Through a critical reading of translations of original philosophical texts and secondary studies of those texts, this course will cover the major transitions in philosophical thinking in ancient and classical India. The first phase will consider shifts from the early Vedic mythological/ritualistic thinking to mysticism of the Upanishads. The second phase will cover the protestant philosophical views found in Buddhism, Jainism and the so-called Heretics. The third phase will discuss the emergence of theism in the Bhagavad-Gita. Lastly, the course will cover the emergence of logical/rational thinking in the different systems of Hindu philosophy. The aim of the course is to help students to figure out why and how the philosophical texts say what they say, and to place these texts in a socio-historical and philosophical context.
Grades will be based on two term papers (40 points each) and class participation (20 points). Each paper should deal with a specific philosophical issue and should be based on a careful reading of at least five sources that must be listed at the end of the paper. The paper topic, a one page outline, and bibliography need to be approved by the professor one month before the paper is submitted. It should not exceed 10 pages and be divided into sub-sections with sub-headings. All quotations must be provided with specific reference to the source (e.g. Basham p. 15). The papers are expected to be an informed presentation of a philosophical topic based on a reading of the courses. Class participation will be graded on the basis of class presentations and class attendance. For each class, the students are required to bring a one page of the highlights of the previous class discussion, and questions that the student would like discussed in class.
This course is intended for undergraduate students interested in philosophical thinking within the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. As such it should appeal to students interested in religions of Asia and philosophy in general.
3 hours per week in lecture format