Topics for Paper II, PHIL213 Asian Philosophy

Due Friday, February 13, 2009, in class.


1. Discuss three ways in which the Goddess chapter from The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti presents the two-fold truth of form and emptiness. [Hint: You can either choose all three passages presented in lecture,having to do with a) Sariputra and flower petals, b) Sariputra's faulty silence on enlightenment, and c) the exchange of gender, or analyze multiple aspects of one or two episodes.]

2.Orchestral vision. Present at least five ways in which Mozart's Requiem Mass is an apt analogy for Confucius' orchestral vision of humanity, society, and the Tao. Also discuss the ways in which it is not an apt analogy, i.e., differences between Confucius' vision and Mozart's vision of the Requiem. Include in your discussion the role of li (rites), te (virtue), hierarchy and equality.

3. One might argue that Zhuangzi describes a philosophy of perspectivalism, dissolution of (illusory) boundaries, and oneness with all things. Present these aspects in light of appropriate textual passages to explain his way of thinking.

4. Zhuangzi seems to advocate living in the world as it is without getting caught up in its hierarchical distinctions. His Daoist sage lives in the (Confucian) world but is not of it. Discuss how figures like Cook Ding and Woodworker Qing illustrate how one can live within the Confucian structures but not get caught up in the competitive quest for status and virtue.

5. Discuss how Zhuangzi's view of death fits into his overall Daoist philosophy. How is death related to his view of nature, to the problem of illusory distinctions, and to the intuitive awareness of the Dao?