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Instructor: Dr. Bo Mou

Time & Place: Monday & Wednesday: 15:00  – 16:15; SH238

Office Hours: (1) Regular Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 18:30 – 19:30. (2) If you are unable to make these times, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you. (3) Extra office hours will be arranged before each of midterm and final exams.

Office: FO 225

Phone: (408) 924-4513



Required Textbooks:

·        Course Reader [CR].

·        Daniel Bonevac: Worldly Wisdom (Mayfield, 2001) [WW].

Course Description:

This upper division course presents a comparative examination of Eastern philosophy (including the Yi-Jing philosophy, Confucianism, philosophical Daoism, Buddhist thought) and Western philosophy (including Greek philosophy, contemporary Western philosophy, etc.) around some perennial issues and concerns, investigating how they could jointly contribute to the common philosophical enterprise in some complementary and philosophically interesting ways.  In the Spring 2004 class, we focus on the issue of philosophical methodology and some central issues and concerns in epistemology. The emphasis is on how those thinkers under discussion from the distinct traditions and from distinct strands within one tradition could jointly contribute to our understanding and approach to those issues concerns in some philosophically interesting ways.

The course has three objectives: (1) to develop the capacity to think critically, to look at things in a broad and dynamic way, and to apply philosophical methods to deal with some philosophically important issues and intellectual problems; (2) to appreciate how distinct views and insights from different philosophical traditions can make joint contribution to dealing with some philosophically important issues and concerns; (3) to develop the ability to enter and appreciate ways of thinking and perspectives that may be quite different from what students have already had.

Prerequisite: 3 units of philosophy or upper division standing.

Instruction Format: Lecture and class discussion.

Course Requirements:

Regular attendance, timely and careful completion of reading-assignments prior to their lecture or discussion in class, earnest fulfillment of written assignments, and active participation in discussion are expected for the effective learning process.

      (1)  Class participation: 15%

      (2)  First Midterm Exam: 15% (3/3)

      (3)  Second Midterm Exam: 20% (4/26)

      (4)  Term Paper: 25% (due 5/17)

      (5) Final Exam: 25% (5/25)

Class Participation

(1) 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).

(2) Being active in class discussions.

(3) Three in-class presentations on assigned discussion topics: 3% x 3 = 9%; for each presentation, a one-page handout needs to be prepared for the class attendants.


Two midterm exams will combine multiple choice, short answer questions and essay questions; the instructor will supply a study guide a week before each of the midterm exams. Final exam is taken in the form of take-home exam, due on May 25 by noontime.

Term Paper

This is the main philosophical writing of each student. A number of due paper topics will be assigned as the semester proceeds; you can choose any one of them. 6-8 typewritten, double-spaced pages with 1 inch margin and font size 12 (about 250 words each page), due in hard copy on the last class meeting (5/17).

Late or Missed Assignments

Assignments that are one class session late will be demoted 5% of their points; those 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.

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.



Phil120 / Spring 2004




          Reading Assignments

Feb. 2 (M)




Part I  Philosophy and Philosophical Methods


Feb. 4 (W)

A Framework of How to Look at Different Approaches

The material handed out in class

Feb. 9 (M)

Nature and Function of Philosophy:

Russell and Fung on Philosophy

CR: I-1, 2

Feb. 11 (W)

Socrates’s and Confucius’s Methodological Approaches in Dialogue (1)

CR: I-3; WW: 2-4, 36-45

Feb.16 (M)

Socrates’s and Confucius’s Methodological Approaches in Dialogue (2)

CR: I-4; WW: 45-48, 329-336

Feb. 18 (W)

The Yin-Yang and Hegelian Models of Interaction (1)

CR: I-5

Feb. 23 (M)

The Yin-Yang and Hegelian Models of Interaction (2)

CR: I-6

Feb. 25 (W)

Two Modes of Argumentations

WW: 36-56

March 1 (M)

Philosophy and Comparative Philosophy

CR: I-7, 8, 9

March 3 (W)

First Midterm



Part II  Knowledge, Skepticism, and Truth


March 8 (M)

Skepticism (1): Pyrrhonian Skepticism

CR: II-10; WW: 82-84

March 10 (W)

Skepticism (2): Hume’s Skepticism and Descartes’s Skepticism

CR: II-11, 13 (1st Meditation); WW: 96-98;

March 15 (M)

Skepticism (3): Zhuangzi’s Skepticism

CR: Selections from II-18; WW: 75-80

March 17 (W)

Scientific-Oriented Approaches to Knowledge (1): Plato on Knowledge; Decartes’s Rationalist Approach

CR: II-12, 13 (2nd and 3rd Meditations);

WW: 66-71, 98-99, 112-123

March 22 (M)

Scientific-Oriented Approaches to Knowledge (2):  Locke’s and Hume’s Empirical Approach

CR: II-11, 14; WW: 124-135

March 24 (W)

Scientific-Oriented Approaches to Knowledge (3): Kant’s Approach

CR: II-15; WW: 135-146

Spring Recess: March 29 – April 2

April 5 (M)

Humanistic-oriented Approaches to Knowledge (1): Daoist Approach

CR: Selections from II-17 and 18

April 7 (W)

Humanistic-oriented Approaches to Knowledge (2): Buddhist Approach

CR: II-19

April 12 (M)

Humanistic-oriented Approaches to Knowledge (3): Wang Yangming’s Approach

CR: II-20

April 16 (W)

Humanistic-oriented Approaches to Knowledge (3): Feminist Approach

CR: II-21

April 19 (M)

Attempts to Synthesize (1): Some Modern Chinese Thinkers’ Approaches

CR: II-22, 23

April 21 (W)

Attempts to Synthesize (2): Lewis’s Approach

Review for 2nd Midterm

CR: II-24

April 26 (M)

Second Midterm


April 28 (W)

Truth and Dao (1): “Correspondence” Approach

CR: II-25; WW: 9-13

May 3 (M)

Truth and Dao (2): “Coherence” Approach; “Pragmatic” Approach

CR: II-26, 27; WW: 13-20

May 5 (W)

Truth and Dao (3): Tarski’s Approach

CR: II-28; WW: 7-9

May10 (M)

Truth and Dao (4): Truth-concern and Chinese Philosophy

CR: II-29, 30

May 12 (W)

Truth and Dao (5): On Truth-concern and Dao-concern


May 17 (M)

Term Paper Due; Review for Final


May 25 (Tue)

Final Examination

12:15 – 14:30

Note:                                                                                                                                                          The above schedule is for guidance only and may change in the event of extenuating circumstances.