Asian Thought & Global Concerns Syllabus

August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009


Prof. Mark A. Toole
Telephone: Office: (336) 841-9323 ​Cell / Home (303) 813-9113

Course Description
This course will begin by asking the question what does it mean for religion and philosophy to influence modern society, specifically as they relate to matters of business, environmental concern, governmental polity, and rights of the individual. Examples of topics that may be examined include: the intersection of Confucian ethical concepts with Asian eldercare efforts, as well as challenges to China’s “One Child” Policy; the intersection of Daoist and Shinto views of nature with large scale construction projects such as the Three Gorges Dam in China; the intersection of Hindu and Buddhist conceptions of the self with human rights concerns in India and China; as well as implications for the rise of democracy throughout Asia.

Goals For the Course/Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course you should…
• have some critical understanding of what “religion” is taken to be.
• have developed more skills for thinking critically about the phenomenon of religion.
• have an understanding of some of the questions posed in the study of religion.
• have developed a basic grasp of the terminology employed in the study of religion.
• have developed a general sense of the dynamics present in the intersection of religion and matters such as the environment, government, and conceptions of the “self.”
• have developed more skills to begin critically analyzing and interpreting the intersection of Asian religious and philosophic thought with other cultural and geo-political concerns.

“Asian News Analysis” Paper​​​ - 20 points​​ (20% of final grade)
Five “Talking Papers” based on readings​ - 20 points ​​(20% of final grade)
Website Analysis Paper - 10 points (10% of final grade)
Research Paper​​ - ​​​20 points​​ (20% of final grade)
Final Exam​​​​​ - 20 points​​ (20% of final grade)
Attendance & Participation​​​ - 10 points ​​(10% of final grade)

Required Books
1. Charlton, Sue Ellen M. Comparing Asian Politics: India, China and Japan, 3rd edition (Westview Press, 2009) ISBN 0-81-334414-X
2. Koller, John M. Asian Philosophies, 5th edition (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007) ISBN 0-13-195183-1

* Indicates required photocopied readings on reserve at Smith Library & available thru course website

Course Schedule and Outline
“R” = reading assignments that should have been completed for that week
It should be noted that this schedule is subject to change as the course progresses. Any changes (topics for the week, reading assignments, films) will be announced during preceding class periods.

Week One: August 24th & 26th​​​
Introduction & Toward a Definition of Religion​
• Introduction to the format of the course, readings, scope of our study, etc.
• Review syllabus, expectations, grading policy, etc.
• What is “religion?” How do we study religion?

Week Two: August 31st & September 2nd ​​
What is “culture?” How do we study culture?
R:​ Charlton, Introduction; *Geertz, “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,” (pp. 3-32)​​

Week Three: September 7th & 9th
Religion, Culture, Values, and Politics in America
Due: ​(Sept 9th) “Talking paper” #1 (based on Geertz)
R:​ *Kao & Copulsky, “The Pledge of Allegiance and the Meaning and Limits of Civil Religion,” (pp. 121-149); “Fact Sheet on the History of ‘In God We Trust’.” U.S. Department of the Treasury (Click here to be taken directly to the Treasury website)

Week Four: September 14th & 16th ​
General Asian Philosophies & Beliefs ​
Due: ​(Sept 16th) “Talking paper” #2 (based on Kao & Copulsky)
R:​ Koller, Introduction (xv - xx), Part I: South Asian Philosophies (Chap 1) & Part II: Philosophies of East Asia (Chap 14)

Week Five: September 21st & 23rd ​​
Metaphysics of Nature (Environment); Daoism
R: ​Koller, Chap 17 & 18; Charlton, Chap 3 & 6 - China; *Denver Vale Nixon, “The Environmental Resonance of Daoist Moving Meditations,” Worldviews: Environment Culture Religion 10, no. 3 (2006), p. 380-403; *Paul Goldin, “Why Daoism is Not Environmentalism,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32, no. 1 (March 2005), p.75-87.

Week Six: September 28th & 30th
Metaphysics of Nature (Environment); Shinto
Due:​ (Sept 30th) “Talking paper” #3 (based on either Nixon or Goldin)
R:​ Charlton, Chap 4 & 7 – Japan; “Public Works Endanger Japan’s Environment” NPR Oct 9, 2007​ (Click here to listen to the clip)

Week Seven: October 5th & 7th
Metaphysics of Self (Individual); Daoism
R:​ *Jung Lee, “Preserving One’s Nature: Primitivist Daoism and Human Rights,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 34, no. 4 (Dec 2007), p. 597-612.

Week Eight: October 12th & 14th
Metaphysics of Self (Individual)​​; Buddhism
Due:​ (October 14th) Asian News Analysis Paper
R:​ Koller, Chap 4, 5, 6

Fall Break​: October 16th – 24th

Week Nine: October 26th & 28th
Metaphysics of Self (Individual); Buddhism
R:​ Koller, Chap 19 & 22

Week Ten: November 2nd & 4th
Metaphysics of Self (Individual)​; Hindu Traditions
R:​ Charlton, Chap 2 & 5; Koller, Chap 2 & 8

Week Eleven:​ November 9th & 11th ​
Ethics (Society); Hindu Traditions​
R:​ *Nancy M. Martin, “Rights, Roles, and Reciprocity in Hindu Dharma,” in Human Rights and Responsibilities in the World Religions, 267-280.

Week Twelve: November 16th & 18th ​
Ethics (Society); Confucianism
Due: ​(Nov 18th) “Talking paper” #4 (based on Martin)
R:​ Koller, Chap 15 & 16; *Martin King Whyte,“Filial Obligations in Chinese Families: Paradoxes of Modernization,” in Filial Piety: Practice and Discourse in Contemporary East Asia, 106-127.

Week Thirteen: November 23rd
Ethics (Society); Confucianism
Due: ​(Nov 23rd) “Talking paper” #5 (based on Whyte)
R:​ Koller, Chap 20; *Akiko Hashimoto, “Culture, Power, and Discourse of Filial Piety in Japan: The Disempowerment of Youth and Its Social Consequences,” (2004); *Joseph Chan, “A Confucian Perspective on Human Rights for Contemporary China,” in The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights, 212-237.

Thanksgiving Break: November 24th - 29th

Week Fourteen: November 30th & December 2nd ​
Asian Thought & The “West”​

Week Fifteen: December 7th
Due: ​(Dec 7th) Research Paper
•December 9th is Reading Day

Final Exam: ​Consult exam schedule

No comments:

Site design by Sara Miller Marketing