Religious Studies 302 Chinese Religions, Fall 2010-11 CRN 16006

Selected strands of religious thought in China. This course will examine various Chinese religious traditions, in particular Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Rather than provide a comprehensive survey of all of the strands of Chinese religion (which is impractical in a ten-week quarter), this course emphasizes in-depth understanding 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 in critical historical context. We will study key ideas within the 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.

2. Short exams: There will be two short, in-class exams, based on materials from the readings, lectures, and course web site.

3. Short papers: Students will write three short papers based on topics that will be provided by the instructor.

4. 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 the instructor. In the case of the latter, a one-paragraph description of the topic must be submitted by email to the instructor one week prior to the due date.

5. Late policy on written assignments: Three grace days total will be allotted excluding the medium-length final 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.

Email. Students should all have email accounts. Notices for the class will be posted by email.


Required Texts

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

2. D. C. Lau, tr., Lao Tzu-Tao Te Ching (New York: Penguin, 1963).

3. Burton Watson, tr., Zhuangzi (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

4. Burton Watson, tr., Xunzi (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

5. Course Reader, Religious Studies 302 Chinese Religions, Fall 2010.

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

Course Reader

1. Wade-Giles Romanization System

2. Notes for Lecture: Ancient China

3. Map of Ancient China-Warring States Period

4. Confucius' World of Ideas (diagram)

5. Key Terms of Early Confucianism

(Note: All articles below are cited in footnote/endnote format.)

6. A. C. Graham, "A Conservative Reaction: Confucius," Disputers of the Tao (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1989), 9-22.

7. Philip J. Ivanhoe, "Reweaving the 'One Thread' of the Analects," Philosophy East & West 40:1 (January 1990) 17-33.

8. _____, "Confucian Moral Self-Cultivation and Mencian Extension," unpublished paper (Stanford University, 1996) 1-18.

9. D. C. Lau, trans. Mencius, 54-59, 68-69, 76-79, 100-101, 114-116, 166-167, 172-177, 192-193.

10. _____, "Comments on Lau's Translation of the Tao Te-ching" 1-4.

11. _____, "The Concept of de in the Daodejing," unpublished paper (Stanford University, 1995) 1-18.

12. Finding List for Footnotes from Ivanhoe Article on Chuang Tzu.

13. Philip J. Ivanhoe, "Zhuangzi on Skepticism, Skill, and the Ineffable Dao," Journal of the American Academy of Religion LX:4 639-654.

14. Philip J. Ivanhoe, "Zhuangzi's Conversion Experience," Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Fall 1991: 13-25.

15. Jeremy Lloyd, "The Good Hunter," The Sun (December 2009), 4-11.

16. Dan Lerman, "Language and the Nature of Distinctions: An Analysis of Hsun Tzu and Chuang Tzu [Zhuangzi], unpublished paper, (1996) 3-13.

17. Philip J. Ivanhoe, "A Happy Symmetry-Xunzi's Ethical Thought," Journal of the American Academy of Religion LIX:2 309-322.

18. Philip J. Ivanhoe, "Moral Understanding and Human Nature in Xunzi," unpublished paper, Stanford University, 1992, 1-17.

19. Robert A. F. Thurman, trans., The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1987) 56-63, 73-77.

20. Mark Unno, "Key Terms - Nagarjuna and Early Chinese Buddhism"

21. Taitetsu Unno, "Philosophical Schools-San-lun, T'ien-t'ai, and Hua-yen" in Buddhist Spirituality, ed. by Takeuchi Yoshinori (New York: Crossroad, 1993) 343-365.

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

23. Philip Yampolsky, tr. The Platform Sutra of Hui-neng (NY: Columbia University Press, 1967) 125-153.


REL302 Chinese Religions - Class schedule including exams and papers

(CR: Course Reader; CR 1: Course Reader, 1st Selection)

Week 1 - The Background of Ancient China

9/27 Mon. Introduction to the Course-Chinese Religions: Whose Religions?

9/29 Wed. The Background of Ancient China: "Notes for Lecture: Ancient China," and other materials, CR 2-4.

10/1 Fri. Graham, "A Conservative Reaction: Confucius," CR 6.

Week 2 - Confucius: The Original Confucian?

10/4 Mon. Confucius: Fingarette, The Secular as Sacred, 1-36; "Key Terms of Early Confucianism" CR 5

10/6 Wed. Confucius: Fingarette, The Secular as Sacred, 37-70.

10/8 Fri. Confucius: Ivanhoe, "Reweaving the 'One Thread'," CR 7.

Week 3 - Mencius: Confucianism & Human Nature; Lao Tzu (Laozi): Return to the Tao (Dao).

10/11 Mon. Mencius: Lau, trans., Mencius, CR 9.

10/13 Wed. Mencius: Ivanhoe, "Confucian Moral Self-Cultivation," CR 8.

10/15 Fri. Laozi: Lau, trans., Lao Tzu-Tao Te Ching, Book I. Short Paper I due in class.

Week 4 - Lao Tzu: Return to the Tao; Zhuangzi: Skillfulness at Play

10/18 Mon. Laozi: Lau, trans., Lao Tzu-Tao Te Ching, Book II; Ivanhoe"The Concept of de in the Daodejing," CR 11. Ivanhoe, "Comments on Lau's Translation," CR 10.

10/20 Wed. Zhuangzi: Watson, trans., Zhuangzi, 1-30; 31- 88 (focus pages: 31-49, 62-63, 78-81).

10/22 Fri. Zhuangzi: Watson, trans., Zhuangzi, 89-140 (focus: 94-95, 126-140); Zhuangzi: Ivanhoe, "Zhuangzi on Skepticism, Skill," CR 13.

Week 5 - Zhuangzi: Skillfulness at Play

10/25 Mon. Zhuangzi: Ivanhoe, "Zhuangzi's Conversion Experience," CR 14; Jeremy Lloyd, "The Good Hunter," CR 15.

10/27 Wed. Laozi and Zhuangzi: Differences in the Dao.

10/29 Fri. Short exam A in class.

Week 6 - Hsun Tzu: Ritual and the Reform of Human Nature

11/1 Mon. Xunzi: Ivanhoe, "A Happy Symmetry-Xunzi," CR 16; Watson, tr. Hsun Tzu, 161-174.

11/3 Wed. Xunzi: Ivanhoe, "Moral Understanding," CR 17; Watson, tr. Hsun Tzu, 93-123.

11/5 Fri. Xunzi and Zhuangzi: Lerman, "Language and the Nature of Distinctions," CR 16; Watson, tr. 15-33, 83-92.

Week 7 - Buddhism: Indian Background; Mahayana Buddhism

11/8 Mon. Early Indian Buddhism: The Buddha Gotama.

11/10 Wed. Early Indian Buddhism: The Nikaya Teachings.

11/12 Fri. Mahayana Buddhism: Nagarjuna and Emptiness: "Key Terms - Nagarjuna," CR 20. Short Paper II due in class.

Week 8 - Buddhism: Indian Bodhisattva, Chinese Philosophical Schools

11/15 Mon.The Lay Bodhisattva Vimalakirti: The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, CR 19.

11/17 Wed.The San-lun and T'ien-t'ai schools: T. Unno, "Philosophical Schools," 343-364, CR 21.

11/19 Fri. Short Exam B in class.

Week 9 - Zen Buddhism: Master Bodhidharma; Master Hui-neng

11/22 Mon. The First Zen Master: Bodhidharma: Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism, CR 22.

11/24 Wed. Story of Hui-neng: Yampolsky, tr. The Platform Sutra, 125-134. CR 23.

11/26 Fri. Thanksgiving Break.

Week 10 - Zen Buddhism: The Platform Sutra

11/29 Mon. Wisdom and Meditation: Yampolsky, tr. The Platform Sutra, 134-153. CR 23.

12/1 Wed. Discussion of paper topics.

12/3 Fri. Concluding lecture. Final Papers due in class.