Topics in Asian Philosophy (Focus: Buddhism) [CRN 81224]

Discipline: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Instructor: MacKenzie
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1230
End: 1350
Field Work: Day 1 | December 2, 2018 | Japan
Prerequisites: The standard Colorado State University prerequisite of sophomore standing or higher has been waived by the professor Download Syllabus

Topics in Asian Philosophy will be an advanced survey of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhist philosophy emerges out of systematic reflection on the teachings of the Buddha, and the attempt to articulate, revise, extend, and defend the core insights of Buddhism. Buddhist thinkers throughout history have thought carefully and argued rigorously concerning questions of knowledge, truth, self, change, consciousness, logic, causality, and many other topics. We will begin with an examination of the philosophy of early Buddhism as represented in the Pāli Canon. We will then move on to engage Buddhist approaches to metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and person, and ethics. We will cover Buddhist thinkers and schools from India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan. The course will be based on critical examination and discussion of primary sources. The course format will include lecture, discussion, and student presentations. We will have the opportunity to engage with both historical and contemporary Buddhist culture through our field experience. Students will write a series of short philosophical essays on the material, as well as a longer final research paper.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 1
Date: December 2, 2018

We will visit a Zendo and temple in Kyoto, where we will engage in participatory learning about Zen thought and practice. Students will observe the art, architecture, symbolism, and practice of Zen. If possible, students will have the opportunity to learn zazen meditation.

  1. Gain an understanding of the similarities and differences between Buddhist traditions.
  2. Connect the readings and core philosophical concepts of Buddhism to contemporary expressions and practices.
  3. Identify contemporary cites or practices embodying or influenced by these traditions.
  4. Reflect on the continued relevance of Buddhist thought and practice in Asia.
  5. Reflect on similarities and differences with one’s religious and/or philosophical background.