geography of Genius

"The Path will not only change your life--it will change the way you see history and the world. From its wondrously fresh take on  Confucius to its quietly profound read of just what it is the great sages have to say to us, this book exemplifies all that can come of the radical openness of Chinese philosophy. Read it and be transformed." —Gish Jen, author of Tiger Writing and The Love Wife

Gish Jen
Gish Jen

Gish Jen

Gish Jen is the author of four novels, a book of stories, and a previous book of nonfiction, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self. Her honors include the Lannan Literary Award for fiction, the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Fulbright Foundation. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Romana Vysatova

Michael Puett
Michael Puett

Michael Puett

Michael Puett is the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. He is the recipient of a Harvard College Professorship for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Photo Credit: Margaret Lampert

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
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