** PHIL 320: Oriental Thought **

Last Offered: Spring 1995

Index: Orientation :: Objectives :: Topics :: Outline :: Assignments :: Grades

The primary emphasis of the course will be focused on Oriental thought as an alternative to Western philosophical systems and religious beliefs. Because appreciation of this emphasis depends more upon adopting certain conceptual attitudes than upon accumulating historical facts or interpretations, class discussion will play a prominent role in course mechanics.
Course Objectives
Roughly, the objectives of the course are three:
(1) to provide you with a working knowledge of the main currents of philosophical speculation prevalent in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese traditions;
(2) to foster an understanding of the essential discontinuities between Oriental and Occidental approaches to epistemology, ethics, religion, metaphysics, and political philosophy; and
(3) to allow you an opportunity to experiment with Eastern habits of thought.
Course Materials
Five brief texts will be required:
-- Cleary, Thomas, tr. Immortal Sisters: Secrets of Taoist Women. Boston: Shambhala, 1989.
-- Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Hilda Rosner, tr. New York: New Directions, 1957.
-- Smullyan, Raymond. The Tao Is Silent. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.
-- Suzuki, Shunryu. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Trudy Dixon, ed. New York: Weatherhill, 1970.
-- Waley, Arthur. Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1982.

The following additional texts are recommended:
-- Addiss, Stephen, and Stanley Lombardo, trs. Tao Te Ching. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993.
-- Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology. New York: Penguin, 1970.
-- Fischer-Schreiber, Ingrid, et al., eds. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Hinduism. Boston: Shambhala, 1994.
-- Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Writings on China. Daniel J. Cook and Henry Rosemont, eds. Peru, IL: Open Court, 1994.
-- Mascaro, Juan, tr. The Dhammapada. New York: Penguin, 1973.
-- Mascaro, Juan, tr. The Upanishads. New York: Penguin, 1965.
-- Mote. Frederick W. Intellectual Foundations of China. Second Edition. New York: McGraw- Hill, 1989.
-- Waddell, Norman, tr. The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin. Boston: Shambhala, 1994.
A compendium of additional texts is available in the form of a course Bibliography.

Course Outline
After a relatively brief historical overview, readings and discussion will focus on five principal topic areas:
  1. Learning by unlearning: alternatives to epistemology;
  2. The paradoxes of divinity: alternatives to religious practice and belief;
  3. Government without governors: alternatives to political philosophy;
  4. Morality without motives: alternatives to ethical theory and moral reasoning;
  5. Objectivity without objects: alternatives to the metaphysical foundations of science.
Although specific readings will be assigned in order to introduce each of the above areas, these topics tend to overlap one another; each will be seen to surface periodically throughout the semester.
For the most part, reading assignments will be made on a weekly basis. Since the readings will serve as the primary springboard for class discussion, it is vital that you be familiar with whatever texts are appropriate to a topic before that topic is discussed in class.

There will be two (2) written assignments, as follows.

  1. Either:
    1. TWO brief reflection papers (no more than 5 standard pages apiece) on topics discussed in class; or
    2. ONE research paper (no more than 12 standard pages on a topic suited to your own interests.
  2. A philosophical journal (minimally) comprising weekly reflections on class issues or outside reading.
Ten percent of the final grade will reflect class participation. The remaining ninety percent of the final grade will be based on the following division (total possible points = 100):

* * SHANTI * *