PP3WPGI-World Philosophies, Global Issues

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Shalini Sinha

Email: shalini.sinha@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The philosophical traditions of China and Japan, India, the Islamic world, Africa, and Native America challenge some of our deepest beliefs and intuitions. This course is about the questions these philosophies raise from how to lead a good life to global issues of race, war, and debt. How is leading an ethical life linked to ritual, excellence to choice and not ability, and harmony to non-action in Chinese philosophy? Is the natural world an actualization of wisdom, and does freedom lie in cultivating spontaneity as Zen Buddhism claims? Does Buddhist non-essentialism provide a framework for investigating issues of race and gender? What light do ancient Indian conceptions of sacrifice shed on the contemporary political economy of war, debt, and money? What is the relationship between love and justice in Islam, and what is the ethical content of jihad? Are there links between the philosophy of death and emotions in Gandhian non-violent activism and contemporary ‘terrorism’? Is an ethics of non-violence consistent with Indian practices of meditative suicide, and monastic self-immolation in Vietnamese Buddhism? What does African philosophy say about the idea of race and the construction of identity? What are the environmental implications of Native American ethical ontologies of the human and non-human world?

The course encourages students to examine their core beliefs in view of the diversity of philosophical perspectives and paradigms offered by global philosophical traditions. It encourages students to compare and contrast the understanding and practice of philosophy in different cultures and traditions, and investigate the philosophical applications of these approaches to issues that have global significance. Students will gain an understanding of current debates in world philosophies, cultivate skills in oral and written argument and develop a sense of the applicability of new and innovative philosophical concepts and frameworks to problems and issues in multicultural societies and a global political economy.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students will gain an awareness of the core concepts, issues, and ways of doing philosophy in global philosophical traditions. They will learn skills of argument and presentation, and come to understand what counts as ‘Philosophy’ in various cultures, and the diverse methodological practices that underpin it. Students will come to acquire skills of research and enquiry by designing their seminar presentations, undertaking research for coursework essays, and learn to critically appraise what they learn. They will develop personal effectiveness and self-awareness by learning to communicate in one-to-one discussions, and in seminars and lectures using a range of means (speaking, essay-writing, presenting and designing slides). Students will learn to reflect critically on their progress, their strengths and weaknesses, and the goals they wish to achieve.

Additional outcomes:
This module gives students an opportunity to enhance their multicultural awareness and intercultural competencies by considering global approaches to the study of philosophy and contemporary issues of gender and race, the environment, war and political economy. Students will learn how concepts from very different cultures and traditions can be relevant in the contemporary context by developing the skill to apply diverse concepts, theories, and practices to contemporary problems, and use these to engage critically with current thinking and practice on these issues. They will be encouraged to approach social and civic responsibilities through values of inclusiveness and diversity.

Outline content:
This module will approach contemporary problems and philosophical issues through the conceptual lens of a diverse range of philosophical traditions. We will discuss: (1) the claims of Classical Chinese philosophy that leading a good life is founded on ritual and small gestures, achieving power in holding back, excellence in choice, and harmony in non-action, (2) Zen Buddhist perspectives on natural wisdom and freedom and the cultivation of spontaneity, (3) the scope of Buddhist non-essentialism with regard to issues of race and gender, (4) the logic of sacrifice in ancient Indian philosophy and the global political economy of war, debt and money, (5) love and justice in Islam, and the ethical content of jihad, (6) the philosophy of death and emotions in Gandhian non-violent ethics and contemporary ‘terrorism’, (7) the ethics of meditative suicide by fasting in Indian Jaina traditions and by self-immolation in Vietnamese Buddhism, (8) African philosophy of race and identity, (9) Native American ethical ontologies of the human and nonhuman world and their implications for environmental ethics.

Sample Reading List:
Jay Garfield and William Edelglass, Oxford Handbook of World Philosophies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Arindam Chakrabarti and Ralph Weber, Comparative Philosophy Without Borders (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).
Michael Puett, The Path (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016).
Hans-Georg Moeller, The Philosophy of the Daodejing (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).
Garfield, Jay. Engaging Buddhism: Why It Matters to Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Jay Garfield, Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Jay Garfield and William Edelglass, Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
Arnold Koller (ed.) Engaged Buddhist Reader: Ten Years of Engaged Buddhist Publishing (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2013).
Christopher Queen, Charles Prebisch and Damien Keown, Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism (London: Routledge).
Faisal Devji, The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics (Hurst and Company, 2008).
Faisal Devji, Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity (London: Hurst and Company, 2005).
Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Global context:
This module will situate students’ understanding of ‘Philosophy’ in a global context and develop an understanding of the diverse ways there are of doing philosophy in an increasingly global community. It will greatly enhance the resources students have for understanding and developing their own thought and practice in a global context, and their intercultural competencies, by developing a sound understanding of the diversity of philosophical perspectives available on fundamental philosophical questions in the world’s philosophical traditions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars during the term in which it is provided. All students are required to write two module essays from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor and to give one seminar presentation. In addition, in weeks in which a student is not giving a presentation, they will be required to write a short précis of the topic for discussion at a given seminar class. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer questions posed by others. A reading list and sample questions will be given out at the start of the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Two essays of 2,000-2,500 words worth a total of 30% of the module mark.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard.

Formative assessment methods:
Students will write a short précis of the topic for discussion for every seminar class in which they are not doing a presentation. Feedback will be given on essay plans and oral presentation outlines.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    2 hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Written Examination only.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 9 January 2017

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