We are a culture obsessed with positive thinking. Just look a self help best sellers list and you’ll find “The Secret”, “The Power of Positive Thinking” and others which boast the idea that if you think positively then positive things will manifest themselves in your life. Gurus like Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins have gotten fantastically wealthy off of this message so I guess that it works for them, but how about the rest of us? If you’re like me then you probably have read some of these and even tried to apply them but without much success; life is too troubling, too unpredictable, and too sad sometimes to face it with a dumb grin. That’s why I love this book, “The Antidote,” so much; it is a much more realistic way of thinking that can face the world we live in and still offer some peace.
This book talks about the flip side of positive thinking. It starts with stoic reasoning and shows that what is bad in our life is labeled bad by our own mind and that when studied almost anything could be worse. The book moves on to talk about goal fixation, the ego and the self, and ultimately death. I really enjoyed this book written in the journalistic style of a magazine article. There is a LOT of wisdom packed into this short presentation. I plan on listening to it multiple times to get all of the messages. What I mean by this is that some parts of this book require “active” listening - you really need to consider what the author is saying to understand it. Maybe not the best book to listen to while you’re doing something else, but a definate must read for those who have found self help books to be lacking in some way.
We live in a time where cultures clash. It is no longer suitable to adopt a universal value system and suggest that everyone should follow this. If we try, which system do we choose? This dilemma has led to relativism, which suggests that every ethical/value system is as good as the next. However, this undermines what we know about the world. This course tackles relativism and provides a lot of insight and wisdom.
Lectures in Part 1 (the first 12 lectures) were a little slow for me because they tended to review different philosophical theories from history. I found this section remote and sometimes boring. Lectures in Part 2, however, were much more lively. They focused on what do we do once we know why were are in this situation, i.e., what is our modern approach to pluralism and relativism. I found Part 2 much more practical, thought provoking, and interesting.
The teacher is great and adds a lot of color to the lectures. My only gripe is that he goes from very loud to very soft. On headphones it was a pain to find the right volume setting.
Are you reading this review because of free will or have all the variables that comprise "you" lead you to read this review? Typical scientific reasoning suggests that if you knew all of the variables contributing to an outcome, then the laws of nature could predict the outcome. Why then do we think that we are the exception to this logic? These lectures tackle these types of questions.
The scope of these lectures is too vast to summarize easily. Indeed, sometimes I felt lost amongst all of the different schools of thought. The content of these lectures is approachable but advanced. It brings together many different philosophical ideas. The later lectures were more accessible as they touched on the application of these philosophical ideas to concepts such as crime and punishment, brain function, and quantum mechanics.
This is not a lecture series I would recommend to someone new to philosophy or to someone that has only a passing interest in philosophy. These lectures require careful listening and some thought. I would, however, recommend them to someone that is very interested in philosophy. I enjoyed them.