History of Philosophy
This course provides an historical approach to mostly non-Western philosophical and religious ideas. The course will proceed from some of the earliest significant texts in the ancient world and continue on to consider more recent developments. One of the key issues in the kind of liberal arts and sciences program offered by LUC is the way 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.
A bit about our starting point: The 6th century BCE marks a watershed in the history of human achievement. For example, it was around this time that Confucius and the Buddha lived, and the earliest of the Upanishads transitioned from a purely oral tradition. In the course of considering various schools of thought, it will be interesting to notice not only their shared histories and their divergent paths, but also some peculiar trends and goals that many of them have in common.
Students should be prepared for extensive reading, thinking, and writing, as well as active participation and engagement with the readings in the classroom, if they would like to do well in this course.
By the end of this course students should be able to:
Demonstrate familiarity with some major movements in the history of philosophy and religion.
Critically reflect on and examine both shared and diverse human experiences so that they can recognize the similarities and differences across cultures as well as historical periods.
Exhibit the analytic skills necessary to comprehend the relevance of the past to their understanding of the present, while becoming more familiar with the perspective of their own cultural assumptions and values.
Acquire a set of reading, writing, and discussion skills that allow them to engage texts and others in an informed and conscientious manner.
Once available, timetables will be published here.
Mode of instruction
Each teaching week of the course will consist of two 2-hour interactive discussions on the weekly topic, with reading to be completed prior to the meeting. This course depends heavily on group discussion of significant primary texts. Each class will begin with the instructor introducing the key issues 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 (1-3 sentences) from the day’s reading that especially stood out.
Participation and attentiveness in classroom discussions is worth 18% of the overall course grade. This will be assessed throughout the course, and is meant to encourage constructive and active engagement with course materials and fellow students.
A 300-word reflection will be due in four different weeks, and each will be worth 6% of the overall course grade (totaling 24%). These will help to assess the capacity to articulate questions, concepts, and arguments based on individual engagement with course readings.
One “mid-term” essay will be worth 18% of the overall course grade. This will encourage analysis of concepts covered in the course (as specified by instructor-determined topics), and expression of ideas in a clear and organized manner.
One final in-class short answer exam (during reading week) will be worth 40% of the overall course grade. This will encourage a clear comprehension of objective course content.
There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.
Required texts (and I do mean required):
The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha, translated by Carter and Palihawadana (Oxford University Press, 2008).
The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, translated by Ames and Rosemont (Balantine Books, 1999).
Upanisads, translated by Olivelle (Oxford University Press, 2008).
Others may be made available online.
- Joel Kupperman, Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts (Oxford University Press, 2006).
This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Adam Buben: email@example.com
Students who have taken Philosophies of the World at any other level in previous years should not enroll in this course.