Home Up Syllabus Schedule Classnotes




Fall 2006

Syllabus Schedule Classnotes

Instructor: Dr. Bo Mou

Time & Place: 

  • Section 1: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30 - 11:45; BBC 205

  • Section 2: Tuesday & Thursday, 13:30 - 14:45; DMH 208

Office Hours:                            

  • Regular Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 12:45 - 13:15 and 15:00 - 16:00

  • If you are unable to make these times, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you.

  • Extra office hours will be arranged before each of midterm and final exams.

Office: FO 225

Phone: (408) 924-4513




Required Textbooks:

  • Bo Mou compiled: Course Package [CP].
  • Bo Mou ed.: Comparative Approaches to Chinese Philosophy (Ashgate, 2003) [CACP].
  • Sue Hamilton: Indian Philosophy (Oxford, 2001) [IP]

Course Description:

This course presents an examination of some central ideas of Yijing (I Ching) philosophy, Confucianism, philosophical Daoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Zen/Chan Buddhism in Asian philosophical traditions. There are three emphases in our examination. (1) We emphasize appreciation of distinct ways of thinking and methodological approaches so as to develop a critical and balanced mind and to cultivate a capacity to look at things from a broad and dynamic perspective. (2) We emphasize appreciation of some representative and distinct ideas and visions in Asian philosophy and their historical and cultural contexts in which they changed and developed over time when facing internal and external challenges/pressures so as to achieve new visions and perspectives and to expand our understanding of the world and human life. (3) We take a comparative approach by which those Asian philosophical thoughts will be constructively compared with each other or with some thoughts in Western philosophy so as to appreciate how they can distinctively, but jointly in a compatible way, contribute to dealing with some philosophically important issues and concerns.

As an Area V course in your General Education requirements, this course has three learning objectives: first, it will enable students “to compare systematically the ideas and values…from different societies” through a comparative approach as emphasized in (3) above; second, it will enable students “to identify the historic context of ideas and cultural practices in their dynamic relations to other historical contexts” through the way as emphasized in (2) above; third, it will enable students “to explain how a cultural changes in response to internal and external pressures” through the way as emphasized in (2) and (3) above.

This course have four performance objectives: (1) to develop the ability to enter and appreciate ways of thinking and perspectives that may be quite different from what you have already had; (2) to achieve new visions and perspectives for dealing philosophically with the important issues and values in the contemporary multi-cultural world; (3) to enhance understanding of how Asian philosophical traditions bear on Asian-American cultural traditions and American culture and society; and (4) to improve the ability to read and think critically and creatively and to write clearly and effectively.

Prerequisite: Completion of core GE, satisfaction of Writing Skills Test and upper division standing.

Instruction Format: Lecture, class discussion, and small group discussion.

Course Requirements:

  • Class participation: 10% 

  • One In-Class Philosophical Writing Exercise: CR/NC 

  • First Paper: 15% (due 9/28)

  • First Midterm Exam: 15% (10/12)

  • Second Midterm Exam: 15% (11/2)

  • Second Paper: 20% (due 11/21)

  • Final Exam: 25%. Section 1: 12/12; Section 1: 12/13


Advanced General Education courses require a minimum of 3000 words of writing, including in-class and out-of-class assignments. Each student is thus required to write: (i) two papers (total 8-10 typewritten double-spaced pages with 1 inch margin and font size 12-- about 250 words each page), (ii) in-class writings for the three examinations (equivalent to 4-5 pages total), and (iii) one in-class philosophical writing exercise will involve 1 to 2 pages.

·         The In-Class Philosophical Writing Exercise: This writing exercise shall be assigned during the early phase of the semester. It serves for the diagnostic purpose about the students’ levels of ability to think critically and to write clearly and effectively.

·         The first paper

The first paper assignment is intended for the students to learn how to write philosophy papers. Each student is required to select one philosophical article either from the anthology volume Comparative Approaches to Chinese Philosophy or from the journals Philosophy East and West and International Philosophical Quarterly in the last three years (2004, 2005 and 2006). (The two journals are available at SJSU library) The topic of the chosen article must be directly related to a certain Asian philosophical thought that is covered in the course. The student needs to do the following critical analysis: (i) present the thesis and its supporting argument(s) made by its author; (ii) give a reflective/critical response to the thesis and argument(s); (iii) indicate what has been learned through this scholarly exercise regarding, generally speaking, how to write a philosophy paper. The first paper should be around 3 - 4 pages. (If you choose an article from the two journal, then, when you submit the first paper, please attach a copy of the article; the copy will be returned to you.)

·         The second paper

      This is the main philosophical writing of each student. The topic will be assigned three weeks before the due date. The paper should show use of library resources (e.g., books or journal articles) through making at least two citations in the text and giving their full references in endnotes. It should be around 5 – 6 pages.

·         For how to write philosophy papers, see “Some Suggestions for Writing Philosophy Papers” in Course Package.

·         Writing will be assessed for correctness, clarity and conciseness.

      The submitted papers need to be typed and double-spaced and are due in hard copy in class-meeting time.

·         Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is wrong. Never turn in another person’s work as your own and never present material taken directly from a book, journal or the Internet without putting quote marks around it and giving an endnote crediting the author.


Both midterm and final exams will combine multiple choice, short answer questions and essay questions except that students will have two hours to complete the final exam. The instructor will supply a study guide a week before each of the exams. 

Late Papers and Missed Assignments

Papers that are one class session late will be demoted 5%; papers that are later will receive a 10% cut. Exceptions are made if you have a doctor’s note or if you have been given a prior extension. Students who miss a mid-term will need a serious excuse (e.g., a doctor’s note) and to schedule a make-up exam.

Class Participation

The student’s active class participation consists of the following: (i) Attending scheduled classes regularly (two bonus points will be given for perfect attendance; one bonus point will be given for only-one-class-missing attendance); (ii) Asking questions in class or volunteering answers to philosophical questions raised by classmates or instructors; (iii) Being active in group discussions; and (iv) earnestly finishing mini in-class presentation assignments and a master in-class presentation at “Discussion Forum” on Nov. 30 and Dec. 5.

Help from Mike Schmidt Philosophy Center

You are encouraged to visit Mike Schmidt Philosophy Center (FO 231; 924-4466) where graduate students of philosophy on duty shall be glad to help you with advice about philosophical writings (criticism and construction of arguments and explanation). You can bring in your philosophical writings for comments before you submit them.