East Asian Philosophy

You are to choose one (1) of the following topics for your term paper. The topic options cover both the geographical and the thematic scope of the course with a view to allowing you to focus on the parts of the course that interest you the most. Each topic option has an interpretive part, which asks you to say something about the philosophical position of a figure in a primary historical source, and an evaluative part, which asks you to offer a reasoned judgment of that philosophical position.

The secondary source interpretation of that position indicated in the option you choose (regardless of whether the secondary source is a recent interpretation, e.g. Goodman, or a more ancient interpretation,
e.g. Shankara) can be incorporated in either or both of these parts.

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Note: Options I-IV use sources from South Asian philosophy and
Options V-VIII use sources from East Asian philosophy.

Option I What ethical position does Yama propose in the Katha
Upanishad? Do you agree or disagree with this position and why? In
your paper, discuss the connection that Shankara draws between this
ethical position and the nature of the self in his interpretation of the
chariot analogy.

Option II What ethical position does Yama propose in the Katha
Upanishad? Do you agree or disagree with this position and why? In
your paper, compare Yama’s ethical position with one (1) of the
following ethical theories discussed in Goodman 2009:
consequentialism, hedonism, deontology or virtue ethics.

Option III What theory of self does Buddha propose in the setting the Dharma Wheel in Motion and Characteristic of Nonself discourses? Do you agree or disagree with this theory and why? In your paper,
discuss the connection that Shantideva draws between this theory of self and the ethical significance of suffering in his interpretation of the bodhisattva ideal.

Option IV What ethical position does Buddha propose in the Setting the
Dharma Wheel in Motion; and Characteristic of Nonself Do you agree or disagree with this position and why? In your paper, compare this ethical position with one (1) of the following ethical theories discussed in Goodman 2009: consequentialism, hedonism, deontology
or virtue ethics.

Option V What ethical position does Zhuangzi propose in Section 2:
Discussion on Making All Things Equal Do you agree or disagree with
this position and why? In your paper, discuss the conceptual
relationship between Zhuangzi’s ethical position and the Confucian
notion of goodness (ren) described in the Analects.

Option VI What theory of self does Zhuangzi propose in Section 2:
Discussion on Making All Things Equal Do you agree or disagree with
this theory and why? In your paper, compare Zhuangzi’s theory with one
(1) of the following conceptions of self discussed in Ivanhoe 2017:
psychological, dualistic, extended or biological.

Option VII What theory of self does Linji propose in the Record of Linji
Discourses X and XII? Do you agree or disagree with this theory and
why? In your paper, discuss the conceptual relationship between Linji’s
theory of self and the Mahayana Buddhist notion of non-duality
described in the Lankavatara Sutra.

Option VIII What theory of self does Linji propose in the Record of Linji
Discourses X and XXII? Do you agree or disagree with this theory and
why? In your paper, compare Linji’s theory with one (1) of the following
conceptions of self discussed in Ivanhoe 2017: psychological, dualistic,
extended or biological.

The term paper must make an argument with the following parts in
approximately 2000 words:

Introduction: states the main argument and explains how it will be
argued;
Interpretive Sub-Argument: interprets the meaning of a primary source
and provides textual evidence from a primary source to support this
interpretation;
Evaluative Sub-Argument: evaluates the significance of a primary
source and provides persuasive reasons to support this evaluation;
Conclusion: re-states the main argument and its significance.
Bibliography: lists all sources viewed for preparation and cited in this
paper.

Note: No paper can be accepted without a bibliography. The citation
format is flexible, so long as references include page numbers where
appropriate and online sources are listed with functioning URLs. If you
do not already know a citation style, you can refer to the Chicago
Manual of Style Quick Guide to use its simple author-date format.

EVALUATION
Every successful term paper for this course will demonstrate the skills of argumentation, interpretation and critique, as explained and trained in the workshops and assignment rubric. Please come up with your own reasons for agreeing & disagreeing an argument (In addition to the reasons based on secondary sources).

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