Cultures of Asia: Religion and Philosophy (0185-605-01)

Cohort 8, Module II:  Winter 2000-2001

Tuesdays 6-10pm

Professor Yoko Arisaka, Ph.D

Office: Campion D8D  (The main door to D8 is across the Theology Dept.  Look for D8D inside to the left.)

Office Hours: Tues 1:00-3:00p at CA D8D, and I can be available at LM Cafeteria at 5pm on Tuesdays before class.

Office Phone: 422-6424   (422-6543 for the philosophy dept.)



Course Description

This course examines both the historical development and current content of the religious and philosophical traditions of Asia, with special emphasis on China, Korea, and Japan.  While the primary focus will be to understand the philosophical concepts in the Asian traditions, for all of the periods and the material covered, we will also pay special attention to the ways in which the concepts and ways of understanding are alive in the culture today.  References will also be made to the Western philosophical traditions and ideas to which the Asian traditions responded, in order to contextualize better the significance of “modernization” and “westernization” which affected Asia over the past centuries.  The course is divided into the following 5 Sections:

Section  1.  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.  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.  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.  Shintoism and Shamanism:  In this section we will examine some of the indigenous religious practices of East Asia, in particular the I-Ching and the divination traditions in China, Japanese shintoism, and Korean shamanist traditions.
Section 5:  Philosophy and Modernity in East Asia Today: In this section we will study some contemporary philosophical or philosophically informed cultural writings from 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 contemporary discussions which have relevance to the previous 4 sections.  In particular, we will examine issues such as contemporary business practices and Confucianism, human rights issues, Japanese philosophy and imperialism, and contemporary Buddhist social activism.

The course is primarily conceptual.  It is designed to follow the First Module on history.  This module is designed specifically for philosophical in-depth discussions and reflections about the reading materials.  The emphasis will be on analysis, critical assessment, evaluation, integration, and synthetic thinking.  So please be prepared to engage yourself with the reading material at a personal level and discuss your ideas with others.


 Additional xerox reading material will be available (Reader).
The reading assignments must be read before the class.

Course Requirements and Grading:

1. Mid-Semester Paper (25%).   After Section 3, there will be a short (4-5 pages) analysis and evaluation paper on selected topics from the first three Sections of the course.  This will be a part of your overall project for the course.  Possible suggestions for topics will be given out before the Christmas break for the whole project.  Due January 16.

2. Final Paper.  (40%).  The final paper, 10-12 pages, which will build upon the mid-semester paper, will also focus on analysis and evaluation.  Due February 13.

3. Participation and Discussion (35%).  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

Underlined items are textbooks; otherwise the material is in the Reader (except for the first day—they’re attached to the syllabus).

Class 1:  November 14 (Tues):  Introduction.

General introduction of the course, including explanations for each of the sections.
What is Philosophy?  What is Ethics?
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 attached)

Section 1: Confucianism:

Class 2:  November 28 (Tues):  The Analects

Concepts of Hsiao, Jen, Li, and Tao

Reading:  Selected passages from the Analects.  Please see the attachment for the passage numbers.  We will use the entire book.

Class 3:  November 30 (Thurs):  Confucianism continued: Mencius, Critics, and Beyond

Ethics and contemporary discussions on Confucianism

Reading:  Mencius (reader), Xunzi (reader), Ivanhoe.

Section 2: Taoism

Class 4: December 5 (Tues):  Chuang Tzu

Introduction to Taoism
What is “metaphysics?”
The Taoist conception of Nature
Film on “Qi-gong” practice
Passages from Chuang Tzu

Reading:  “Half Of It” (optional).  Chuang Tzu, sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (pp.23-72).

Class 5: December 12 (Tues):  Chuang Tzu Continued, Lao Tzu

Chuang Tzu
Passages from Lao Tzu
Critique of Confucianism

Reading:  Chuang Tzu, sections 6, 7, 17, 18, 19, 26 (pp. 73-140).  Lao Tzu/Tao Te Ching (short selection in the reader, but also the book you have purchased).

Section 3: Buddhism

Class 6: January 9 (Tues):  Theoretical Background: India and China

Buddhism in India
The theory of the “no-self”
Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism
Suffering, Compassion, and Enlightenment
The “Middle Way”

Reading:  “Selected Essays on Buddhism,” Garfield.

Class 7: January 11 (Thurs):  Chan and Zen Buddhism; Culture and the Arts

The “Middle Way”
Chan practice, Zen practice
Culture and Art
Guest Speaker: Steven Tainer

Reading:  Garfield; “Shin Shin Ming”; “Zen and Japanese Culture”; Mallas piece

Section 4:  Shintoism and Shamanism

Class 8: January 16 (Tues): (Mid-Semester Paper Due)

Shintoism in Japan
Korean Shamanistic traditions
Guest Speaker: John Nelson

Reading:  J. Nelson; Kendall

Section 5: Philosophy and Modernity

Class 9: January 23 (Tues):  Confucianism and Modernity

Confucianism, modernity and the business world
Film:  Four Dragons

Reading:  Tu Weiming.

Class 10 and 11:  January 30 (Tues) and February 6 (Tues): Philosophical Issues in China, Korea, and Japan:  Engaging the West in the 20th Century

Human rights and democracy issues in China
Korean philosophy and the West
Japanese philosophy and the West
Zen philosophy and Japanese Imperialism:  Critiques

Reading:  “Rights, Liberalism, and China”;  “Korean Philosophy in the 20th Century”; “Philosophy of the Kyoto School and their ‘Overcoming of Modernity’ project’“; “Zen and Nationalism”;  Nishida and the Problem of Modernity.

Class 12: February 13 (Final Paper Due):  Buddhism and the Contemporary World

Socially Engaged Buddhism
Buddhism and Women

Readings:  “Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism”

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.  You can turn your papers in electronically (MS Word):

There will be a 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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