Course Description       
A course on classical Chinese philosophy. Following this tradition of textual commentary, itself cultivated as an art form, we will analyze six early Chinese philosophers from the “Spring and Autumn” (770-476 B.C.) and “Warring State” (475-221 B.C.) periods, the turbulent last two periods of Zhou Dynasty that demanded and produced great thinkers in action: Sun Tzu, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Confucius, Mencius and Hsün Tzu.

Course Objectives         
The flowering of thoughts during this era, comparable to the origination of ideas in ancient Greece, led to the institution of a comprehensive range of philosophical systems encompassing ethics, aesthetics, epistemology and metaphysics, all shaped broadly into the Taoist tradition on the one hand, and the Confucian on the other. With this in mind, we will examine both the original insights and contextual contributions of some of the key thinkers from those twofold traditions: you are expected to apply, intelligently and creatively, philosophical ideas you learn from this class to your own context.

Required Texts 
  • [Kongzi] Henry Jr. Rosemont and Roger Ames (trans). The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books. 1999.
  • [Laozi] Roger Ames and David Hall (trans). Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books. 2003.
  • [Sunzi] Roger Ames (trans). Sun-Tzu: The Art of Warfare. New York: Ballantine Books. 1993.
  • [Zhuangzi; Xunzi; Mengzi] Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan Van Norden (eds). Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Washington DC: Seven Bridges Press. 2000.
  • Both a print copy and an electronic copy are allowed in class.
  • Rule/Warning: the in-class abuse of digital freedom such as texting or net-surfacing will be penalized by the immediate eviction from the classroom and one letter grade reduction per violation.

Recommended/Further Readings
  • [Zhuangzi] Watson Burton (trans). Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press. 1996. 
  • [Xunzi] Watson Burton (trans). Hsün Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press. 1963.
  • [Mengzi] D.C. Lau (trans). Mencius. New York: Penguin Books. 1970.
  • Joel Kupperman. Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts. Oxford: OUP. 2001.
  • Michael Nylan. The Five "Confucian" Classics. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2001.  

Class Schedule
  • 09/02Introduction
  • 09/09 and 09/16Sunzi
  • 09/30 and 10/07Laozi
  • 10/14 and 10/21Zhuangzi
  • 10/28 and 11/04Kongzi
  • 11/11 Mengzi  
  • 11/18Dr. Lee's Writing Clinic @ Phil Dept/My Office, 8F: Pre-scheduled One-on-one conference
  • 11/25Pre-thanksgiving Writing Day, Work on Revising Your Paper. No Class
  • 12/02Xunzi
  • 12/09Last Day of Class: Round-up Discussion/Student Presentations

Submission Due Dates
  • Use| No email submission accepted or acknowledged| Class ID: 8530290| Password: madness
  • 09/26Draft Submission: ONE file containing 2 Sample Journals, 500 words each
  • 10/31Draft Submission: ONE file containing 1 Sample Paper, 3,000 words
  • 12/11Final Submission: ONE file containing the final draft of 10 Journals and 2 Papers (or instead, 1 paper of 6,000 words)

<<On Daily Reading and Journaling>>
  • Try and read all the assigned/required reading per class day  and
  • write a well-condensed and composed (no rambling or waffling, please) journal either
  • combining all/any of the readings or doing an in-depth analysis of one text (or chapter) of your choice. 

<<Examples: Journals on "The Personal is Theoretical?"; Theoretical is Scientific?; "Naming Opression and Position":
These examples are quite extensive, and you should aim for a shorter version of the comparable level of analytic and critical reading.>>

Some Useful Links/Resources
Zhongwen (Dictionary)
Chinese Political History (Overview)
Chinese History: Chronology (Brief)
Chinese History: Timeline
Theism and Naturalism in Ancient Chinese Philosophy (A Journal Article)
Suntzu said
Sunzi: The Art of War (Overview)
Sunzi: The Art of War (Chapter-By-Chapter Excerpts & Reading)
Laozi: Daodejing
Laozi: Daodejing (Overview)
Laozi: Daodejing (Selections, Thematic)
Laozi: Daodejing (Ctext)
Zhuangzi: Chuang Tzu (Ctext)
Kongzi: The Analects (Ctext)
Mengzi: Mencius (Ctext)

Grading Scale
97- A+
93- A
90- A-
87- B+
83- B
80- B-
77- C+
73- C
70- C-
67- D+
63- D
60- D-
Below 60 F (Fail)

Grade A: Mastery of the issues and literature, and an ability to make some original contribution.
Grade B: Good grasp of issues and literature, but little or no attempt at own contribution.
Grade C: Some but uncertain grasp of the issues.
Grade D: Failure to grasp issues but some attempt made.
Grade F: Not even trying.
[I have borrowed this description of the evaluation criteria from the standardized syllabi used in NYU in London, England, UK.]

  • 100 points system is used.
  • Grades are unnegotiable, unless there is a clerical error.
  • All the grades up to the final exam or paper are calculated numerically in order to give each student maximum opportunities to recuperate, and also to evaluate more accurately the learning process and incremental achievements.
  • At the end, the numeric total will be converted to the corresponding letter grade.

Course Requirements and Evaluation Criteria
Attending (10 pt)
  • Up to 2 absences are allowed with no penalties and 100 % attendance is rewarded with 3 extra points (13 pt); save/use those for occasional medical/personal/family emergencies, accidents, mood swings, heart-breaks, personal rainy days, etc. No need to notify me of such in advance or provide a document later. Just use those two slots freely, as necessary. Save and use your time wisely.     
  • From the 3th absence, you lose 3 points per class missed, and after 50% absence from the class days, you automatically fail the course.
  • Only under extraordinary circumstances such as an accident, sudden illness or chronic conditions requiring long-term hospitalization or recursive medical care, further absences beyond those two above will be excused on an individual basis, provided that official documentary evidence such as a doctor's note, a police report, etc., are submitted at the time of special request.
  • Lateness causes disruption and affects your own learning process: late means half-present (1.5 pt deducted).
  • Attendance means 100% physical presence from start to finish of class time; leaving early means half-present (1.5 pt deducted).
  • Attendance means 100 % mental attention; distracting on-line activities are prohibited (if caught, evicted & 3 pt deducted).
Preparing/Presenting/Participating (30 pt)
  • Preparation (10 pt): Your knowledge of the reading material for each day will be constantly, individually and randomly monitored. The result will be assessed and logged daily. This functions as a loose form of daily quiz; if you get "caught" unprepared, you lose points. 
  • Presentation (10 pt): At least 1 presentation required, 2 recommended, upto 3 allowed if no one else volunteers; each maximum 5pt.
  • Participation (10 pt): Active and meaningful participation in classroom discussion is not an option but a requirement.
Writing (60 pt): A Single file (One Master File) containing 10 Journals and 2 Papers
  • 10 Journals (20 pt): Each minimum 500 words on any one of the class readings and those only. Each must clearly contain:
  • a succinct summary of the reading material
  • a critical response to or close analysis of any crucial passage(s) which should also be clearly cited, and
  • a conclusive elaboration of the significance of the topic and the passage(s) under discussion.
  • Aim for clarity and perfection. Any entry lacking in any of the above three elements receives a zero point: fail (0 pt); pass (1 pt); good (2 pt)
  • 2 Papers (40 pt): Each minimum 3,000 words or, if you prefer, 1 paper with minimum 6,000 words. Each must clearly contain:
  • Topic: any figure/topic of your choice from the textbook(s) or classroom discussions
  • Primary Source: readings on the syllabus & textbook(s)
  • Outside Sources: print or internet-based, in any combination, up to 10; any reference, whether a url, a chapter, or a book, counts as 1.
  • Bibliographic Format: any standard academic style such as APA/Chicago/MLA
  • The submission deadline is firm. For each calendar day day missed, 2 points will be deducted.
  • Regularly and frequently throughout the course, students will have a chance to receive live feedback on their drafts, and the grade for the writing component will be determined solely on the basis of the polished portfolio submitted on the last day of class. 

Statement of College Policy on Plagiarism
"Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else‘s ideas, words, or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one‘s own creation. Using the ideas or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. It is the student‘s responsibility to recognize the difference between statements that are common knowledge (which do not require documentation) and restatements of the ideas of others. Paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation are acceptable forms of restatement, as long as the source is cited. Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The Library has free guides designed to help students with problems of documentation." (From the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Undergraduate Bulletin, p. 36)
Should plagiarism be determined, a formal disciplinary action will be taken immediately: the student in question will receive an F grade for the course.

Accommodation of Religious Observances
Upon request, academic accommodations for a religious observance are available on an individual basis; by the end of the second week, please provide me with a supplementary document that specifies and verifies your context and needs for modification.

Accommodation of Documented Disabilities
Please contact me within the first two weeks of the semester. An appropriate, case-by-case arrangement will be made to ensure that the student in question is given an equal opportunity for learning.

Any questions about the basic details already specified on the syllabus here will be disregarded.

PHI 351. Classical Chinese Philosophy
Prof. Kyoo Lee, 524 West 59th St. Rm 8.63.15, Dept. of Philosophy, John Jay College, CUNY
Office Hours: By Appointment (Before or After Class)