Michael Puett and Chinese Philosophy at Harvard

Confucius

Master Kong (better known as Confucius). Not to be confused with Master Puett.

I just came across this piece in The Atlantic about Professor Michael Puett’s Chinese Philosophy course at Harvard. It’s a great example of how the study of philosophy can change your life.

I would note, however, that the author shortened the quotation attributed to Puett. She has Puett saying “This course will change your life.” He may have said those words as part of a larger paragraph, but he’s not the type of person to say so that directly. What he has said is something more like this (something I have, on occasion, shared with my students as we begin our study of Ancient Chinese Philosophy):

“If you read these texts — if you really read them, and think them through, and take them seriously, you will not be able to look at the world in the same way again. They will change your life.”

That quotation is a bit more Puett’s speed, in no small measure because it places the agency upon the student, and her effort thinking through these complex ideas from Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, and others, as opposed to on the professor.

It’s a great piece! Read it here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/why-are-hundreds-of-harvard-students-studying-ancient-chinese-philosophy/280356/

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