Chinese philosophy talk to start off First Wednesdays series at First Congregational Church


MANCHESTER >> To kick off the Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series, co-authors of "The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life" will give a talk on applying Chinese philosophy to everyday thinking.

Michael Puett teaches Chinese history at Harvard University and Christine Gross-Loh is a journalist and author who graduated from Harvard with a PhD in East Asian history. Gross-Loh and Puett will teach people how to stop thinking about things in either black or white and make it relevant to current events, such as politics.

"I was drawn because I think it's very interesting to see something counterintuitive telling people different ways to live a good life," Gross-Loh said. "We talk about Chinese philosophy in a way that makes people realize it's really relevant today. Actually, the Chinese philosophy that we discuss in the book is concerned with issues people face today; how to live a good life and create a better world."

The philosophy revolves around a broadened perspective, making small behavioral changes and acknowledging that a change doesn't have to be dramatic, Gross-Loh explained.

"It changes your assumptions. You become aware of assumptions you didn't realize you were holding. It's common sensical," she said. "Power and strength dominates. What really distinguishes this philosophy is that it's very much based on classical mundane every day — it's based on incremental changes."

Gross-Loh heard about the course Puett was teaching after she graduated and decided to write about it for The Atlantic.

"The Path" was released in April and has since been distributed to publishers in 25 countries.

"This philosophy resonated with me because of what I always felt is important — seeing something from as many perspectives as possible, seeing something in all its complexities, not seeing it as easy to understand," she said. "Coming from being raised in a multicultural household, I try to help [people] understand there's so many ways to interact and so many ways to see each other and see the world."

Gross-Loh's work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. Other work includes "Parenting without Borders: What Parents around the World Can Teach Us."

Puett is the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard, as well as the recipient of a Harvard College Professorship of Excellence in undergraduate teaching. Other publications include "The Ambivalence of Creation: Debates Concerning Innovation and Artifice in Early China and To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China," and "Ritual and its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity" as a co-author.

Gross-Loh and Puett will visit the First Congregational Church on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., hosted by Manchester Community Library. All First Wednesday events are free and open to the public.

Other events in the series are:

• Nov. 2 Michael Arnowitt:Chopin's Preludes

• Dec. 7 Ed McMahon: Where Am I? The Power of Uniqueness

• Jan. 4 Katherine Paterson: Reading for the Life of the World

• Feb. 1 Susan Ackerman: All About Eve

• March 1 Kirsten Hoving: The Impressionists: Painters of Modern Life

• April 5 Mark Stoler: Churchill and Roosevelt: The Personal Element in Their Partnership

• May 3 David Blight: "Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory"

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— Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.


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