Past Meetup

The Art of Living: What Can We Learn From Shakespeare's Hamlet?

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Who shall I be? How do I become? What highest value(s) ought I aspire toward? What is the end and aim of life? The Art of Living refers to the project and the problem of our lives as characterized by these fundamental questions.

This month's discussion will explore authenticity, defiance and right action in Shakespeare's Hamlet and in our lives. What does Hamlet say about these values? To what highest value(s) does Hamlet urge us to aspire? What does Shakespeare think the end and aim of our lives ought to be? What can we learn from Hamlet about addressing the problem and the project of our lives? What can Hamlet teach us about who to be and how to become? For you personally, what is the importance of authenticity, defiance, and right action in your life? How do these values fit in your art of living?

The plan for the discussion is to follow the Stanford lectures on the play, so it is recommended that you watch these three 50 minute videos:

• Your Worm is the only Emperor for Diet by Joshua Landy (

• Hamlet: Knight of Resignation by Kenneth Taylor (

• For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba that he should Weep for her?...The Play’s the Thing by L. Lanier Anderson (

In addition to the lectures, the course includes a Roundtable Discussion ( with the professors interacting with the class which you may find helpful. I found reading the text to be very helpful. There are many, many options for reading, listening to, and watching Hamlet. Wikipedia has several options ( including the Gutenberg eText for Hamlet ( Librivox ( has three audio readings of the play: first (, second (, and third ( There are at least four films of Hamlet that can be watched on-line: PBS "Great Performances" (2009) (, 1990 film with Mel Gibson (, 1996 version (the only unabridged film) (, 1948 version with Lawrence Olivier (

This is the second discussion in a series inspired by an accessible, exquisite, free on-line course The Art of Living ( ), three Stanford professors discuss five great works to explore how philosophy and literature can help us practice the art of living. The lecturers are Kenneth Taylor, Joshua Landy, and R. Lanier Anderson and the works are Plato's "Symposium", Shakespeare's "Hamlet", Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling", Nietzsche's "The Gay Science", and Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon". The course video lectures will guide our exploration of "The Art of Living" in a multidimensional way. For an overview of our topic, please watch the 50 minute video Introduction to The Art of Living (

These are links to the other meetups in The Art of Living series:

1. The Art of Living: Love and Reason in Plato's Symposium (

2. The Art of Living: Authenticity, Defiance and Right Action in Hamlet

3. The Art of Living: Faith in Kierkegaard (

4. The Art of Living: Art, Science, Uniqueness and Affirmation in Nietzsche (

5. The Art of Living: Self and Community in "Song of Solomon" (

6. The Art of Living: Engaging the Project of our Lives (