For the first time, the Department of Philosophy will offer a course on Asian Philosophies (PHIL 3040) in Spring 2019 (MWF, 10:10-11am). The course will be taught by Dr. Rohan Sikri, assistant professor of Philosophy.

This course introduces students to a selection of the major philosophical traditions to have emerged from South and East Asia, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Zen, among others. Students will undertake a critical study of the various worldviews and key philosophical concepts that distinguish each of these traditions, and, where suitable, will make comparisons with Western philosophies.

Some of the central topics studied in this course will include cosmogonies, conceptions of human nature, the nature of knowledge, questions of philosophical method, human psychology, and philosophical problems related to language. Another central thread of this course will highlight themes of social and political philosophy, drawing students’ attention to conceptions of the public ‘good’ as it is discussed across the various schools of Asian thought.

Specific topics in this area will include models of justice, the role of institutions in securing the ends of a just society, the relation between the public and private spheres, etc. While the class will seek the answers to such questions in individual texts, the discussions will also enable students to reflect on some of their own philosophical questions and concerns about the purpose and meaning of life.

Questions touched upon throughout the semester will include:

  • What do the early Hindu scriptures tell us about the nature of the Self?
  • How does the Buddha respond with his doctrines of ‘emptiness’ and the ‘middle way’?
  • What is the philosophy of Zen?
  • What is Dao
  • What are the disagreements between the Confucians and the Daoists?

If you are curious about the rich philosophical heritage of south and east Asia, register for PHIL 3040!