Course Number: PHIL 565
Instructor: S. Timalsina
Time: TH 4:00 – 6:40 SH 248
Office: Arts and Letters 638
Office Hours: Th 12:00-2:00
Although the course is titled ‘Asian Philosophy,’ the focus of this course will be Indian Philosophies, my area of studies. Through a survey of the history of philosophical thought in India in classical times, this course examines ontological and epistemological categories found in the discourse among the major Indian philosophical schools. In addition to exploring the origins of the philosophical schools in India, this course also addresses key philosophical questions covering metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical issues as they have been formulated in India. This course provides material relevant to students who are also interested in comparative philosophy and Indian religions.
India and the history of philosophy, varieties of Hindu philosophy, Buddhist philosophy in India, perception, consciousness and the body, creation and causality, philosophy in a post-colonial world, Advaita metaphysics, and Indian theories of error and the levels of existence.
To understand the role philosophy plays in culture and to improve multicultural literacy;
To become familiar with the use of level-appropriate, specialist, philosophical terminology;
To be able to discuss the basic philosophical concepts of major Indian philosophical traditions and begin to engage in comparative studies;
To interpret philosophical issues and texts critically;
To improve reading, oral, and written communication skills; and
To understand philosophy in a cross-cultural context.
To be able to compare philosophical traditions academically;
To be able to explore the interrelated nature of philosophical issues in a cross-cultural context;
To use the appropriate vocabulary for academic discussion of the philosophical traditions of India;
To develop historical and comparative perspectives on philosophy;
To utilize a critical perspective concerning the role of philosophical thinking in the modern world; and
To be able to recognize common tendencies of philosophical thinking in diverse philosophical traditions.
Richard King. Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought, Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1999.
J. N. Mohanty. Classical Indian Philosophy. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2000.
In addition to these texts, I will post various articles and book chapters on the blackboard. The required readings are listed in the weekly assignments. These postings are integral to the required reading.
General Guidelines and Expectations:
Demonstrated completion of required readings
Effective Classroom participation
Internet access; unless specifically directed otherwise, you must submit your papers electronically.
You must ensure that your correct address is on Blackboard
Computer and Internet Access Requirement
You are required to have an active, working email account. Please note that HOTMAIL accounts are NOT compatible with BLACKBOARD, and you should create a university ROHAN account. See:
Weekly Postings (hardcopy and electronic submission mandatory) 70 Points
[You are expected to submit one posting (500 words) per week, not exceeding 14 postings in total. Friday is the deadline for submitting your weekly assignments, except for the first week (the deadline is Sunday, January 23).]
In-Class Presentations, active participation 30 Points
[In every in-class presentation, you come with two weekly assignments in general. Everybody will have equal opportunity to present his/her assignments. If you do not have your paper on hand, you will lose the presentation credit, even if you have already submitted your paper online.]
Short Term Paper 40 Points
[2,000 words. Deadline: February 20, 2010]
Long Term Paper 60 Points
[4,000 words. Deadline: May 14, 2010]
Specific Guidelines for Papers:
You have to read at least two books or five research articles for the first term paper.
You have to double your research materials for your final paper.
Argumentative papers receive higher credit than do merely descriptive papers.
Your essay needs to be footnoted and with references at the end of the essay.
You have to follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
Your essays need to be original. There will be consequences for plagiarism following the SDSU rules and regulations.
Specific Guidelines for Discussions and Postings:
Every week, you will engage in discussions on various topics. I will give you some questions or issues to discuss in class, based on the readings for that week. During the discussion time, you will present your assignment to the class. It is mandatory that you also post your presentation on the blackboard, so your colleagues can benefit from your learning.
The following list indicates the essential qualities I am expecting to see in your writings.
___ thesis statement provided
___ good introduction
___ argument developed in paper
___ clearly and concisely written
___ evidence, examples supplied
___ course materials integrated
___ adequate and accurate citations
___ grammar, spelling doublechecked
___ insights gained from class included
___ own thesis examined
___ vividly written
___ other positions analyzed
___ organized, transitions used
___ clear conclusion that ties together
Minimum %=Letter Grade
Minimum %=Letter Grade
During the course of the semester, you will be able to see your grade by checking the GRADEBOOK section on BLACKBOARD.
I will issue an Authorized Incomplete (I) only when a small portion of required coursework has not been completed due to unforeseen, but fully justifiable reasons. You must complete the required work within one calendar year immediately following the end of the term in which it was assigned. If this is not done, you will receive an IC - Incomplete Charged Grade that will count as an F for GPA computation.
A grade of "WU" for "Withdrawal Unauthorized" (formerly "U") indicates that you enrolled in a course, did not officially withdraw from the course, and failed to complete course requirements. For purposes of GPA computation, this grade is equivalent to an "F". If you attend a portion of a course and then stop attending without officially withdrawing, you will receive a final grade of "F" rather than "WU".
If you are a student with a documented disability on record at SDSU and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately.
Lectures and Required Reading Assignments
Lectures are divided into two sections. The first section investigates the nature of philosophy in India. The second section addresses specific issues in light of comparative philosophy. While the first section is introductory in nature, the second section aims to bridge the broader academic need for global perspective on philosophical thinking. While the first assignment paper is strictly based on one of the Indian philosophical schools of thought, or a particular issue within Indian philosophical tradition, the second paper has to reflect your learning in a comparative perspective. In this way, while not requiring previous academic credits in the subject, the course addresses complex philosophical issues that prepare you for a wider cross-cultural and comparative knowledge of philosophical studies. You are expected to read the required assignments prior to the class. I will distribute handouts to help you pinpoint the discussion questions. You are supposed to make an electronic journal of the questions given every week.
Weekly Required Reading:
SECTION I: INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN PHILOSOPHY
September 1: Problematizing Indian Philosophy
India and the History of Philosophy (King 1999, 1-41)
India and the History of Philosophy (King 1999, 1-23)
Can philosophy be Indian? (King 1999, 24-41)
Defining the Subject Matter
Histories of Western Philosophy
Secular Reason and the Dichotomy of Tradition vs Modernity
Indian Materialism – A Counter-Example
Is there ‘Philosophy’ in Ancient India?
Why consider ‘Indian Philosophy’?
The Varieties of Hindu Philosophy (King 1999, 42-74)
The Origins and Nature of Hindu Philosophy
Bhartrhari and the Philosophy of Linguistic Analysis
The Varieties of Hindu Philosophy
The Prior Exegesis School
The Later Exegesis School
The Particularist School
The School of Reasoning
The School of Enumeration
The Classical Yoga School
Buddhist Philosophy in India (King 1999, 75-104)
Buddhism in India
The Doctrinal Foundations of Buddhist Philosophy
The Buddhist Philosophy of No-Abiding-Self
Mainstream Buddhist Philosophy
Mahayana Buddhism in India
Indian Ontology and Epistemology (King 1999, 105-146)
Vaisesika: Classifying Reality
Reality as Process: The Abhidharma Response
Rejecting Ontology: The Mahayana Philosophy of Emptiness
Epistemology: How do we know what we know?
The Foundations of Knowledge
Inference and the Nyaya School
Emptiness and Nagarjuna’s Critique of Pramana Theory
Perception: Do we see things as they are?
(King 1999, 147-165)
The Nature of Perception
Perception in Advaita Vedanta: Reconciling the Everyday World and Monism
The Image Theory of Perception
Consciousness and the Body: What are we? (King 1999. 166-197)
The Dualism of the Samkhya School
The Samkhya Philosophy of Isvarakrisna
The Yoga System of Patanjali
Creation and Causality: Where do we come from? (King 1999, pages 198-229)
Myth and History
Ancient Indian Cosmogonies
Creation and Causality in Buddhism
God and Causality in Nyaya-Vaisesika
Causal Theory in Samkhya and Yoga
The Early Vedanta of the Brahmasutra
Samkara and the Philosophy of Non-Dualism
Ramanuja and the Qualified Non-Dualism
Theory of Knowledge
“Theory of Knowledge,” in Classical Indian Philosophy, pp. 11-40)
The definitions of pramanya
Varieties of pramana
Indian theories of meaning
Theories of false cognition
Are truth and falsity intrinsic or extrinsic to knowledge?
“Metaphysics,” in Classical Indian Philosophy, pp.59-92.
Body (multiple bodies)
The problem of causality
Existence of an external world
Absolutism versus nonabsolutism
“Philosophy of Politics, Law, and Morals (Dharmasastras)” in Classical Indian Philosophy, pp.95-124.
State, Society, and Law
Hindu and Buddhist Virtues
Bhagavadgita and Morality
The Concept of Renunciation
October 20: Paper Presentation
SECTION II: Indian and Comparative Philosophies
October 27: Dualism
Kishor Kumar Chakrabarti, “Toward Dualism: The Nyaya Vaiesika Way,” in Philosophy East and West, 41:4 (477-491)
Defining the self
Inferring the self
Vacaspati Misra’s interpretation
Arguments against mental qualities being somatic properties
Buddhist rejection of the self and Nyaya arguments in defense
Haridash Caudhuri, “Existentialism and Vedanta,” in Philosophy East and West, 12:1 (3-17)
Emergence of Western Existentialism
Being and Vedanta
Limits of phenomenological reduction
The concept of Avidya
Analyzing the cogito
Existence as multiple relationships
Experience in Vedanta
Transcendental consciousness in Husserl, Sartre, and Vedanta
Monima Chadha, “Perceptual Cognition: A Nyaya-Kantian Approach,” Philosophy East and West, 51:2 (197-209)
Purusottama Bilimoria, “Perception in Advaita Vedanta,” Philosophy East and West, 30:1 (35-44)
Perceptual cognition of particulars
Buddhist and Nyaya debate over perception
Perceiving the universal (samanya)
Kant on perception and imagination
R. Puligandla, “Phenomenological Reduction and Yogic Meditation,” Philosophy East and West, 20:1 (19-33)
Method of phenomenological reduction
Consciousness and meaning
The limbs of yoga
Dharana/ Dhyana/ Samadhi
James Morley, “Inspiration and Expiration: Yoga Practice Through Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology,” Philosophy East and West, 51:1 (73-82).
Sundar Sarukkai, “Inside/Outside: Merleau-Ponty/Yoga,” Philosophy East and West, 52:4 (459-478)
Yoga and Phenomenology
The Lived Body and Yoga
Perception and Gestalt Psychology
Merleau-Ponty’s ambiguity about inside/outside
Embodiment and Hatha Yoga
Visible and Invisible
Phenomenological experience of the inner body
Experiencing depth and the argument for embodiment
Patanjali on Yoga
Internal and External on Pranayama
Breathing and consumption
Ramesh Kumar Sharma, “Dreamless Sleep and Some Related Philosophical Issues,” Philosophy East and West, 51:2 (210-231)
Can dreamless state be verified?
Waking and sleeping in comparative perspetive
The Advaita account of knowing ‘nothing’
Alternative perspectives regarding self and consciousness
Personal identity and unity of consciousness
Objections of Advaita arguments
C. Ram-Prasad, “Saving the Self?: Classical Hindu Theories of Consciousness and Contemporary Physicalism,” Philosophy East and West, 51:3 (378-392)
Physicalism and classical Indian philosophies
Three responses to physicalism
Bhatta Mimamsa and Nyaya perspectives on consciousness
Advaita perspectives on consciousness
Subjective self and phenomenology of consciousness
Matthew McKenzie, “The Illumination of Consciousness: Approaches to Self-Awareness in the Indian and Western Traditions,” Philosophy East and West, 57:1 (40-62)
Self-awareness, reflection, and reflexivity
Higher-order representation theories
The position of Sartre
Arguments for reflectionism
Arguments for reflexivism
Dipankar Chatterjee, “Skepticism and Indian Philosophy,” Philosophy East and West, 27:2 (195-209)
History of skeptical thinking in India
Skepticism of Arcesilaus and Carneades
Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus
Syadvada of the Jains
Yogacara and Samkhya-yoga
The Advaita Vedanta
Harold G. Coward, “”Speech versus Writing” in Derrida and Bhartrhari,” Philosophy East and West, 41:2 (141-162)
The distinction between word and sound
Derrida’s deconstruction of the logocentric priority of speech over writing
Sabdatattva and Kala
Parinama and Vivartta
Language as manifested in Derrida and Bhartrhari
Language as means for spiritual realization
Pratibha and sphota
A Few Suggested Topics For Your Term Papers:
Indian Philosophy: Post-Colonial Perspectives
Darsana and Philosophy: Indian Thought in Comparative Perspective
What is Real? Classical Indian and Western Perspectives
Self or Not-Self: Hindus and Buddhists in Quest of Self-Realization
Person in Indian Philosophy
Indian Philosophy of Mind
Consciousness: Momentary, Non-Momentary, and Self-Reflexive: Some Indian Perspectives
Indian Realism and Non-Realism
Indian Philosophies of the Universal
Indian Philosophy of Language
Self-Realization in Indian Religious Traditions
Buddhist Theory of Perception
Samkhya and Advaita Perspectives on Perception
The Rupture of the Self: Indian Perspective of Ecstasy
Mind-Body Dualism and Indian Philosophical Perspectives
The Philosophy of Nagarjuna
The Philosophy of Bhartrhari
The Philosophy of Gaudapada
The Philosophy of Dharmakirti
The Philosophy of Prabhakara
The Philosophy of Kumarila
The Philosophy of Udayana
Karma and Liberation: Samkhya and Mimamsa Perspectives
Self-Realization: Yoga, Advaita, and Trika Philosophies