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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.