Saturday lecture and forum

We'll be watching and discussing the meaning of life, one 30-minute lecture at a time

Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions
Teachco course number 4320
Philosophy & Intellectual History
Professor Jay L. Garfield, Smith College
36 Lectures, November[masked] - July 2014

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  • a.m.

    I just wanted to add a couple of post-discussion thoughts to the mix. I wasn't expecting to hear about Tolstoy, and it doesn't quite flow after thinking about Hume, Kant and Mill. But after thinking about the lecture, I felt a little dissatisfied that the prof would choose to focus a whole lecture solely on this story. As some folks may have alluded, this work voices a somewhat maudlin and sentimental idea of life and death. (Tolstoy was only forty years old when this monumental work was published.) Dostoevsky and Anne Rice were mentioned as other writers who artfully wrote about death as a backdrop to the meaning of life. The prof's lecture could have been much stronger, though, had he looked at Henrik Ibsen, the brilliant Norwegian playwright who was born the same year as Tolstoy (1828). Ibsen's play, Hedda Gabler, (published in 1890) blew me away the first time I read it. That is a work that gives a much better and wholly unsentimental look at the meaning of life.

    May 24, 2014

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