World Philosophical Traditions
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"Pine, Plum and Cranes" 1759, by Shen Quan

PHL 156-01

MARYGROVE COLLEGE

FALL 2010

Instructor:

Steven W. Patterson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies Dept., Marygrove College

Contact Information

Office Phone: 313-927-1539
Departmental Phone: 313-927-1556
e-mail: spatterson_@_marygrove.edu Note: The best way to reach me is via e-mail. Remove the underscores before and after the '@' or just use this Contact form.
Office:346 Madame Cadillac Hall
Open Office Hours:Mon.-Thurs., 9:30-10:30 AM If you cannot make it to open office hours, e-mail me to schedule an appointment.


Course Information

Meeting Times: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 PM in LA 242
Credit Hours: 3, Satisfies General Education Requirements
Prerequisites: None

Course Objectives

The principal aim of this course is to afford the student introductory exposure to non-Western philosophical approaches to some of the most interesting and intractable problems of human life. Utilizing an area studies approach, together we will explore the question of the good life, the nature of persons, the question of the criteria for what makes both persons and societies virtuous, and the nature and place of contemplation and learning in a well-lived human life. A student who successfully completes the course requirements will thus achieve broad familiarity with the principal concepts and approaches employed in some of the most important philosophical problem areas encountered by thinking people in a diverse culture. By approaching these questions through non-Western sources, the successful student will gain an appreciation for the traditions of inquiry that inform and underlie some of the major cultures of the world. This will afford the student with new conceptual approaches to problems in his or her own cultural context, as well as providing the student with an opportunity to learn how to engage systems of value and thought different from his or her own.

Our conception of the kind of beings we are drives our intuitions about the moral obligations we owe to each other and about the justice of our society. Hence the second aim of this course is to enhance the level of sophistication with which students understand and think about the nature of human identity and its connection to moral and political values, especially in a global context. An understanding of this linkage is essential to a full appreciation of the meaning of social justice, and is an invaluable asset to those who would be leaders. Also integral to leadership is the ability to read, write, and think critically and carefully about difficult problems that resist easy solution. Hence this course has the objective of enhancing students’ critical thinking abilities through acquisition and application of the analytical and imaginative skills that form the core of the philosophical method. Because they are so widely applicable to concrete problems, development of the sort of critical thinking skills that make up the philosophical method is a fundamental part of general education, and one of the chief benefits of a course of this nature.

Finally, this course has been specifically designed to assist students in developing consistent routines and good habits for intellectual work. A student who completes the requirements, in doing so, will have cultivated not only these good work habits, but his or her intellectual discipline as well. Thus this course has the fourth objective of helping students become more effective, self-motivated and self-disciplined life-long learners.

Core Questions

  1. What is the self? How does our thinking about the nature of the self influence our thinking about what constitutes the best life for human beings?
  2. Does one have an obligation to cultivate one's own moral character? If you think so, then to whom do you think this obligation is owed? Is it to ourselves? To our parents? To society in general? Perhaps some combination of these? Perhaps to someone or something else? Defend your answer. If you think we do not have an obligation to cultivate our own moral character, then defend that position.

Student Responsibilities

Assignments

Quizzes

We will have a quiz every other week. They will cover material from readings as well as lectures. Each quiz (except the first, obviously) will deal only with material covered since the last quiz. Quiz dates are given in the Course Plan. The quizzes will be administered online, not in class. We will discuss the procedure for taking the quizzes in class.

The purpose of the quizzes is to gauge student success at becoming familiar with the ideas, concepts and approaches that comprise the content of our study, as well as student’s abilities to read, write, and think critically and carefully. The lowest two grades will be dropped.

Review Questions

On the days noted in the course plan students will be responsible for completing and turning in review questions pertaining to the readings. These readings are found in the book near the end of the chapters.

The purpose of all of the questions is to help students build the intellectual discipline needed for successful lifelong learning. Study questions have the additional purposes of enabling students to engage the readings more thoroughly, preparing students for productive class discussions, and of helping students to prepare for quizzes and tests. Two sets of questions may be missed without penalty.

Review questions will be graded on an "all or nothing" system, according to the following guidelines:

  1. A serious attempt must be made to answer all of the questions. Answers like "I don't know", "I couldn't find it", or just leaving a blank space will result in no credit being given for the assignment.
  2. All questions must be answered in complete sentences of standard English, not with bullet points or notes.
  3. All questions must be answered "in your own words"—all this means is that you should not simply copy passages of text down as your answers, but make some attempt to synthesize and explain the material yourself.
  4. All questions must be typed and printed in a reasonable font size, and multiple sheets must be stapled together. Do not use a cover sheet, folder, etc.
  5. You may work together outside of class on the review questions but copying is cheating. Any case of identical answers to the questions will result in the denial of credit to all parties.
  6. Remember that this is for your benefit. You will be using these questions to study for your quizzes and tests. Put enough effort into them to make them useful in that regard.

Attendance and Participation

Philosophy, by its nature, is a highly discursive subject that requires a great deal of intellectual discipline and individual engagement of students both with the instructor and with each other. Because a community of thinkers is necessary to the enterprise, informed, consistent participation is the single most important component of our class work. Merely coming to class is not enough. The Participation component of the grade is based on two factors: 1) timely attendance to every class meeting, and 2) competent preparation and participation.

Timely Attendance:

Quality participation is impossible if one is absent or habitually late. So regular and timely attendance is expected and attendance will be taken at every class meeting (excepting the first week) via a sign-in sheet that will be circulated by the instructor at the beginning of class. Students in this class shall be allowed two (2) unexcused absences. Unexcused absences exceeding two and excessive lateness in attendance to class shall warrant deductions from the day’s participation grade. Excessive lateness shall be defined for our purposes as arriving at class fifteen minutes or more after class has begun. Excessive lateness and any absences will be excused upon proof of sufficiently extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the instructor.

Preparation and Participation:

Quality participation requires that you come to class prepared, and this entails doing the study questions provided for each reading on Blackboard. Although preparation is required, complete understanding is not a prerequisite for participation.

Some examples of how participation credit can be earned:
  • Thoughtful questions about the material
  • Thoughtful comments about the material
  • Philosophically relevant questions or comments, even if they’re not about the material
  • Respectful discussion with one’s colleagues at appropriate times
Some examples of how participation credit can be lost:
  • Being unprepared when called upon
  • Habitual/ Recurring Lateness
  • Inappropriate questions and comments
  • Any behavior that is disrespectful or that distracts from the learning of others.
  • Sleeping
  • Frequently departing from and returning to the classroom while class is in session
  • Text-messaging, web-surfing or otherwise manipulating small electronic devices while class is in session
  • Eating
  • Studying materials for other classes
  • Side discussions

The basic rule is: Good participation moves class discussion forward; poor participation hinders it.

The participation component of the course is intended to measure students’ preparedness, ability to deploy critical thinking skills discursively, and willingness and ability to function collegially with one another and with the instructor for the common purpose of meeting the course objectives.

Final Grade Distribution

Quizzes 45%
Review Questions 30%
Attendance and Participation 25%
Total 100%

Course Policies

Conduct Policy

It is expected that all persons in this class will comport themselves with the dignity and respect due to themselves and to their colleagues. This includes coming to class on time, refraining from having side-discussions while lecture is in progress, refraining from studying materials for other classes during lecture, refraining from bringing any food to class, refraining from texting during class, and leaving at home or turning off any and all items that make sudden, disruptive noises, especially cell phones. Please don’t bring children to class unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and if you must do so please notify me in advance as early as possible. Failure to observe these guidelines may result in deductions from the Participation grade.

Late and Make-up Work Policy

Students are accountable for turning in all assigned work on time. As in the "real world" late work is not accepted, ever, for any reason. Please don't ask. The answer is "no". You will be given sufficient time for the completion of all work assigned to you in this class. The opportunity to miss two sets of study questions and two days of class without penalty should compensate for the usual sort of absences. I will not even consider scheduling or accepting make-up assignments unless:

  1. more than two have been missed and
  2. highly unusual, severe, and sufficiently verifiable circumstances have been demonstrated to my satisfaction.

If you know, or suspect that you will be absent on the day that an assignment is due, please notify the instructor as far in advance as possible so that satisfactory alternative arrangements can be made. You cannot expect accommodation on short notice (i.e. phone messages left at 4 AM the morning of class).

Do not e-mail, FAX, or by any other means convey late or early assignments to the instructor without a prior arrangement to do so. Assignments received in such ways will be disregarded.

If you miss class for any reason, it is your responsibility to get the notes from a classmate and familiarize yourself with whatever material you may have missed. I do not give out my notes.

I highly recommend making at least one contact in class who can provide you with notes and assignments in the event that you miss class. In the interest of fairness to all, no make-up work of any

Withdrawal Policy

All withdrawal slips will be signed with no questions asked. Incompletes (grades of “I”) will not be given unless: 1) highly unusual and severe circumstances prevent a student from completing the work necessary to complete the class, 2) enough work has been done, in the instructor’s judgment, to leave only a minimal amount of work remaining for the student to complete, and 3) the student expressly requests a such a grade at least one week before the day scheduled by the College for the final exam.

Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

Plagiarism or cheating on any assignment will not be tolerated for any reason. Should you do either you will receive an “E” for the assignment on the first occasion, and the student’s adviser and the Dean will be informed in accord with Marygrove’s academic standards policy. Repeated offenses will merit stronger disciplinary measures, which the instructor will pursue. Students are encouraged to consult the Academic Honesty policy in the Undergraduate Catalog for more detailed information.


Required Texts

For this class the required texts are:

  1. Mark Siderits, Buddhism as Philosophy: An Introduction (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing) 2007 ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-873-5
  2. Phillip J. Ivanhoe, Confucian Moral Self-Cultivation (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing) 2000 ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-508-6

Students are responsible for timely acquisition of the course texts. Failure to acquire the texts will adversely affect student preparedness and performance.


Instructor Responsibilities

Grading

Grading is the instructor's responsibility. Students have the right to grades given solely on the merit of the points achieved and weighted as described under the Assignments section of this syllabus. Accordingly, no curves, preset distributions, or other forms of manipulation will be used. All grades will be based solely on the quality of work as reflected in the points achieved. Remember that no one grade says anything about one’s overall intelligence, personal work ethic or personality. A grade (in this class at least) merely reflects performance on the assignments. Concentrate on developing your understanding of the material and the grades will follow.

Grading Scale

The grading scale below will be used to determine all letter grades in this class, including the final grade. It is completely and without exception a non-negotiable item.

A 100% - 94.5% A- 94.4% - 88.9% B+ 88.8% - 85.2%
B 85.1% - 81.5% B- 81.4% - 77.8% C+ 77.7% - 74.1%
C 74.0% - 70.4% C- 70.3% - 66.7% D+ 66.6% - 63.0%
D 62.9% - 59.3% D- 59.2% - 55.6% E 55.5% - 0%

Syllabus Revisions

The instructor bears the sole responsibility to revise any part of this syllabus should it become necessary to do so. Any such revision that takes place will be announced in class with as much advance notice as the circumstances permit. It is the student’s responsibility to remain abreast of any such changes and to alter his or her own workload accordingly. In the absence of any notification to the contrary, students should follow the course plan and reading schedule as given below, or the most recent set of revisions (if any have been made). The silence of this syllabus on any matter that may arise pertaining to this class shall not be construed to indicate that the matter is up for debate. The instructor’s interpretation of this syllabus shall be final and binding.


Communication

Students are welcome to stop by the instructor’s office anytime. Appointments are only necessary for meetings requested at times other than office hours. The most effective way to reach the instructor outside of office hours is by e-mail. Second best is by office phone. The instructor will make every effort to answer reasonable requests for help with class related matters so long as such requests are respectful. Students should be aware that e-mails sent before 9 AM, after 9 PM, or anytime on Sunday will generally not be answered right away. The same goes for phone calls placed during times other than office hours.


Disability Policy

The Instructor will, by arrangement with the student and Disability Support Services (DSS), offer reasonable accomodation for all properly documented, College-recognized disabilities. DSS offers a variety of services and accommodations to students with disabilities based on appropriate documentation, nature of disability, and academic need. In order to initiate services, students should meet with the Coordinator of DSS at the start of the semester to discuss reasonable accommodations. If a student does not request accommodations or provide documentation to DSS, the faculty member is under no obligation to provide academic accommodations. You may contact the Coordinator of DSS at 313-927-1427 or through e-mail at vkillebrew_@_marygrove.edu


Course Plan

Week 1: Course Introduction

Tues.9/7

Required Reading:

  • Read this syllabus thoroughly.
  • Watch this video:

Required Work: none

Thurs. 9/9

Required Reading: None. There will be a presentation on cultural relativism.
Required Work: none


Week 2

Tues. 9/14

Required Reading: Printout, read, and from now on bring this handout to every class: Arguments and Argumentation: A Quick Introduction
Required Work: visit the TPM website and take the “Philosophical Health Check” prior to attendance. Be ready to discuss your results in class.

Thurs. 9/16

Required Reading: Read all of Chapter 1 in Siderits, pp.1-14
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for Chapter 1. Refer to the guidelines given in this syllabus (under the "assignments" section above) for instructions.

Quiz Zero, on the course syllabus, must be completed online absolutely no later than 12 AM (midnight) on Saturday, September 19.

Quiz Zero is a test of the system and is MANDATORY. I will accept no further work from you in this class until you complete it. We will use Quiz Zero to be certain that the system is configured properly and that you understand the procedure for using it. Because it counts as a regular quiz it's an easy way to get free points too.


Week 3

Tues. 9/21

Required Reading: Read Chapter 2, sections 2.1-2.2 of Siderits, pp. 15-22
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 2.1-2.2

Thurs. 9/23

Required Reading: Read Chapter 2, sections 2.3-end of Siderits, pp. 22-31
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 2.3-2.4


Week 4

Tues. 9/28

No class meeting

Owing to unforseen circumstances I will not be able to hold class today. Of course, that doesn't mean we won't be doing any work! You are still responsible for the following. See below. Note that the instructions have changed slightly…

Required Viewing:

  • Watch this video:


Required Work:
Answer all the Review Questions for the Thurman Video. When you have answered the questions please post them as a reply to the thread I've created for the purpose in the "Discussions" section of the class Blackboard page. Please note that I WILL be responding to your entries there. All complete entries posted by midnight tonight will receive full credit. As usual, late work will not be counted for credit. No paper questions need be turned in on Thursday. Simply proceed according to the syllabus as it is written for Thursday.

Thurs. 9/30

Required Reading: none
Write a short (250-500 words) answer to Core Question 1:

What is the self? How does our thinking about the nature of the self influence our thinking about what constitutes the best life for human beings?

Type or print out your answer on a single sheet of white paper. Handwriting will not be accepted. Write in complete, well-formed sentences of English. Use a readable font of reasonable size, and double-space your lines. Answers will be read and discussed in class. Give your own opinion. Do not use any source other than your own thinking to answer the question.

Quiz 1


Week 5

Tues. 10/5

Required Reading: none, there will be a short presentation on the philosophy of personal identity.

Required Work:

Thurs. 10/7

Required Reading: Read Chapter 3, sections 3.1-3.2 of Siderits, pp. 32-37
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 3.1-3.2


Week 6

Tues. 10/12

Required Reading: Read Chapter 3, section 3.3 of Siderits, pp. 37-46
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 3.3
Argument diagram: The Argument from Impermanence

Thurs. 10/14

Required Reading: Read Chapter 3, sections 3.4-3.5 of Siderits, pp. 46-56
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 3.4-3.5

Quiz 2 must be completed online absolutely no later than 11:45 PM on Sunday, October 17.

The password is: honorable

Please be aware that you may take the quiz only ONCE. If you make multiple attempts, only the first attempt you make will be counted. All attempts after the first will be deleted.


Week 7

Tues. 10/19

Required Reading: Read Chapter 3, sections 3.6-end of Siderits, pp. 56-68
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 3.6-3.8

Thurs. 10/21

Required Reading: Read Chapter 5, section 5.1 of Siderits, pp. 85-92
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 5.1


Week 8

Tues. 10/26

Required Reading: Read Chapter 5, section 5.2 of Siderits, pp. 92-97
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 5.2

Thurs. 10/28

Required Reading: Read Chapter 5, section 5.3 of Siderits, pp. 97-104
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for 5.3

Quiz 3 must be completed online absolutely no later than 11:45 PM on October 31.

The password is purify.

Please be aware that you may take the quiz only ONCE. If you make multiple attempts, ONLY THE FIRST ATTEMPT WILL BE COUNTED. All attempts after the first will be deleted.


Week 9

Tues. 11/2

Required Viewing:

  • Watch these two videos:

Required Work: Write a short (250-500 words) answer to Core Question 2:

Does one have an obligation to cultivate one's own moral character? If you think so, then to whom do you think this obligation is owed? Is it to ourselves? To our parents? To society in general? Perhaps some combination of these? Perhaps to someone or something else? Defend your answer. If you think we do not have an obligation to cultivate our own moral character, then defend that position.

Type or print out your answer on a single sheet of white paper. Handwriting will not be accepted. Write in complete, well-formed sentences of English. Use a readable font of reasonable size, and double-space your lines. Answers will be read and discussed in class. Give your own opinion. Do not use any source other than your own thinking to answer the question.

Thurs. 11/4

Required Reading: Read Ivanhoe, Introduction, pp. ix-xvii
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for the Introduction


Week 10

Tues. 11/9

Instructor absence due to College meeting.

Thurs. 11/11

Required Reading: Read Ivanhoe, Chapter 1: Kongzi, pp. 1-14
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for Kongzi


Week 11

Tues. 11/16 Note: There will be no class meeting on this day.

Required Viewing: Watch the video on Confucius and Confucianism by Harvard University Professor Ron Suleski.
Required Work: Once you've watched the video, please post a reflection of no less than 250 words and no more than 500 words as a reply to the thread I've created for the purpose in the "Discussions" section of the class Blackboard page. In particular, I would like you to deal with two things Suleski says in the Q&A session: (1) "Consensus and democracy are two different things." (2) "You don't have to be Chinese to be Confucian."

Please note that I WILL be monitoring (and where appropriate responding) to your entries there. All complete entries posted by midnight tonight will receive full credit. As usual, late work will not be counted for credit.

NOTE: Do NOT e-mail me your answers/reflections. Do not post them to the thread as attachments. Post them as ordinary responses to the thread! That is the ONLY way to get credit for this assignment!

NOTE ALSO: The Blackboard thread is scheduled to come online after 6 AM on this day.

Thurs. 11/18

Required Reading: Read Ivanhoe, Chapter 2: Mengzi, pp. 15-28
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for Mengzi

Quiz 4 must be completed online absolutely no later than 11:45 PM on November 27.

The password is ethical.

Please be aware that you may take the quiz only ONCE. If you make multiple attempts, ONLY THE FIRST ATTEMPT WILL BE COUNTED. All attempts after the first will be deleted.


Week 12

Tues. 11/23

Owing to unforseen circumstances I will not be able to hold class today.

Thurs. 11/25

Thanksgiving holiday: no class meetings.


Week 13

Tues. 11/30

Required Reading: Read Ivanhoe, Chapter 3: Xunzi, pp. 29-42
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for Xunzi

Thurs. 12/2

Required Reading: Read Ivanhoe, Chapter 4: Zhu Xi, pp. 43-58
Required Work: Answer all of the Review Questions for Zhu Xi

Quiz 5 must be completed online absolutely no later than noon on December 17.

The password is: successful


Week 14

Tues. 12/7 Note: There will be no class meeting on this day.

Required Listening: Daniel Bell, "China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society"
Required Work: Once you've listened to the podcast, please post a reflection of no less than 250 words and no more than 500 words as a reply to the thread I've created for the purpose in the "Discussions" section of the class Blackboard page. In particular, I would like you to address the following points: 1) What do you make of Bell's description of the current state of Confucian thinking in China? 2) How applicable do you think his description of the "new Confuicanism" is globally? Does it, for example, present a viable alternative to "Western" ideas like democracy and human rights?

Please note that I WILL be monitoring your entries there. All complete entries posted by midnight tonight will receive full credit. As usual, late work will not be counted for credit.

NOTE: Do NOT e-mail me your answers/reflections. Please do not post them to thread as attachments either. Post them as ordinary responses to the thread! That is the ONLY way to get credit for this assignment!

NOTE ALSO: The Blackboard thread is scheduled to come online after 6 AM on this day.

Thurs. 12/9

Required Reading: none
Required Work: none
Consider both Core Questions 1 and 2. Write a personal reflection of 250-500 words in length that responds to the questions listed below:

  • Have your answers, your thinking about, or your approach to answering the core questions changed since the course began?
  • If your answers, thinking, or approach changed, how did they change and why?
  • What, for you, has been the personal significance of considering these questions?

Type or print out your answer on a single sheet of white paper. Handwriting will not be accepted. Write in complete, well-formed sentences of English. Use a readable font of reasonable size, and double-space your lines. Answers will be read and discussed in class. Give your own opinion. Do not use any source other than your own thinking to answer the question.

Quiz 6 must be completed online absolutely no later than noon on December 17.

The password is: christmas


Week 15: Exam Week

No class meetings

Quizzes 5 and 6 must be completed online absolutely no later than noon on Friday, December 17. See above for links and passwords.

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