Conceptions of Freedom in Chinese Philosophy
This course will provide a survey of the different conceptions of freedom in Classical Chinese Philosophy. It examines different classical philosophers in China through the notion of freedom, and also, reflects on common cultural tropes about Chinese intellectual history. We will think through the nature of the individual self, the existence of human will, and the relation of that self to society via varying Chinese intellectual traditions, from Confucianism and Daoism to Legalism among others. By the course’s end, students are expected to have acquired a critical awareness of the diverse perspectives of Chinese philosophers on metaphysical and political freedom.
Readings in Neo-Daoism
This course is an overview of Neo-Daoist philosophy (Xuanxue玄学), which marked a renewed interest in Daoism during Wei and Jin dynasties. Particular attention will be paid to dominant concepts at the time such as individualism, the nature of being and nonbeing, sageliness (both moral and social), as well as varying syntheses of Confucian and Daoist ideas. The course takes on a dominantly philosophical overview, but also touches on the religious aspects which cannot be removed from the character of the movement. It is an exploration of the new concepts and frameworks articulated by these thinkers their innovative use of metaphysics, epistemology, and aesthetics to address the social issues of the time. Furthermore, we will also look at the emerging commentarial tradition, which was integral to the development of Chinese philosophy after the pre-Qin period. By the end of the course, students are expected to understand the unique contributions of Xuanxue scholars in Chinese philosophical discourse, as well as reflect on the contemporary implications of these innovative yet overlooked philosophical frameworks.
Perspectives on Gender in Chinese Philosophy
This course will examine the different philosophical conceptions of gender and women in the history of Chinese Philosophy. We will think through the natures of gender and sexuality via varying Chinese intellectual traditions, from Confucianism and Daoism to Buddhism and Marxism. Discussions will oscillate between how the woman and/or gender is perceived in some of the primary classical texts of Chinese Philosophy, philosophical texts written by women for women, as well as contemporary works which use Chinese philosophical methodologies to think through and re-think notions of gender and femininity. By the course’s end, students are expected to have acquired a critical awareness of the diversity and links between perspectives of Chinese thinkers on gender and women.
Metaphilosophy and the Politics of Knowing
This course is a postcolonial approach into the question of what it means to do philosophy. We will think through questions such as what is the nature of philosophy? What are its aims, limitations, and methods? Is the philosophical discipline truly inclusive and global? If not, are there ways in which it can be more inclusive and intercultural? We will discuss Plato, Kant, all the way through Spivak, as well as explore non-mainstream philosophy. By the end of the course, students are expected to have gained a critical awareness of the nature of philosophy, as well as its future direction.