Asian Philosophy

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHL 215

       Course Name: Asian Philosophy

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces selected philosophical themes from historical and contemporary sources based in one or more of the following broad traditions: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Islamic, Jewish, Southeast Asian.  IAI H4 903N

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Clearly re-state some of the important concepts and philosophical problems in at least one of the traditions mentioned above.
  2. Explain some of the important relations between different philosophical traditions, both eastern and western, and will be able to articulate critiques of an east-west distinction in philosophy.
  3. Provide a sketch of the cultural and social contexts within which philosophical questions and answers are articulated.
  4. Identify and provide an analysis of different types of philosophical argument.
  5. Apply Asian philosophical ideas and theories to contemporary ethical, political and scientific issues.
  6. Incorporate ideas from the class into a discussion of a philosophical and ethical outlook that informs their own lives.
  7. Explain the important contributions of Asian philosophical traditions to global thought and culture.
  8. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

This class may take either a topical or historical approach.  The outline that follows is a sample.  Classes need not include all the material listed below, and classes may focus on Asian cultures and philosophers not listed below.

  1. Indian philosophy
    1.   The Vedic Period…Selections from the Upanishads
    2.   The Epic Period…Selections from the Bhagavad Gita
    3.   Contemporary treatments of classical themes: Radhakrishnan, Daya Krishna, J.N. Mohanty, B.K. Mattilal
    4.   Responses to colonialism…Gandhi, Aurobindo, Iqbal
  2. Buddhist philosophy
    1. Classical Buddhist thought
    2. The Middle Way…Selections from Nagarjuna
    3. Zen: Selections from Dogen, Suzuki
    4. Buddhist political thought (Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh)
  3. Chinese philosophy
    1.  The legacy of Confucius…Selections from the Analects and the Mencius
    2.  Taoism…Selections from Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu
    3. The utilitarian challenge of Mo Tzu…Selections from "Universal Love"
    4. Recent developments in Confucian, Neo-Confucian and Taoist thought.
    5. The challenge of modernity: Sun-Yat Sen and Mao Zedong.
  4. West Asian/Arab philosophy
    1. Islamic Theology (kalam) in the classical period
    2. The relationship with Greek thought and its development in classical Islamic  philosophy
    3. The challenge to philosophy from al-Ghazali
    4. Mystical thought in Islam
    5. Debates about modernity and tradition in recent Islamic thought

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  1. Lectures and discussion
  2. Small group work
  3. Films
  4. Guest speakers

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

(Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc. The following are sample topics you may wish to cover. Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester. These may be assigned in a variety of ways including journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.)

  1. Attendance
  2. Standards for written work
  3. Quizzes/Exams
  4. Participation
  5. Essays
  6. Final Project
  7. Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Texts such as:  A Sourcebook of Asian Philosophy edited by John and Patricia Koller,  Asian Philosophies by John and Patricia Koller, Sources of Chinese Tradition (2 vols), Sources of Indian Tradition (2 vols), A Sourcebook of Classical Chinese Philosophy edited by Ivanhoe, A Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy edited by Radhakrishnan.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown of their final grade. The writing assignments should count for at least 40% of the final grade. An example follows.)

  1. Quizzes/Exams……40 points
  2. Essays……40 points
  3. Final project with oral presentation……10 points
  4. Attendance and participation………10 points
  5. Grading scale: 90-100, A…….80-89, B………70-79, C……….60-69……..D

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
  • Office number and office hours:
  • Phone number:
  • Email and website:

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.