Asian Philosophy (0122-340-01)

Fall 2002

Professor Yoko Arisaka, Ph.D
Office: Campion D8
Office Hours:  MW 2-3p (or later), T/Th noon-1p.  And by appointment.
Office Phone: 422-6424   (422-6543 for the philosophy dept.)

on Nov 21 we covered Matilal (Indian epistemology).  For the remainder of the class (Nov 26, December 3), we will cover the section on the Self (atman) and Moral Philosophy from the selections from Indian Philosophy in the Reader.  The final paper topic will be given out Tuesday Nov 26 (as well as posted here--will be here after Tues).

Final Paper Topics (Due December 12, 3pm)

First Paper Topic Due Tues Oct 29

Tao Te Ching (various translations)


Course Description:

This course examines both the historical development and contemporary debates of the philosophical traditions of Asia.  The topics include metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical questions raised in Indian, Chinese, Buddhist, and Japanese philosophies.  References will also be made to the larger cultural and political issues that are relevant in these traditions today, including the problem of “westernization” and “modernization” and their impact. The course is divided into the following 5 Sections:

Section  1.  Ethics:  Confucianism:  In this section we examine Confucianism’s fundamental ethical concepts as well as the notion of what it means for humans to have a well-ordered society.  We will analyze the passages from the Analects as well as the writings of Mencius.  We will then examine some developments in Neo-Confucianism.  The conceptual emphasis for this section will be on “society.”
Section 2.  Metaphysics of Nature:  Taoism:  In this section we examine the fundamental metaphysical concepts of Taoism, as well as their cultural implications.  The emphasis will be on the concept of “Nature.”
Section 3.  Metaphysics of the Self:  Buddhism:  In this section we will study the fundamental concepts of Buddhism, from India, China, and Japan, as well as their historical development as the philosophy migrates from India to China to Japan.  The emphasis will be on the concept of the “self.”
Section 4.  Metaphysics and Epistemology:  Indian Philosophy  Indian systems developed somewhat independently of other Asian philosophical systems.  In this section we will examine some of the debates in both classical and contemporary Indian philosophy.
Section 5:  Philosophy and Modernity in Asia Today: In this section we will focus on some contemporary philosophical or philosophically informed cultural writings on the problem of modernization and westernization, from India, China, Korea and Japan.  We will examine the ways in which the concepts studied in the previous Sections are expressed in contemporary theoretical framework, as well as focus on the ways in which the debates engage the West.  In addition, we will examine the broader implications of these philosophies in our contemporary global context: topics include business practices and Confucianism, human rights issues, and Buddhist social activism.

The course is designed for in-depth discussions and reflections about the reading materials.  The emphasis will be on analysis, critical assessment, and evaluation, rather than “accumulating facts.”   So please be prepared to engage yourself with the reading material at a personal level and discuss your ideas with others.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:


1.  Confucius, Analects.
(Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont translation, but if you already have another translation, that would be fine.)
 2.  Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings.  Burton Watson, trans.
3. Confucian Moral Self Cultivation.  Phillip Ivanhoe
*4.  Please purchase a copy of the Tao Te Ching, also known as Lao Tze (Laozi, Lao-Tzu).

There is also a Reader for this course, to be purchased at Philosophy Dept (CA D6).

The reading assignments must be read before the class.

Course Requirements and Grading:

1. First Paper (15%).  After Section 2, there will be a short analysis and evaluation paper (4-5  pages) on Confucianism and Taoism.  This is so that you can see how you are handling the material early on in the course.

2. Mid-semester Paper (30%).   After Section 4, there will be a 7-8 page analysis and evaluation paper on selected topics from the first four Sections of the course.

3. Final Paper.  (35%).  The final paper, 10-12 pages, will also focus on analysis and evaluation.  Possible paper topics will be given out on Week  12.

Note:  It is possible to work toward one big paper at the end, so that the first two papers would be a part of the last, larger paper.  You can do this if you already have a pretty clear idea of what you would like to focus on, earlier in the semester.

4. Participation and Discussion (20%).  Weekly attendance and participation are required.  Each week, there will be assigned “discussion leaders” who will bring in insightful questions which are relevant to the material for the rest of the class to discuss.

Course Schedule and Reading

* Readings are listed in bold.

Week 1 (Aug 27, 29):  Introduction.

? General introduction of the course, including explanations for each of the sections.
? What is an Asian Ethical system like?  How is it different from Western systems?
? Background for Confucianism: Philosophical Foundations of Society

Reading:  Lin Yutang, “On Growing Old Gracefully” and Jane English, “What Do Grown Children Owe Their Parents?” (handout)

Section 1: Ethical Issues in Confucianism

Week 2 (Sept 3, 5):  The Analects

? Film:  Confucianism and Modernity (Tues, Sept 3)
? Analects as well as Ivanhoe.  Concepts of Hsiao and Jen

Week 3 (Sept 10, 12):  Confucianism continued.  Mencius and Xunzi

? Concepts of Li and Tao
? Mencius (Ivanhoe)
? Xunzi (Ivanhoe)

Section 2: Metaphysical Issues in Taoism

Week 4 (Sept 17, 19):  Chuang Tzu

? Introduction to Taoism
? What is “metaphysics?”
? The Taoist conception of Nature
? Guest Demonstration by Scott Phillips on “Qi-gong” practice
? Chuang Tzu

Week 5 (Sept 24, 26):   Chuang Tzu Continued, Lao Tzu

? Chuang Tzu
? Passages from Lao Tzu
? Critique of Confucianism

Section 3: Metaphysical Issues in Buddhism

Week 6 (Oct 1, 3):  Theoretical Background: India and China

? First Paper due Oct 3
? Buddhism in India
? The theory of the “no-self”
? Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism
? Suffering, Compassion, and Enlightenment
? (All from reader)

Week 7 (Oct 8, no class Oct 10):  The Middle Way (Madyamaka)

? Problem of Radical Skepticism
? Concept of sunyata, or “emptiness”
? Practice, Experience, and Reality
? (All from reader)

Week 8 (Oct 15, 17): Ch’an and Zen Buddhism

? Shin Shin Ming (reader)
? Zen and Japanese Culture (reader)

Section 4:  Indian Philosophy

Week 9 (Oct 22, 24):  Epistemological Issues

? Background to Indian Philosophy
? Matilal (reader)

Week 10 (Oct 29, 31):  Metaphysical Issues

? Mohanty (reader)

Section 5: Philosophy and Modernity

Week 11 (Nov 5, 7):  Confucianism and Modernity

? Second Paper due Nov 7
? Human rights and democracy issues in China
(reader articles)

Week 12 (Nov 12, 14):  Japanese Philosophy

? Philosophy of the Kyoto School
? Nishida, Nishitani, Abe, and others (reader)

Week 13 (Nov 19, 21):  Philosophy and Modernity:  Engaging the West in the 20th Century

? Japanese philosophy and the West
? Zen philosophy and Japanese Imperialism:  Critiques
? Postcolonialism and India
? Socially Engaged Buddhism
? Maraldo, Arisaka, Feenberg, and others (reader)

Week 14 (Nov 26):  Above theme continued

Week 15 (Dec 3):  Summary of the Course

Final Paper Due: Tuesday, December 10th, 5pm.

Policy on Attendance, Turning in your papers, etc.

You are expected to attend every class, as participation is weighed heavily.  I will accept valid excuses (medical emergency, or other events which are totally beyond your control).  It is your responsibility to contact me if you must miss class.

Please note that “turning in the paper” means that I receive it; it does NOT mean that you dropped it off.  When in doubt, you must make sure with me that I actually have your material.
I will accept electronic submissions.

There will be some penalty for late papers.  Late papers must be turned in within one week past  the dealine.  No papers will be accepted beyond that date.

You may turn your final in early.  No makeup for the final.

Feel free to talk to me about any concerns you may have about the course.  I am always interested in what you have to say.

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