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

Cohort X, Module II:  (16 Weeks, Wed. 6-10pm, LM 268)

Spring 2003 Syllabus

Professor Yoko Arisaka, Ph.D
Office: Campion D8  (Next to the classroom D7)
Office Hours: Wed before class, at LM Cafeteria after 5pm and by arrangement.  (Also T/Th, 2-3p, CA D8)
Office Phone: 422-6424   (422-6543 for the philosophy dept.)

Final Topics (Presentation due May 21; paper due May 25)

First Paper Topics (Due March 26)

On April 30, we had a guest speaker, Professor John Nelson, who will introduce Shintoism.  We also discussed and "tried" the I-Ching.  For May 7, please read the first three essays (all on China and Human Rights issues) in the last, modernization section, of the reader.

The Analects of Confucius (also text in Chinese) (this one has commentary) (passages not numbered)

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Laozi)

Course Description

This course examines both the historical development and current content of the diverse and rich religious and philosophical traditions of Asia.  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 6 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 “family,” “personal cultivation,” and “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 concepts of “reality” and “Nature.”
Section 3: Hinduism:  Perhaps the oldest of the Asian philosophies, Hinduism is a vital religious and cultural force not only in India but also among many people elsewhere in Asia.  In this section we examine the fundamental classical texts (The Vedas and the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita) as well as some influential contemporary writings (Gandhi, Aurobindo).  The conceptual emphasis in this section is the notion of “existence,” “moral action,” and the “ultimate self.”
Section 4.  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” and “freedom.”
Section 5.  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 6:  Philosophy and Modernity in East Asia Today: In this section we will study some contemporary philosophical or philosophically informed cultural writings.  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.


? Chuang-Tzu, Burton Watson translation, Columbia Univ. Press
? Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, Weatherhill
? The Analects of Confucius: Philos. Trans.  Roger Ames & Henry Rosemont, Ballantine Books
? Confucian Moral Self-Cultivation, Philip Ivanhoe, Hackett

? The reading (Lin Yutang and Jane English) for the first day is attached to this syllabus.
? Please purchase Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu) on your own.  Any translation (we will compare them).
? A copy of Bhagavad Gita is optional.  It is a beautiful text and you should have one in your collection of books, but a selection will be included in the Reader.
? A copy of I-Ching is optional, though a good idea to purchase, as they are meant to be “used” in its entirety.

? 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.

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.

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

Class 1 (Jan 29):  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 (Feb 5):   The Analects

? Concepts of Hsiao, Jen, Li, and Tao

Reading:  Selected passages from the Analects (see the list attached to Lin Yutang handout for the passages).  We will look at the passages on the list but also use the entire book.

Class 3 (Feb 12):  Confucianism continued: Mencius, Critics, and Beyond

? Mencius
? Xunzi
? Ethics and contemporary discussions on Confucianism
? Video on Confucianism and business in today’s Asia

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

Section 2: Taoism

Class 4 (Feb 19):   Chuang Tzu

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

Reading: Chuang Tzu, sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (pp.23-72).

Class 5 (Feb 26):   Chuang Tzu Continued, Lao Tzu

? Chuang Tzu
? Passages from Lao Tzu

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).

Class 6 (Mar 5):  Confucianism and Taoism: A Dialogue

? Summaries of both, as well as critiques and discussions

Section 3: Hinduism

Class 7 (To Be Scheduled—no class 3/12):  Historical and Theoretical Background

? The classical texts: the Vedas and the Upanishads
? Hindu Practice (Video)

Spring Break: March 19

The first paper on Confucianism and Taoism will be due March 26

Class 8 (Mar 26):  The Bhagavad Gita and the Contemporary Philosophical and Religious Worldview from Hindu Thought

? The Bhagavad Gita
? Ghandi, Aurobindo

Section 4: Buddhism

Class 9 (Apr 2):   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,” Suzuki

Class 10 (Apr 9):   Chan and Zen Buddhism; Culture and the Arts

? The “Middle Way”
? Chan practice, Zen practice
? Culture and Art

Reading:  Suzuki; “Shin Shin Ming”; Mallas piece, Ten Oxherding Pictures, Haiku

Class 11 (Apr 16):  Summary of Buddhism, with conceptual references to Hinduism

Section 4:  Shintoism and Shamanism

Class 12 (Apr 23):

? Shintoism in Japan
? Korean Shamanistic traditions
? I-Ching

Reading:  Selections on Shintoism; Korean Shamanism; I-Ching

Section 5: Philosophy and Modernity

Class 13 (Apr 30):  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”; “Zen and Nationalism”;  Nishida and the Problem of Modernity.

Class 14 (May 7):  Philosophical Issues in China, Korea, and Japan:  Engaging the West in the 20th Century Continued

Class 15 (May 14): Buddhism and the Contemporary World

? Socially Engaged Buddhism
? Buddhism and Women

Readings:  “Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism”

Class 16 (May 21): (Final Paper Due):  Presentations of the Papers; Summary and Discussion of the Course

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 keep a copy of your paper either on your computer or on a disk, in case it becomes lost (unlikely, but could happen).  You can turn your papers in electronically (MS Word):

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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