Discourses of the Elders By Sebastian Purcell

  • Narrated by: Gary Tiedemann
  • Length: 6 hrs and 14 mins
  • Release date: 10-24-23

Discourses of the Elders By Sebastian Purcell AudioBook summary

Western philosophers have long claimed that God, if such a being exists, is a personal force capable of reason, and that the path to a good human life is also the path to a happy one. But what if these claims prove false, or at least deeply misleading? The Aztecs of central Mexico had a rich philosophical tradition, recorded in Latin script by Spanish clergymen and passed down for centuries in the native Nahuatl language—one of the earliest transcripts being the Huehuetlatolli, or Discourses of the Elders, compiled by Friar Andres de Olmos circa 1535.

The Discourses consists of short conversations between elders and young people on how to achieve a meaningful and morally sound life. Their core values relied on collective responsibility and group wisdom, not individual thought and action, orienting life around one’s actions in this realm rather than an afterlife, distinctly opposed to Christian beliefs.

Sebastian Purcell’s proficiency in Nahuatl, which his grandmother also spoke in contemporary form, brings to light the Aztec ethical landscape in brilliant clarity. Never before translated into English in its entirety, Discourses of the Elders reflects the wisdom communicated by oral tradition and proves that philosophy can be active, communal, and grounded not in a “pursuit of happiness” but rather the pursuit of a meaningful life.



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