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Philosophy 202

Instructor: David Wong

Course Title: Introduction to Philosophy: Asian Tradition

Office: 7/623
Telephone: 845-9254


Human life is a part of history, and the enterprise of philosophy, which is a reflection on
life, is, to a great extent, delineated in terms of historical environments. However, the
fundamentals of human experiences, which are the data of philosophical reflection, are
the same everywhere. The transitoriness of all things, the play of chance, the emotions of
love and hate, fear and jealousy, the continual presence of death, the anxiety to overcome
the corruptibility of things, to enjoy the fleeting moments -- all of these determine
meaning and value for each person's life..

Underneath the surface differences, there is the man with his strengths and capacities, his
ideals and aspirations, as well as his human weaknesses and failings. Encompassing the
differences there is Mankind, which is universal. Nothing human is alien. Mankind
speaks one spiritual language, the various cultures being its dialects.

We remember and repeat Kipling's "East is East and West is West and never the twain
shall meet." But we hardly recall his other lines:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor
Birth When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they
come from the ends of the earth.
The purpose of this course is to enable students to understand, appreciate, and above all,
to feel that there are cultures totally different from ours. Through the study of
"eastern/western philosophy," which reveal the depth of Eastern/Western culture and
thoughts, the bridge between East and West becomes a reality.

Course Objectives:

The objectives of this course are based on the assumption that Eastern and Western
philosophies may be regarded as the study of man in his inner and outer aspects. These
two aspects of man can be delineated into three types of life style:

The way of Intuition -- Eastern

The way of Rationalism -- Western

The third way, i.e., combination of the two

Cultures with divergent political, economic, aesthetic, and religious ideals and values are
grounded in differing philosophical conceptions of the nature of man and the universe.
But to think that any one way of life is the only way seems to be the highest
egocentricity. The different geniuses of the people need not be reduced to the dead level
of uniformity. They reveal different qualities. Our task is not to replace one way of life by
another, but to share the treasures of which each is the custodian. There are no
fundamental distinctions between East and West. Each one of us is both Eastern and
Western. East and West are not two historical and geographical concepts, according to
comparative philosophy: They are two possibilities, which every person in every age
carries within himself. The possibility of the "rational" and the possibility of "intuition."

Technical advancement has reduced the world into a neighborhood. And technology as
such cannot proceed any further in this direction. It could now be the task of philosophy
to step in and transform this neighborhood into a genuine brotherhood by means of a
harmonious synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophies and social orders. What is
needed involves neither a conflict between East and West nor a merger of the two. Each
should retain its integrated structure, but acquire from the other its complimentary values.
By such a mutual sharing of the two developments in both East and West -- spiritual
quest and intellectual satisfaction -- a world perspective in philosophy, if not a world
philosophy will emerge.

Politically and economically, the different parts of the world have become interlinked. We
want mutual understanding of cultures by attaining a reflectiveness of their philosophies.
Mutual understanding of cultures will be mere dilettantism without mutual understanding
of their philosophies, and mutual philosophies are not possible unless it is accepted that,
essentially and in truth, man and his reason are the same everywhere.

Neither the Orient nor the Occident is philosophically self-sufficient; each lacks the total
perspective, which is now seen as necessary for philosophy. If we are to correct the
narrowness resulting from a one-sided and exclusive preoccupation with either Eastern or
Western thought, if we are to fortify our inner life with the dignity of a more perfect and
universal experience, an understanding of each other's culture is imperative.

Of course, it is not easy for an individual to achieve a synthesis of values that may
represent a wise combination of the values of different historical cultures. But we can
learn to value different historical cultures. When each of us can transcend his or her
cultural outlook, learning to show detachment toward his or her own, and have
sympathetic tolerance toward other cultures, world peace will be nearer realization and
not a mere pious hope.

Course Objectives to be achieved

Each student will demonstrate his ability to understand each major philosophy in terms

• Its Philosophical Treaties

• Its Founder
• Its Aim
• Its Goal
• Its Methods
• Its Argument
• The difference between its Philosophical Tenants and its Religious implication
and Overtones.

Each student will demonstrate his ability to recognize and to identify and describe
important philosophical terms.

Students will evaluate the philosophical beliefs under study with his or her subjective
existential involvement in the following questions.

• Are the philosophies under study viable now?

• Which if any of the philosophies best relates your Life and Worldview?
• Is there a Universal Truth/Absolute that we all should follow?
• Who or What am I in this ever Becoming society?
• What criteria do I have to determine my Value?
• How do I know what I consider Right is really Right?
• What will I take seriously without reservation?
• Am I "Free" and how do I view "Freedom" in terms of my existence?

Course Structure

1. Lectures

2. Assigned Readings

3. Classroom discussion

4. Films, videotapes

5. Paintings, artifacts

6. Guest lectures

The students will demonstrate evidence of achieving the above objectives by:

1. Writing a reaction paper, no less than 2 (two) typed pages double-spaced.

2. And one final paper, no less than 4 (four) typed pages. The final paper will then
be a journal showing involvement and demonstrating descriptive and reflective
analysis of the student's understanding which philosophical perspective would
best describe his or her life.
Criteria for Grading Reaction Paper and Final Journal

1. Paper relates analysis of specific problems to the philosophical context.

2. Paper is supported by acceptable evidence, as discussed in class or from texts.
3. Paper is organized logically and persuasively.
4. Paper shows analytical ability by presentation of appropriate comparative data
and different philosophies and their theories.
5. Paper shows personal (subjective) involvement.

Attendance is mandatory

The objective of the class, aside from lectures, is participation in class discussion among
students and instructor.

The discussion is to demonstrate his or her ability to reveal analytically the various
proposals or "solutions" offered for problems by various philosophies and cultures
studied in the course.

1. Definition of Philosophy

• What is Philosophy?
• Why study Philosophy
• Some major difference between East/West Philosophies

2. Self Discovery
The Fall, by Albert Camus

• Who Am I
• The Unconscious Self
• Man searches for meaning
• Society of options or indoctrination
• My possibilities and my limitations

3. Alternate Path -- What to Choose and Why "Siddhartha"

4. Religion

• Why do we believe?
• Is Religion superstitious
• Freedom/Determinism

5. Existentialism

• We decide Truth, or who we are.

• Responsibilities
• Freedom
• Birth and Death

6. Relativism (Taoism)

• Complementation/Contradiction
• All things, values, reveal itself through its opposites
• Non-Duality, Unity of opposites
• No absolute, but only Functional Absolutes

7. Experience (Zen)

• Life is not an abstract idea

• Primacy of Experience
• Intuition/Conceptual
• Reality is non-abstraction (negation of all intellectual)

8. All Things Change (Buddhism)

• Permanent/Change
• Is there an Absolute?
• Things as things

9. Consciousness (Hegel)

• Dialectics
• Master and Slave Relationship
• Unhappy Consciousness
• The acceptance of Human Possibilities in this world and its Negation
• Absolute Master (God)

10. Karl Marx: Communism

• Dialectical and Historical Materialism

• Exploitation: Have and Have Not
• Alienation
• Human Equality and Freedom

11. Human Nature (Confucianism)

• Man by Nature is Good/Bad

• Liberalism/Conservatism
• Law and Order/Human Rights
• Social Ethics