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WORLDLY WISDOM: Great Books and the Meanings of Life

            Excerpts                                       Other Publications

Worldly Wisdom leads readers through some fifty classic works of literature, philosophy, and political thought from Homer and Confucius to Jean-Paul Sartre and Gabriel García Márquez to draw out ideas valuable for understanding human life in this world and for living that life well. Engagingly written for anyone who thinks about such ideas, as well as for anyone curious to know what great authors have thought about them, Worldly Wisdom offers both an inviting liberal education and a usefully humanistic self-help book.

Frederic C. Beil, Publisher
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CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS   xi

PREFACE: The Humanistic Meanings of Life  vi

I. HUMAN NATURE, ETHICS, AND THE GOOD LIFE
       1. The Tragic Sense of Life and the Dawn of Humanism     3
                   Homer: The Iliad
       2. Control Yourself     23
                    Hinduism: Bhagavad-Gita
                    Buddhism: Dhammapada
       3. What Do You Know? How Do You Know It? Why Should You Care?     41
                    Plato: Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Phaedo
       4. Living the Good Life     61
                    Aristotle: Ethics
       5. The Moral Landscape of Hell    78
                    Dante Alighieri: The Divine Comedy: The Inferno
       6. Growing Up Naturally     100
                    Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Emile
       7. Enough? Never!  121
                    Johann von Goethe: Faust
       8. From the Maggot Man to the Superman  136
                    Friedrich Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morals
       9. Condemned to Be Free
                    Fyodor Dostoevsky: “The Grand Inquisitor”
                   Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialism

II. LIVING IN THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL WORLD
      10. Find the Right Way, Do the Right Thing     173
                   Confucianism: The Analects; The Great Learning;
                                            The Doctrine of the Mean
                   Taoism: Tao te Ching; Chuang Tzu
     
11. How to Succeed in the Business of Life    191
                   Niccoló Machiavelli: The Prince
      
12. So It Seems     205
                   William Shakespeare: Hamlet; Othello; King Lear
                   Moliére: The Misanthrope
      
13. The Price of Mis-Education      226
                   Voltaire: Candide
                   Charles Dickens: Hard Times
     
14. Democracy as a Way of Life    249
                   James Madison: Federalist Paper #10
                   Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America
                   John Stuart Mill: On Liberty
     
15. Through a Class Darkly     280
                   Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: The Communist Manifesto
     
16. We Shall Overcome     293
                   Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
                   Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”
                   Elie Wiesel: Night
     
17. The Psychology of Everyday Life     313
                   Sigmund Freud: Civilization and Its Discontents
     
18. It’s Party Time: The Ethics of Civility     328
                   Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway

III. THE PROMISES AND PERILS OF AESTHETICS, IMAGINATION, ROMANCE
      19. The Morality and Immorality of Art     345
                   Plato: Republic
                   Aristotle: Politics; Poetics
                     Leo Tolstoy: What Is Art?
     
20. All Stories Are True     371
                   Islamic Storytelling: The Arabian Nights
                  Ghanaian Folklore: “Why We Tell Stories About Spider”
      21. How Beautiful, How Sad     385
                   Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji
     
22. The Uses of Idealism      405
                   Miguel de Cervantes: The Adventures of Don Quixote
     
23. The Gifts of Imagination     426
                   William Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Ballads; The Prelude
                   Percy Bysshe Shelley: “A Defense of Poetry”
      24. Fantasies of Seduction and the Seductions of Fantasy    446
                   Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary
     
25. Art for Life’s Sake     459
                   Théophile Gautier: Preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin
                   Walter Pater: Conclusion to The Renaissance
                   Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
                   Thomas Mann: “Death in Venice”
      26. Of Love and Marriage, Passion and Aging     480
                   Gabriel García Márquez: Love in the Time of the Cholera

NOTES     501

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY     523

INDEX     529

____________________

EXCERPTS

Preface

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

Chapter 11

Chapter 24

Chapter 26

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