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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Social & Behavioral Sciences • Philosophy

Asian Philosophy PHIL-220

  • Spring 2013
  • Section 01
  • 3.0 Credits
  • 08/27/2012 to 12/20/2012
  • Modified 01/12/2013

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Edward Kaitz

Office Hours

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM, LKH 229
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, LKH 229
  • Monday, Wednesday, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM, LKH 229

Meeting Times


  • Tuesday, Thursday, 10:30 AM to 11:45 AM, LKH 245



Asian Philosophy

  • Author: Baird & Heimbeck, eds.
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Edition: 2006
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

Selected Political Writings: Mahatma Gandhi

  • Author: Dennis Dalton, ed.
  • Publisher: Hackett
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

The Art of War

  • Author: Sun Tzu
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore

Red Azalea

  • Author: Anchee Min
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • Edition: 2006
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore


1. Read, interpret, and explain classic and modern texts in the Asian philosophical tradition with a focus on the traditions of India, China, and Japan.


2. Identify and explain the major metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political, religious, and cultural themes in the Asian philosophical tradition, with an additional focus on conceptions of human nature.


3. Gain an appreciation for the diversity of thought within and across cultures in the Asian philosophical tradition.


4. Understand how ideas in the Asian tradition have affected Asian history, culture, politics, and religious institutions.


5. Understand the impact the Asian philosophical tradition is having on Western philosophy and culture.



Grading Structure:

There will be four take-home essay exams - 3 midterms and a final.   Each exam will consist of six short-essay type questions – answers must be typed, single-spaced, and about ½ page in length for each question.  In addition, an 8 page paper (typed, double-spaced, 1.0” margins) will be due at the end of the semester on a topic of the student’s choice relevant to the material covered during the course.  Also, at the end of selected weeks a take home quiz will be given consisting of several questions that address the week’s readings.  The total number of points possible will be divided into the student's total score thus determining the grade.

Course Policies

Course Policies

Course Policies:

1) Please arrive to class on time. 2) Please do not carry on conversations with your neighbor during lecture (questions, comments and discussion are normal for a course like this but make sure to listen carefully during lecture).  3) Please turn off cell phones, ipods, etc. before entering the classroom. Please do not bring laptops to class.  4) Please do not leave class during lecture.  5) Please use the restroom before class and before exams.  Thanks!


1/15   General Introduction, Historical Background to India:   Reading Assignment: p. 3-8 Baird & Heimbeck

(Our introductory lecture will examine the historical background to Indian culture and philosophy, beginning with the indigenousIndusValleycivilization and its relationship with the invading Aryan culture.  In addition, we will discuss the some of the major early themes in Hindu philosophy as they pertain to ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology.)

1/17-1/24   Upanishads: Reading Assignment: p. 9-82 Baird & Heimbeck

(We will begin a thorough investigation of the beginnings of Hindu philosophy by examining the sacred Upanishads, which constitute some of the deepest speculation in Hindu thought regarding the essence of human nature, individual self-control through yoga, illusion & reality, ethical behavior, liberation and religious devotion)

1/29-2/7   Heterodox Alternatives: Dhammapada, Diamond Sutra: Reading Assignment: p. 83-130 Baird & Heimbeck: (midterm) 

(This portion of the course will examine the Buddhist reaction to Hindu philosophy and society.  We will do a through reading of the Buddhist classics Dhammapada and Diamond Sutra in order to investigate the Buddha’s claims about God, morality, reality, self-mastery, and the psychological desire for security and permanence.  We’ll also discuss the ways Buddhism branched into various perspectives on the nature of reality and the effective forms of human liberation.)

2/12-2/21  Orthodox Perspectives: Bhagavad-Gita; Patanjali: Yoga Sutras: Reading Assignment: p. 135-199 Baird & Heimbeck

(We will be examining the various ways Hindu philosophers reacted to the Buddhist challenge by discussing the Epic writings Mahabharata and Ramayana, the six philosophical systems of Sankhya, Yoga, Vaisesika, Nyaya, Mimamsa, and Vedanta, and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  Most importantly we’ll do a thorough reading of the “Hindu Bible” Bhagavad-Gita, which contains in and elegant and exciting dialogue the summary philosophy of the Epics, Six Philosophical Systems, Yoga Sutras and Upanishads)

2/26-3/7  Western Encounters – India: Gandhi, Aurobindo: Reading Assignment:p. 228-230; 231-268 (selections); 269-277 Baird & Heimbeck; Gandhi’s Political Writings. (midterm) 

(We will finish our investigation of Hindu philosophy by investigating the writings ofIndia’s most famous modern philosophers, Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo.  Gandhi’s political writings provide a window into his mature philosophical thought on morality, international affairs, religion, gender, government, wealth, and personal responsibility.  Aurobindo will provide us with insights into Hindu philosophy, history, culture, relations with the West, progress, and most importantly, into the full development of yoga.)

3/12-3/19    Confucian Origins: Confucius, Mencius: Reading Assignment: p. 281-359 (selections) Baird & Heimbeck

(We will begin our investigation of Chinese philosophy by examining ancient Chinese history, dynastic change, warfare, and the early philosophical themes that informed great thinkers like Confucius and Mencius.  We will also read and reflect on a large portion of Confucius’ Analects and the Book of Mencius.  Our discussion will center on the Confucian understanding of human nature, ethics, politics, manners, family relationships, economics and most importantly, harmony with the Tao)

3/21-4/9    Taoist Alternatives: Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu: Reading Assignment: p. 361-432 (selections) Baird & Heimbeck

(In this portion of the course we will examine another highly influential attempt inChinato access the “Tao.”  We will read the great Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu and his Tao Te Ching, and Lao Tzu’s most brilliant later follower Chuang Tzu.  Both thinkers will help us understand Taoist approaches to politics, warfare, family relationships, wealth, character, morality, reality, and most importantly, living well)

4/16-4/18   Sun Tzu: The Art of War; Han Fei Tzu and Statecraft: Reading Assignment: The Art of War, Sun Tzu; Han Fei Tzu, Han Fei Tzu: (midterm) 

(We will take a look at highly influential Chinese perspectives on warfare and statecraft.  We will read both the Art of War by Sun Tzu and portions of Han Fei Tzu’s treatise on statecraft.  Sun Tzu will apply a more Taoist approach to warfare while Han Fei Tzu will embody the more authoritarian tradition in Chinese philosophy regarding his advice to the ruler.  We’ll also note connections between Han Fei Tzu and the later Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli).

4/23    Buddhist Innovations: Hui Neng  Reading Assignment: p. 439-443, p. 474-491, Baird & Heimbeck;

(In this part of the course we will examine the journey of Buddhism from Indiato Chinaand the various ways Buddhist philosophy was expressed in Chinaafter the 4th century A.D.  Most importantly we’ll read the foundational text for Zen Buddhism, the Platform Scripture, and investigate the philosopher Hui Neng’s attempt to outline the essence of Buddhist thought in a Chinese setting)

4/25    Japanese Buddhism and Zen (Saicho through Basho): Reading Assignment: Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North; Dogen Moon in a Dewdrop (handouts)

(We will trace the movement of Buddhism fromChinato Japan, discussing such influential Japapnese Buddhists as Saicho, Kukai, Kuya, Shinran, Nichiren, Dogen, Hakuin, and Matsuo Basho.  We’ll discuss the Japanese cultural and political context and then discuss Dogen’s classic work on Zen, Moon in a Dewdrop.  In addition we’ll read portions of Basho’s writings and show the relationship between Zen Buddhism inJapanand Haiku poetry.)

The Chinese Enlightenment: Huang Tsung-Hsi: Reading Assignment: Waiting for the Dawn (handout selections)

(We will take some time to look at a fascinating early modern Chinese philosopher, Huang Tsung-Hsi, who, although in many cases is neglected, had a tremendous effect on Chinese thinkers who favored a more tempered and limited approach to political rule.  Huang will help us to understand that inChinathere was a movement toward what European philosophers call an “Enlightenment” with regard to politics, society, and progress)

4/30-5/7   Western Encounters: Mao Tse Tung, Anchee Min: Reading Assignment: p. 541-566 Baird & Heimbeck; Anchee Min, Red Azalea

(In the final portion of our course we will take a look at someone who disparaged much of Chinese philosophy in favor of a more Western, Marxist approach: Mao Tse Tung.  We’ll read portions of Mao’s writings on politics, society, economics, and class struggle.  In addition, we’ll read a moving account of one woman’s attempt to survive during Mao’s nightmarish “cultural revolution” – Red Azalea by Anchee Min)

5/9     Moving the Mountain (Video); Final Exam Passed Out

(Our class will end with a presentation of the chilling documentary “Moving the Mountain” which is an account of the student protest for political participation in China at Tiananmen Square  in 1989.  The film will help us understand the effects of liberal western thinking on modern Chinese thought beyond the Maoist approach)

5/16                           Take Home Final Exam Due/Final Paper Due


Additional Items

Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints:

Over the years, the best way I’ve found for students to get the most out of a course like this is to do the following: 1) Come to class and try not to miss any class if possible, 2) Take really good notes on the lectures.  Also, some students find it really effective to write notes in their books next to the passages that we are discussing.  3) Make sure to ask questions in class if there is something you would like me to repeat or explain.  4) Please come to my office hours!!!

Division Policies

For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please ferfer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Dishonesty
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College. These violations include the following:

Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.
Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Plagiarism: knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in an academic exercise.
Violation of Intellectual Property: stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources,materials, or official documents of the college. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject.

North Idaho College, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provides both services and accommodations to students who meet the guidelines provided in these acts.  For a complete description, please see:

Please contact the North Idaho College Center for Educational Access in Seiter Hall, Room 100 for assistance.  Phone:  208-769-5947

To withdraw from all courses a student must obtain a college withdrawal form from the Registrar's Office, secure the signatures of those persons indicated on the form, and return the form to the Registrar's office. No student may withdraw from the college after the final date of withdrawal from courses except for compelling and extraordinary reasons. In such circumstances a student must petition the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee for late withdrawal from college using the college withdrawal form available in the Registrar's Office.


For complete information regarding student withdrawals, please see the North Idaho College Policy 5.04.01: 

Institutional Policies

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct applies to any student enrolled at North Idaho College.  This includes, but is not limited to, face-to-face classes and Internet classes.

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes:

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, Edminster Student Union Building, (208) 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, (208) 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

REMOVAL FROM CLASS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  Attendance is based on your participation in this class. Failure to attend may result in your being removed from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of your attendance record.