ASIA 250
Scholars, Saints and Immortals: Virtue Ethics in East Asia
Last Offered Fall 2021
Division II
Cross-listed REL 250
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

In East Asian cultures, as in the United States, popular conceptions of morality typically take their shape, not from explicit rules, but from moral paragons–stylized figures that are said to embody a distinctive cluster of virtues. For example, American Christians invoke not only Jesus, but also a pantheon of “secular saints” as diverse as Martin Luther King Jr. and General Patton, George Washington and Cesar Chavez. This course will explore the cultural functions of moral paragons and philosophies of virtue in East Asia by introducing students to examples from Chinese and Japanese history, ranging from Confucian articulations of the ideal scholar-bureaucrat to Buddhist conceptions of the Bodhisattva to Taoist immortals. It will also address the history of ethical thought in East Asia, focusing particular attention on conceptions of “Virtue Ethics.” This approach has come to be seen by some contemporary analytic philosophers as a way out of the impasse produced by ethical relativism and the loss of theological rationales for moral action. Readings will include Euro-American philosophers such as Nietzsche and MacIntyre as well as primary texts in translation by Chuang-tzu, Confucius, Shantideva and others. The fall 2021 iteration of the course will have a special focus with a few additional readings on idealized communities and political “utopias.”
The Class: Format: lecture; discussion
Limit: 30
Expected: 20
Class#: 1779
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation, short writing assignments, midterm, and a self-scheduled final exam
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Religion and Asian Studies majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ASIA 250 Division II REL 250 Division II
Attributes: GBST East Asian Studies
PHIL Related Courses

Class Grid

Updated 10:57 am

Course Catalog Search

(searches Title and Course Description only)



Start Time
End Time