RELS 308 East Asian Religions

The intellectual history of China, indeed of all of East Asia, is rhetorically dominated by Ruism, Daoism, and Buddhism. In this class we will read and discuss some foundational classics of each of these ideologies. Our time will be divided equally among the three, spending five weeks on each. First we will read Confucius' Analects, then short excerpts from the Meng Zi and Xun Zi, the two most famous Ruist works of the following few centuries. Second, we will read the Lao Zi and the Zhuang Zi. These delightful narratives are the two best known works of philosophical Daoism, and are often portrayed as the passive/feminine yin to Ruism's aggressive/masculine yang. Last, we will read the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen. While Buddhism began as an Indian religion, Zen is a decidedly Chinese take on it. All three of these traditions have had a great influence on the social, political, literary, and artistic cultures of East Asia. Even now they continue to present us with historically resonant yet contemporarily relevant personal visions of the human condition situated within a vast and mysterious cosmos.

Download syllabus back to course list