Philosophy 213 Asian Philosophy, Winter 2008-09 CRN 24225

Introduction to selected religious philosophies of Asia. This course will examine various Asian religious and philosophical traditions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Rather than provide a comprehensive survey of all of the Asian philosophies (which is impractical in a ten-week quarter), this course emphasizes in-depth understanding of selected traditions through the study of primary religious texts supported by secondary readings in the relevant scholarly literature. The focus of our examination will be on the philosophical understanding of religious ideas supported by a critical examination of historical context. There will also be selected comparisons with Western thinkers, in particular Soren Kierkegaard and Audre Lorde. We will study key philosophical ideas within the critical context of various cultural and historical issues such as gender, class, and ritual.


1. Attendance: Required. Students can have one unexcused absence without penalty. Each class missed thereafter without prior permission will result in 1/2 grade penalty for the course grade. Attendance at weekly discussion sections is mandatory.

2. Short exams: Two short, in-class exams, based on materials from the readings, lectures, and course web site. The first exam will include questions on writing papers, based on essays from the course web site.

3. Short papers: Two short papers on the readings, 2-3 pages each. Paper topics will be posted to the course web site.

4. Presentation: Students will make a presentation on the readings for one of the section meetings. The presenter should NOT summarize the reading but should use the presentation to discuss why the selected ideas/passages in question are important for understanding the reading and proceed to explain and well as raise questions about these ideas/passages. Each student will prepare a handout with ONE question and accompanying quotation(s) from the readings.

The primary purpose of these presentations is to launch the discussion, not to demonstrate breadth of knowledge or to lead the discussion. Each presenter will prepare a handout with 2 questions and brief, corresponding quotations from the readings. More detailed instructions will be provided on the course web site.

5. Final paper: Each student will hand in a medium length final paper of 4-6 pages double-spaced. Suggested topics will be provided. Students may choose to create their own topics with the consent of their section leader. In the case of the latter, a one-paragraph description of the topic must be submitted by email to your GTF one week prior to the due date.

6. Late policy on written assignments: Three grace days total will be allotted excluding the medium-length paper for which no extensions will be given. For all other assignments, a cumulative total of three late days will be allowed without penalty. Thereafter, each late day will result in a two-point deduction from the course grade. Weekends are not counted against the grace days.

7. No laptops. Unfortunately, in the largest lecture courses, we have found that too many students from almost the beginning of the course use their laptops to browse entertainment sites rather than take notes. This has not been true for smaller classes and lectures under 150 students.


Required Texts (Information listed here is given in footnote/endnote format.)

1. Herbert Fingarette, Confucius-The Secular as Sacred (New York: HarperCollins, 1972).

2. Burton Watson, tr., Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

3. Taitetsu Unno, tr. Tannisho-A Shin Buddhist Classic (Honolulu: Buddhist Study Center Press, 1996).

5. Course Reader, Philosophy 213 Eastern Philosophy World, Winter 2005

Available at the Copy Shop, 539 E. 13th Street, Eugene, OR 97401, TEL 485 6253

Course Reader

1. Ralph T. H. Griffith, trans., The Hymns of the Rgveda (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1973) 206, 633-4.

2. A. C. Bhakitvedanta Swami Prabhupada, trans., Bhagavad-Gita As It Is (Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1990) 633-634.

3. B. Srinivasa Murthy, trans., The Bhagavad-Gita (Long Beach, CA: Long Beach Publications, 1985) 29-44.

4. Joseph Campbell, Oriental Mythology - The Masks of God (NY: Penguin, 1991) 343-353.

5. Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983) 5-23, 34-53.

6. Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) 9-26.

7. Mark Unno, "Key Ideas: Nagarjuna" and "Key Ideas: Philosophical Schools."

8. Jay Garfield, trans., The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way (NY: Oxford University Press, 1995) 67-72.

9. C. W. Huntington, The Emptiness of Emptiness (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1990) 36-59.

10. Robert A. F. Thurman, trans., The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1987) 56-63.

11. Taitetsu Unno, "Philosophical Schools-San-lun, T'ien-t'ai, and Hua-yen," in Buddhist Spirituality, ed. by Takeuchi Yoshinori (New York: Crossroad, 1995) 343-365.

12. P. J. Ivanhoe, "Zhuangzi on Skepticism, Skill, and the Ineffable Dao," Journal of the AAR, LX:4 639-654.

13. Heinrich Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History-India and China (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1988) 85-94.

14. Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980) 13-21, 29-47.

15. Mark Unno, "Key Terms - Philosophical Terms in the Zen Buddhist Thought of Dogen"

16. Norman Waddell and Masao Abe, trans., "Shobogenzo Genjokoan," by Dogen Kigen, The Eastern Buddhist 5:2 (10/1972) 129-140.

17. Mark Unno, "Key Terms - Pure Land Buddhism and the Philosophy of Honen and Shinran."

18. Mark Unno, "The Nembutsu of No-Meaning and the Problem of Genres in the Writings and Statements of Gutoku Shinran." The Pure Land 10-11 (12/1994). 1-9 (originally pages 105-121).

19. Mu Soeng Sunim. Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen-Tradition & Teachers. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1987. 28-48, 191-314.

20. Catherine Keller, "Feminism and the Ethic of Inseparability," Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (NY: HarperCollins) 256-265.

21. Audre Lorde, "Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power," Sister Outsider (Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1984) 53-59.  

Weekly Schedule PHIL213 W09 Asian Philosophy
(Reading assignments are to be completed by the date under which they are listed.)
RT = Required Text; CR = Course Reader; CR1 = Course Reader Selection No. 1)

1/5 Introduction: Western Logic & Eastern Logic: 3-step syllogism & 4-step dialectic
Indian Philosophy - Hinduism
1/7 Early Practice & Logic; History & Transcendence. Reading: Rg Veda, CR1.
1/9 Ascetics and Warriors: Yoga and Duty. Reading: Bhagavad Gita, CR2, 3.
1/12 Comparison: Soren Kierkegaard's Knight of Faith. Reading: Fear & Trembling, CR5.
1/14 Eros and Agape: Transgression & Transcendence. Reading: Oriental Mythology, CR4.
Indian Philosophy - Buddhism
1/16 Early Buddhism: Life and Thought of Sakyamuni Buddha. Reading: Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism, CR6.
1/19 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday (no class)
1/21 Mahayana Buddhism: Nagarjuna - Two-fold Truth and Four-Step Dialectic.
    Reading: Unno, Garfield, & Huntington, CR7, 8, 9.
1/23 Mahayana Buddhism: Emptiness in Scripture. Rdg: The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, CR10. Paper I due in class.
Chinese Philosophy - Confucianism
1/26 Early Chinese Society and Confucius. Rdg: Fingarette, Confucius, RT, vii-xi, 1-17.
1/28 Confucius and the Orchestral Vision. Rdg: Fingarette, Confucius, RT, 18-56.
Chinese Philosophy -Daoism
1/30 Zhuangzi & the Logic of Daoism. Rdg: Zhuangzi, RT, 1-30; Ivanhoe, "Zhuangzi," CR12.Exam A in class.
2/2 Zhuangzi & Skillfulness. Rdg: Zhuangzi, RT, 31- 88 (focus pages: 31-49, 62-63, 78-81).
2/4 Zhuangzi, Life, & Death. Rdg: Zhuangzi, RT, 89-140 (focus pages: 94-95, 126-140).
Chinese Philosophy - Buddhism
2/6 Chinese Philosophical Schools : San-lun & T'ien-t'ai. Rdg: Unno "Ch Phil Schools," CR11.
2/9 Chinese Philosophical Schools : T'ien-t'ai & Hua-yen. Rdg: Unno "Ch Phil Schools," CR11.
2/11 Zen (Chan) Buddhism. Rdg: Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, CR13.
Japanese Philosophy - Zen Buddhism
2/13 Dogen: Rdg: "Philosophical Terms in the Zen Buddhist Thought of Dogen," CR15. Paper II due in class.
2/16 Dogen & Soto Zen: Rdg: Dogen: "Shobogenzo Genjokoan," 129-133, CR16.
2/18 Dogen & Soto Zen: Rdg: Dogen: "Shobogenzo Genjokoan," 134-140, CR16.
2/20 Comparison: Soren Kierkegaard's Relation Self. Rdg: Sickness Unto Death, 13-21, 29-47, CR14.
Japanese Buddhism - Pure Land Buddhism
2/23 Shinran and Shin Buddhism. Rdg: Unno "Key Terms : Pure Land Buddhism, CR17.
    Rdg: Mark Unno, "The Nembutsu of No-Meaning and the Problem of Genres," CR18.
2/25 Shinran. Rdg: Tannisho-A Shin Buddhist Classic, SECTIONS 1, 3, 13, 4, 8, Afterword, RT.
2/27 Shinran. Rdg: Tannisho-A Shin Buddhist Classic, SECTIONS 9, 5, 10, 6, Epilogue, RT.
Korean Buddhism
3/2 Comparison: Eros & Compassion. Rdg: Catherine Keller, "The Ethic of Inseparability, CR20; Audre Lorde, "Uses of the Erotic," CR21.
3/4 Exam B in class.
3/6 Classical Period: Wonhyo - Scholar and Transgressor. Rdg; Thousand Peaks, 28-48, CR19.
3/9 Modern Period: Seung Sahn - East and West. Rdg; Thousand Peaks, 191-314, CR19.
3/11 Discussion of final paper topics.
3/13 Final Lecture. Final Papers Due in Class.