There are no prerequisites for this course. (This course is taught in English.)
The native Chinese philosophies of Confucianism and Daoism have helped maintain the cohesiveness of Chinese civilization for more than two thousand years. Confucian ethics and social and political philosophy together with Daoist religious and aesthetic theory, inform the thought, social structures, and humanities of many Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, both past and present. This course will introduce these important and still very relevant thought patterns to students of both Chinese language and Asian history in general and students of philosophy in particular. We will focus on the five main indigenous philosophies of China: Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, Legalism, and Buddhism.
The general theme of the course is the triad of self, society, and cosmos. Confucian thought, traditionally the lynchpin of Chinese political philosophy and the foundation of Chinese social structure, has underpinnings in ancient macrobiotic techniques of self-cultivation and meditation that tie it in closely with early Daoist practices. And both of these philosophies taught man how to access the heavens, whether as an individual ascetic or as a member of the ritually stratified society. We will find that the major schools of philosophy in ancient China rose up either to defend or to depart from the Confucian position on self, society, and the cosmos. Buddhism rejected the Confucian this-world orientation of social service, as it denied the reality of the physical world.
The text in this course is occasionally written in the form of notes and is meant to support your assigned reading.
The course consists of 13 lessons and 2 major exams: a midterm exam and a final exam. Each lesson includes a practice homework (covering several exercises), either one writing assignment or one discussion board post, and one lesson quiz. Every lesson begins with a list of expected learning outcomes and the specific assignments for that lesson. Also, in every lesson there is a reading section called “Historical Background.” The lecture notes of the Historical Background aim to help you better understand the textbook and each philosopher. All the significant problems the pre-Qin philosophers were facing and their impact on the society will be listed. The lecture notes help you stay focused. Please read them thoroughly, as you will be tested on them in the homework exercises, lesson quizzes, and the midterm and final exams.
Each lesson has a homework set for a total of 12 homework sets. A homework set consists of selected readings and three to four homework assignments.
The reading assignments will set the historical background for the life, times, and thought of each philosopher or school. Each week, you will read several reading passages and review the concepts through a couple of homework exercises. Seven one-page reflection papers will either analyze a particular concept dear to a particular Chinese philosopher or compare and contrast the thought of a major Chinese philosopher with one or two of the previously introduced Chinese philosophers. Each philosopher should be read from the point of view of the basic themes of this course—self, society, and cosmos—and what can be learned about such concerns as self-cultivation, self-preservation, sagehood, authentic living, how best to govern society, how to access heavenly powers, and the like. The reflection papers are one page, single-spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins, with at least two quotes from the textbook. Save your work in a Word .DOC or .DOCX format. You must complete the homework set and reflection paper or discussion board question for a lesson before you can access the lesson quiz.
You may apply the methods from different Chinese philosophy schools (their views on self, society, and cosmos) to solve contemporary issues on the discussion board and discuss your solutions with your classmates.
Each lesson is tested. Lesson quizzes are comprehensive, open book, and timed; you may take each quiz up to 2 times. Lesson quizzes will not become available until all the homework and discussion questions (if relevant) have been completed for that lesson.
The midterm exam will include multiple-choice questions focusing on the facts, figures, and terminology of ancient Chinese philosophy. The midterm will be taken after lesson 6. The final exam will include multiple-choice questions and essay questions. It covers lessons 7-13. The essay questions on the final exam will test your understanding of each philosopher’s response to self, society, and cosmos as well as related issues. The best preparation for the final exam is to keep a running list of quotes arranged by philosopher. Midterm and final exams may not be retaken. A proctored midterm exam is worth 20 percent of your final grade. It is closed book and notes. The proctored final exam is also closed book and notes and is worth 20 percent of your final grade.
Course Introduction: Contents, Procedures, Expectations
Overview of Chinese Philosophy: Self, Society, and Cosmos
Lesson Quiz 1
History of Confucianism in China—Confucius
Readings and response to questions
Discussion Board Question—Confucius
Lesson Quiz 2
Reflection Paper 1: Confucius
Lesson Quiz 3
Reflection Paper 2: Mozi
Lesson Quiz 4
Reflection Paper 3: Zhuangzi
Lesson Quiz 5
Readings and response to questions
Discussion Board Question—Zhuangzi
Lesson Quiz 6
Reflection Paper 4: Mencius
Lesson Quiz 7
Readings and response to questions
Discussion Board Question—Mencius
Lesson Quiz 8
Reflection Paper 5: Xunzi
Lesson Quiz 9
Reflection Paper 6: Han Feizi
Lesson Quiz 10
Reflection Paper 7: Laozi
Lesson Quiz 11
Readings and response to questions
Discussion Board Question—Laozi
Lesson Quiz 12
Buddhism: Hui Neng and Chan/Zen
Reflection Paper 8: Buddhism
Lesson Quiz 13
Your final course grade will be determined as detailed below:
|Assignments and Exams||Percent of Grade|
|13 Lesson Quizzes||30% (the lowest quiz score is dropped)|
|12 Homework Assignments Sets||18%|
|8 Reflection Papers and 5 Discussion Board Participation||12% (the lower score is dropped)|
|E (fail)||59% or below|
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12 computer-graded homework sets (no resubmissions); 8 reflection papers (cannot be resubmitted; the lowest score is dropped); 5 discussion board posts (cannot be resubmitted); 13 computer-graded lesson quizzes (no resubmissions; lowest score will be dropped).
1 midterm and 1 final exam (midterm and final exams may not be retaken); both are proctored. You must pass the final exam with 60 percent or higher to pass the course.
Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.
Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.
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Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602-1514