Final Paper Prompt for Asian Philosophy

Final Paper Prompt for Asian Philosophy

1         Requirements

  • Due Date: Friday, May 15th, 12am in the morning. You should make sure to upload your paper to the correct slot on Gradescope before that time. Also, because of administrative reasons, it is impossible for me to grant you an extension unless you have university-approved reasons; please bear this point in mind.
  • Format: I believe that only pdf format can be submitted to Gradescope. Given the widespread use of pdf format, this restriction should not be an issue. However, if you REALLY have problem with that, email me and we can figure things out. The paper is expected to be 5-7 page long on a double-spaced A4 paper. However, falling short or exceeding the expected limit within a small margin (e.g., few hundred words) is generally acceptable, and the length of the paper will not have any direct influence of its grade.
  • Plagarism: it goes without saying that any form of plagiarism is strictly o↵-limit for the paper. If you are not sure whether you fully understand the definition of plagiarism, the syllabus contains an explanation of it as well as provides some further resources on this issue. Exploration, cooperation, and discussions that does not fall into the definition of plagiarism is allowed (and indeed, encouraged!). You are also welcomed to come to my o ce hours or email me to talk about your paper ideas.
  • Extra Tips: if you have any question regarding the details of these requirements (or just want to talk through your paper ideas), please feel free to email me or come to my o ce hours.

2         Paper Prompts

  • How to Use the Prompts: A “prompt” is something that can assist you in doing what you are trying to do; therefore, if you can do the thing without the help from the prompt, you may choose not to use it. You should conceive the prompt for this midterm paper in this way; you are welcomed to write your paper after them, but if you have some burning issues related to our readings that you want to address, I encourage you to write on that thing. With that said, here are the two prompts.
  • Prompt 1: According to J. Garfield in Engaging Buddhism, one of the core doctrine of Buddhist worldview is that all phenomena in the world is interdependent with each other. Specifically, we can distinguish between three dimensions of interdependence: causal, mereological, and conceptual. Explain what these three dimensions of interdependence is, and then pick one to give a more detailed, focused elucidation (e.g., give more examples, try to give some preliminary considerations for the plausibility of the doctrine). And then, explain the role the doctrine of interdependence plays in the Buddhist thesis of No Self. Finally, give your own reflection on that dimension of interdependence you choose to elaborate on: do you agree with the idea that all phenomenon are interdependent in that way? Why or why not? Do you think the doctrine of interdependence is in tension with some other ideas we see as plausible? etc.
  • Prompt 2: In pre-modern China, there has been a long history of interactions between the three main ideologies: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. In particular, there has been several famous historical incidents that is directly related to the conflicts in ethics between Buddhism and Confucianism (you can read about one of them in this famous essay, Memorial on the Bone of the Buddha). Using what you have learned in this class, try to identify some ethical issues where Confucians and Buddhists might disagree with each other. You need to spell out what the disagreement is, and explain the deeper reason for why the Confucians and Buddhists would hold their respective positions.

Reading through the above essay might give you some clues on the disagreement between Confucians and Buddhists. Additionally, here are some possible questions that can help you in identifying what the two schools of thought might disagree on:

  • What is the goal of life? What kind of person should we try to be?
  • How should we treat our families and friends and strangers?
  • What is the role of traditions and rituals in a society?

Finally, after you identify and explain the disagreement, discuss your own take of this dispute: whose position you agree with more? Why?