Asian Philosophy (0122-340-01)

Spring 2001

Final Paper Topics (up to 8-10 pages): Due Thursday, May 17th, 3pm.

Professor Yoko Arisaka
Office: CA D8D (enter across from Theology Dept)
Office Phone: 422-6424

Select ONE question from the following (For 1, please specify a, b, OR c).

The readings that are especially relevant are italicized.

1. Japanese Philosophy (theory-related; could also include what we've covered in the Buddhism section):  Reader Selections 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29

a.  Explain Nishida’s concept of “pure experience.”  In what way is it similar to the Buddhist conception of “emptiness/sunyata”?  In what way is “thought” a part of pure experience?  How is pure experience “individuated?”  Is there an inherent tension in his theory regarding the individuation of pure experience?

b.   In what way is Nishida’s theory of pure experience a rejection of the “subject-object” dichotomy?  Compare or contrast his position to one of the Western philosopher of your choice (e.g., the phenomenologists such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, are obvious comparison candidates.  Descartes for contrast.)

c.   (Reader 23) What is Watsuji’s theory of the “human being?” (“ningen”)  In what way is this a relational ethical theory comparable to either Confucian ethics or the feminist “ethics of care?”  Explain.

2.  Japanese Philosophy (and zen's) reaction to the West, including the problem of nationalism and imperialism during the Pacific War: 18, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33

What are some of the claims made by Japanese philosophers during 1930s and 40s regarding their position vis-à-vis Western philosophy?  In what way is it “nationalistic?”  According to your reading, is Nishida’s philosophy “complicit” with Japanese imperialism?  If so, in what way?  If not, in what way?  Defend your reading.

3.  Confucianism and Human Rights:  35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41

Clarify in what way Confucianism and the so-called “Western” notion of human rights are compatible or not compatible.  Explain both positions, and take a side and defend your claims.

4.  Contemporary Buddhist Discussions ("Socially Engaged Buddhism"): 13, 43, 44, 45, 46

In what way is the Buddhist notions of “Interdependent Co-Arising,” “Compassion,” “Detachment,” “Emptiness,” and “Four Noble Truths” are used in “Socially Engaged Buddhist” movements?  In what way are they compatible with the idea of “non-attachment?”  (Aren’t they “attached” to their cause??)

5.  If you'd like to do something further on Taoism, Indian Philosophy, or something on Korea, please let me know--I have resources that I can share with you.

Feel free to use outside sources, but that is not required.  If you need more focus in terms of your reading, let me know and I can point you to some specific articles and passages and give you ideas.

Back to my main page.