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Comparative Worldviews




Admission Requirements



This course is an historical introduction to mostly non-Western philosophical and religious ideas. The course will proceed from some of the earliest philosophical ideas in the ancient world and continue on to consider more recent developments. One of the key problematics in the kind of liberal arts and sciences program offered by LUC is that of the ways in which knowledge has been created, organized, and legitimized throughout history and across the world. The goal is to help initiate students into the process of thinking about how historical and cultural contexts have shaped what it means to be knowledgeable.

Course Objectives

This course depends heavily on group discussion of significant primary texts in the history of philosophy and religion. Each class will begin with the instructor introducing the topics and readings for that day and offering an interpretation of the works being discussed. Students should join in the discussion at any time, asking questions, making suggestions, or making comparisons with other texts we have read. For each meeting, each student should mark out a short passage (one or two sentences) from the day’s reading that especially stood out.
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with, and evaluate, some major movements in the history of philosophy and religion;

  • reflect on and examine both shared and diverse human experiences so that you recognize the similarities and differences across cultures as well as historical periods; and

  • comprehend the relevance of the past to your understanding of the present while becoming more familiar with the perspective of your own cultural assumptions and values.

Mode of Instruction

Each teaching week of the course (Weeks 1 – 7) will consist of two 2-hour interactive discussions on the weekly topic, with reading to be completed prior to the meeting.

A BlackBoard site will support the course and provide for virtual interaction with the course material. Do check our course site regularly for up-to-date reading assignments, multi-media material, and announcements. For further details of how the course will proceed, see sections below on “Assessment” and “Weekly overview”.


To be confirmed in course syllabus:

In-class participation: 18%
Four web-postings (250 words): 24%
In-class mid-term examination (short answer and essay): 18%
Take-home examination (two 800-1000 word essays): 40%


Confucius, The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation (Balantine Books, 1999).

Carter and Palihawadana (translators), The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Dogen, Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen (University of Hawaii Press, 1992).

Olivelle (translator), Upanisads (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Other readings posted on Blackboard

Recommended Texts: Joel Kupperman, Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Contact Information

Dr. Adam Buben:

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction to Non-Western Philosophy
Week 2: India: Hinduism
Week 3: India: Buddhism
Week 4: China: Taoism
Week 5: China: Confucianism
Week 6: The West: Judeo-Christianity
Week 7: Japan: Zen and the Samurai
Week 8: Reading Week

Preparation for first session