The Path Book Review

Title: The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life
Author: Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh
Genre: Philosophy, Nonfiction
Published: 2016
Pages: 198
Goodreads Rating: 3.72
Rating: 9/10

“How are you living your life on a daily basis?” 

Some college courses can change your life. And Puett’s Classical Chinese Philosophy course at Harvard is said to provide such an experience. In The Path, Puett and Gross-Loh turn Puett’s course into a book where they explain how Chinese philosophy can be applied to everyday life and that it is still applicable in today’s world. Join them on the journey as they explore the good life. 

In the preface of The Path, the authors set the stage for the book and immediately identify modern existentialism as the primary opponent without specifically saying existentialism. 

“Many of us now believe that each of us should be a unique individual who knows himself. We believe we should be authentic, loyal to a truth we now tend to locate not in a higher deity but within ourselves. We aim to live up to the self we were meant to be. But what if these ideas that we believe enhance our lives are actually limiting us?” 

With the purpose of the book laid out in the preface, the reader begins the journey of exploring different ideas about the best way to live as proposed by ancient Chinese philosophers. The primary focus hones in on a constant process of self-cultivation. Some of us accept labels placed on us starting at an early age that become self-fulling prophecies. “These labels drive our behavior and our decisions. As a result, too many of us wake up one day feeling stuck inside a narrow definition of ourselves.” The Path tries to shake you of those labels where you enter a lifelong journey of self-discovery and progression. 

The authors’ writing style is approachable, enlightening, and educational. The book takes on a heavy topic… it is not a light book by any means. The authors go about it in a very non-intimidating way that works for those who are new to philosophy or well established in the subject. An intriguing alternative to existentialism, The Path provides a needed perspective of the good life through ancient philosophy. Especially during this unprecedented time, the topic of this book is essential as we move forward post-pandemic. 

If you are interested in philosophy or if you are wondering where to go with your life, The Path is a great addition to your reading list. Especially if you’re having an existential crisis because of life’s current predicament, you would gain a great perspective by reading this book. 

Published by Caroline

Avid reader, board gamer, yogi, and photographer.

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