World Philosophies [CRN 81234]

Discipline: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Instructor: MacKenzie
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1100
End: 1220
Field Work: Day 1 | November 24, 2018 | China
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

World Philosophies is a survey and critical engagement with several philosophical traditions from around the world. Our focus will be on the idea of philosophy as a way of life. That is, we will approach philosophical questions, texts, and traditions through the lens of what Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius called the art of living. We will read and discuss great philosophical works from Greece, Rome, Africa, India, and China. Texts include Plato’s The Trial and Death of Socrates, Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra (Guide to the Awakened Life), and the Daodejing (The Classic of the Way and Virtue). For each tradition, we will examine its theory of reality, account of human personhood, and ethics. The course structure will include lecture, discussion, student presentations, and field experience. Students will be expected to write several short philosophical essays on the material. Students will be asked to sympathetically, but critically, engage with the material, fellow classmates, and myself. Students will also be expected to reflect critically on the similarities and differences between these traditions, and on your worldview. Students will learn to identify and distinguish main historical traditions; identify and explain key philosophical concepts; read and comprehend key texts; write clearly and cogently on a variety of topics in world philosophy; and apply basic philosophical concepts to discuss problems of philosophical significance.

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 1
Date: November 24, 2018

We will visit the Confucius Temple and the Town God (Daoist) Temple in Shanghai. We will learn about the history, beliefs, and practices of both Confucianism and (religious) Daoism. We will reflect on similarities and differences between the textual accounts of these schools and their contemporary expressions and developments.

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