Portland State University

PHL 319U Introduction to Asian Philosophy (4)

Instructor: David Komito, Ph.D.
Phone: 541-663-6264; this is my cell phone, I do not have an office phone. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is on Mountain Standard Time (one hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time).
Email: komito@pdx.edu

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course students will have acquired:

An understanding of the development of the major philosophic traditions of Asia within their contexts of origin.
An in-depth knowledge of the primary tenets and symbolic systems of Asian philosophy.
An understanding of several key Asian views on the nature of the person, mind and consciousness and the ethical consequences of these views.
A basic understanding of epistemologies of Buddhism, Samkhya and Vedanta.
An appreciation for the diversity of manifestations of the philosophic expressions in Asia.

About Your Instructor:

I trained as a scholar of world religions at Indiana University, from which I received M.A., M.S.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees. My primary interests are in the religions and philosophies of India and Tibet and the Psychology of Religion.  I am the author of three books on Buddhism and was a member of the translating team for a fourth book, which is a meditation manual used in the Dalai Lama’s monastery. In my view the more you know the simpler you will sound.  This means that while you can expect to be challenged and to learn a lot in this course which (hopefully) you will find personally useful; I will try to keep instruction clear and straight forward. In addition, you can expect me to be respectful of your religious and philosophical views, and to address the curiosity of the students in this course.

Required Texts:

Asian Philosophies; by John M. Koller; 6th Edition or 7th Edition, (you can use either edition).

Available online at no charge:

Course Requirements:

Students will be expected to

Course Discussions:

Means of Assessment and Grading Policies:

Each objective exam has fewer than 20 questions. Dates of exams and due dates for the essays are indicated in the weekly content, below. NOTE THAT A "WEEK" IN THIS COURSE RUNS FROM MONDAY THROUGH SUNDAY, SO APART FROM THE 4TH EXAM, ALL EXAMS, AND ESSAYS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY THE END OF THE WEEK, WHICH IS A SUNDAY. The assessments and points are as follows:

The following grading scale is applied for assigning final grades:

• 100 is the maximum number of points for the course.
• 90 points = A-
• 80 points = B-
• 70 points = C-
• 60 points = D-
• Less than 60 points = Fail

There is no "extra credit."

Conference with the instructor:

You may arrange a telephone or Zoom conference with me to discuss anything about the course by emailing me in advance <komito@pdx.edu> so we can find a mutually convenient time to talk.

Weekly Readings and Assessments

IMPORTANT NOTICE: A password is required to open all hyperlinks on this page. This password is posted in the course D2L site, and is available for students beginning on the first day of the term for which they have registered.

Be sure to read or listen to assignments in the numeric order indicated for each week.

Week 1: Introduction to the study of Philosophy in Asia

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Lecture: About Philosophy in Asia
  3. Read Koller, Chapter 1
  4. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 1
  5. Lecture: Early agricultural cultures and nomadic invasions: the dynamic tension in the history of Asian religions

Week 2: Vedas and Upanishadic Philosophy

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Lecture: About the Vedas and Upanishads; the philosophical schools of Samkhya and Vedanta
  3. Read Koller, Chapter 2
  4. Audio Comments part 1 on Koller, Chapter 2
  5. Audio Comments part 2 on Koller, Chapter 2
  6. Text and Commentary: The Katha Upanishad
  7. Mandukya Upanishad

Week 3: Samkhya and Vedanta

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Read Koller, Chapters 8 and 10
  3. Article on Samkhya Philosophy
  4. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 8
  5. Article on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
  6. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 10
  7. Lecture: The Bhagavad Gita
  8. Ramana Maharshi: Basic teachings
  9. Ramana Maharshi: The movie metaphor

EXAM I at the end of the week.

Week 4: Basics of Buddhist Philosophy

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Lecture: About Buddhist philosophy
  3. Read Koller, Chapter 4
  4. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapters 4 and 5
  5. Lecture: The Individual Path: Hinayana/Theravada
  6. Lecture: Buddhist origins: a systematic psychology for liberation
  7. Lecture: The Buddha's teaching about the "I" or "self"

Week 5: Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Read Koller, Chapter 5 and 6
  3. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapters 5 and 6
  4. Lecture: Buddhist universalism: interactions with Hinduism, Taoism and the Mahayana Buddhist envelopment of Asia
  5. Text and commentary: Tsongkapa's The Three Principal Aspects of the Path
  6. Lecture: Source consciousness and mental images

EXAM II at the end of the week.

Week 6: Comparing and Studying Indo-Tibetan Views on Existence and Consciousness

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Comments on Evan Thompson's comparative philosophy and the neuroscientific studies of meditation.
  3. Dalai Lama 14: Training the Mind
  4. Dalai Lama 14: Science at the Crossroads
  5. "Seeing: What is Consciousness?", Chapter 1 from Waking, Dreaming, Being; by Evan Thompson
  6. "Waking: How do we Perceive?", Chapter 2 from Waking, Dreaming, Being; by Evan Thompson
  7. "Being: What is Pure Awareness?", Chapter 3 from Waking, Dreaming, Being; by Evan Thompson.
  8. Article: "How Meditation Changes your Brain - and your Life"

Week 7: Roots of East Asian Philosophy in Taoism and Confucianism

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Lecture: About East Asian Philosophy
  3. Read Koller, Chapters 14, 16 and 18
  4. Lecture: Taoism: finding truth in nature
  5. Lecture: Nature and reality in East Asia

ESSAY 1 IS DUE by the end of the week.

Week 8: Neoconfucian Philosophy

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Lecture: Neoconfucian Philosophy and the management of the empire.
  3. Read Koller, Chapters 15 and 21
  4. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 15
  5. Lecture: Confucian Philosophy
  6. Article: Sung Dynasty Culture

EXAM III at the end of the week.

Week 9: Buddhist Philosophy in China

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. Audio Lecture: About Zen
  3. Read Koller, Chapter 20
  4. Audio Comments on Koller, Chapter 20
  5. Text and Commentary: The Platform Sutra of the 6th patriarch of Zen

Week 10: Buddhist Philosophy in Japan

  1. Commentaries/announcements in Canvas
  2. What is Zen?, a talk by Ed Sattizahn, San Francisco Zen Center
  3. Audio Lecture: Zen and martial Arts
  4. Lecture: Zen and archery
  5. Lecture: Zen gardens
  6. Read Koller, Chapter 23
  7. Lecture: Modern Zen

ESSAY 2 IS DUE by the end of the week.

Week 11: Last exam

EXAM IV is available on Monday and Tuesday of the 11th week.

This course ends at 11:59 PM, Tuesday, week 11.

PSU values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to fostering mutual respect and full participation for all students. My goal is to create a learning environment that is equitable, useable, inclusive, and welcoming. If any aspects of instruction or course design result in barriers to your inclusion or learning, please notify me. The Disability  Resource Center (DRC) provides reasonable accommodations for students who encounter barriers in the learning environment.

If you have, or think you may have, a disability that may affect your work in this class and feel you need accommodations, contact the Disability Resource Center to schedule an appointment and initiate a conversation about reasonable accommodations. The DRC is located in 116 Smith Memorial Student Union, 503-725-4150, drc@pdx.eduhttp://www.pdx.edu/drc.

Portland State is committed to fostering a safe, productive learning environment. Title IX and our school policy prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, which regards sexual misconduct — including harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. We expect a culture of professionalism and mutual respect in our department and class. Please be aware that as a faculty member, I have the responsibility to report any instances of sexual harassment, sexual violence and/or other forms of prohibited discrimination to PSU’s Title IX Coordinator, the Office of Equity and Compliance or the Dean of Student Life and cannot keep information confidential. You may report any incident of discrimination or discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, to either the Office of Equity and Compliance or the Office of the Dean of Student Life. If you would rather share information about sexual harassment or sexual violence to a confidential employee who does not have this reporting responsibility, you can contact a confidential advocate at 503-725-5672 or by scheduling on-line (psuwrc.youcanbook.me) or another confidential employee found on the sexual misconduct resource webpage. For more information about your obligations and resources for sex/gender discrimination and sexual violence (Title IX), please complete the required student module Creating a Safe Campus in your Canvas.