ASIA 215
Foundations of Confucian Thought Spring 2023
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed REL 295 / ASIA 215 / CHIN 215

Class Details

How should people treat each other? What constitutes human nature and does it tend towards good or evil? How should we organize society, by focusing on laws and regulations, or on ritual and moral guidance? What is the nature of moral rulership? What is the proper relationship between the individual and larger units of society, from the family to the state? These are some of the key questions that the school of thought that has come to be known as “Confucianism” addresses. As the dominant moral and political philosophy for thousands of years in much of East Asia, Confucianism has shaped our world, past and present, in innumerable ways. In this class we will focus on the foundational texts of the Confucian tradition: the Analects (purported to record the words of Confucius himself), the Mengzi (often romanized as “Mencius”), the writings of Xunzi, and the Classic of Filial Piety. Beyond those questions noted above, we will further examine how these texts construct their arguments; how they were first composed, compiled, and circulated; how they employ such key concepts as “humaneness” (ren), “moral power” (de), and “ritual propriety” (li); and how they functioned as part of the larger philosophical, linguistic, political, and historical context that we now think of as “early China.”
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 15
Class#: 3078
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation is based on 4 short papers (3-4 pages each), one longer final paper (10-12 pages), and participation in class discussions.
Prerequisites: None.
Enrollment Preferences: Enrollment priority goes to current or prospective majors in the Department of Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; current or prospective Asian Studies concentrators; and Religion majors.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 295 Division II ASIA 215 Division I CHIN 215 Division I
WS Notes: Writing will include 4 short papers (3-4 pages) that will involve drafts, feedback and revision, and one longer final paper of 10-12 pages that will involve close consultation with the instructor during the writing process.
DPE Notes: Throughout the course we will examine how these texts deal with issues of differentials of power, both political and social, in a range of contexts. In particular, we will discuss how these texts conceptualize political and social power and how they see hierarchy functioning in both beneficial and deleterious ways in society.

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