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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Selections Annotated and Explained by Malaspina Great Books Web Editor Russell McNeil PhD
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius:
Selections Annotated and Explained

Russell McNeil, PhD
Editor, Malaspina Great Books

In 1862 the English literary critic and poet Matthew Arnold described Marcus Aurelius as "the most beautiful figure in history." The Stoicism of Aurelius is grounded in rationality and rests solidly on an ethical approach rooted in nature. Stoicism promises real happiness and joy in this life and a serenity that can never be soured by personal misfortune. This philosophy has universal appeal with practical implications on problems ranging from climate change and terrorism to the personal management of sickness, aging, depression and addiction. I truly believe that the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius has much to offer us now...(Click on book cover for more)

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Name:James McNeill Whistler
Birth Year:1834
Death Year:1903
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James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was an American painter and etcher. He is perhaps best known for his nearly black-and-white full-length portrait of his mother, reading in a rocking chair, titled Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1, but usually referred to as Whistler's Mother. Though American, Whistler lived and worked mainly in Britain and France. His painting The White Girl (1862) caused controversy when exhibited in London and, later, at the Salon des Refus├ęs in Paris. The painting epitomised Whistler's theory that art should essentially be concerned with the beautiful arrangement of colors in harmony, not with the accurate portrayal of the natural world, as recommended by the critic John Ruskin. In 1878 Whistler sued Ruskin for libel after the critic condemned his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, calling the artist a "coxcomb". Whistler won a farthing in nominal damages. The cost of the case bankrupted him. Whistler was friendly with various French artists, illustrating the book Les Chauves-Souris with Antonio de La Gandara. He also knew the the impressionists, notably Edouard Manet, and was also a leading figure in the Aesthetic Movement. He was well known for his biting wit, especially in exchanges with his friend Oscar Wilde. Whistler's belief that art should concentrate on the arrangement of colors has led many critics to see his work as a precursor of abstract art. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on James Abbott McNeill Whistler.]

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This web page is part of a biographical database on Great Ideas. These are living ideas that have shaped, defined and directed world culture for over 2,500 years. By definition the Great Ideas are radical. As such they are sometimes misread, or distorted by popular simplifications. Understanding a Great Idea demands personal engagement. Our selection of Great Ideas is drawn from literature and philosophy, science, art, music, theatre, and cinema. We also include biographies of pivotal historical and religious figures, as well as contributions from women and other historically under-represented minorities. The result is an integrated multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary database built upon the framework of the always controversial Great Books Core List published in 1940 by the late Great Books Pioneer Mortimer Adler (1902-2001). Most of the works on that list are available in the 60 volume Great Books of the Western World.

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