Chinese Philosophy

Philosophy 145A        Spring 2014


Instructor:                                  Dr. David Corner

Office:                                        MND 3014

Office Hours:                             T 12-1:15, W 10:30-11:45, and by appointment                        

Office Phone:                             278-6970

Voicemail:                                  572-6474 (textable in emergencies; forwards to email)

Philosophy Department:             278-6424; 278-5364 (fax)




Required Texts

An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, Jeeloo Liu

Dao De Jing, A Philosophical Translation, Hall & Ames

Other readings will be available online



Catalog Description: Survey of the major philosophical traditions of China and Japan, focusing on concepts of nature, man, society, freedom and knowledge.  Special attention will be given to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and recent philosophical movements.

This course satisfies Area C4: Further Studies in the Arts and Humanities, and satisfies the intensive writing requirement.

Prerequisites:  Passing score on the Writing Proficiency Exam.

The intensive writing requirement specifies that students will complete writing assignments totaling not less than 5000 words, which is in the range of 17-20 pages depending on formatting.  In this course, this goal will be met with a combination of critical summaries (12 ½ pages total) and an in-class essay final (6 pages minimum).  The instructor will be working actively with students to assist them in sharpening their analytic skills and improving their writing styles.



-       Familiarize students with the major schools of traditional Chinese philosophy

-       Improve students’ abilities to critically assess complex philosophical argumentation

-       Improve students’ abilities to develop a reasoned framework for their own worldview

-       Enhance students’ composition skills

-       Expose students to highly sophisticated non-western schools of philosophical thought



The following cut­off scheme repre­sents a guaran­tee of the maxi­mum course total required for each letter grade.  Target scores for the individual assignments are also provided.








Summaries (x5)


































The instructor will be following the Philosophy Department’s grade definitions.


Description of Requirements

Critical Summaries:  Students are asked to write five 650 word (2-3 page) critical summaries of the assigned reading.  These will not only give a brief overview of current reading, or some interesting part of it, but will also give a concise critical analysis of it. The emphasis of these summaries will be on the critical examination of complex philosophical argumentation. Detailed comments will be given on all writing assignments to help students improve their skills in both analytic reasoning and composition on subsequent assignments. For an explana­tion of what is involved in philosophical writing, please see the Philosophy Department’s writing guidelines.

Summaries will be submitted at  Only one submission for each summary assignment will be accepted for credit.  That means you can’t submit Summary #1 and submit another summary as Late Summary #1 and get credit for both.  I will assume it is your most recent summary that you wish to submit for credit.

If you do not turn in at least four summaries, you should not expect to receive a C- or better in the course.  This should not be taken as a guarantee of earning a C- with only four summaries; obviously this will depend on the quality of your summaries as well as the number of points you earn for the rest of your work.

It is your responsibility to insure that all of your summaries are properly submitted. It is a requirement of this course that you check to be sure you have received credit for each summary before the next one is due. Negligence in this regard can mean failing the course even though you have done all of the work. You cannot get credit for your summaries if you do not succeed in turning them in. 

Final Exam:  The exam will consist of three essay questions.  Recommended length of response is 2 pages minimum for each question.  Essay topics will be drawn from a list handed out in advance; at least one question will be mandatory, and chosen at random.  You will be allowed to use two pages of notes; the required format for these will be described in a separate handout.

Online Instruction:  Some of the instruction for this course may be given online.  Normally, online instruction will be intended to supplement lecture material; it will give you important background to help you understand the lecture and readings, and provide valuable information for inclusion in the essay portion of your exams.  However, exams may be based on any of the course materials made available to you, and in some cases online materials may be your primary source of exam-relevant instruction. 

Disability Accommodation:  If you have a documented disability and require accommodation with assignments, exams, or note-taking etc. please see the instructor by the end of the third week of class.  Also, be sure to consult with Services for Students with Disabilities in Lassen Hall to see what campus services are available to you.

Testing Center:  If you take your final exam in the testing center, please insure that it will be returned to the Philosophy Department before I have given my last final and I leave campus for the semester. If I do not receive your final in a timely manner you may be assigned a grade of WU. You may also be able to take your exam in the Philosophy Department.  If we have the resources you need for your exam, you should consider doing this.

Extra Credit/Participation:  Class participation is strongly encouraged and may earn you extra credit.  You may participate by asking or answering questions in the classroom, posting to discussion boards on SacCT, or by coming to office hours.  Normally there will be a 40 point maximum for extra credit, but this limit may be extended in recognition of outstanding effort or exceptional mastery of the course material.  No other form of extra credit will be offered.

Missed Exams:  If you are going to miss an exam, please contact me soon as possible.  Make-ups for missed midterms may be given during the final exam period. There will be a penalty equal to 20% of the points possible on the exam unless you are able to document serious and compelling reasons for missing the exam.  There are no exceptions to the requirement for documentation- not even for funerals.  Students who miss the final exam, and who do not schedule a makeup with me or arrange to take an incomplete, will receive a grade of WU.

Withdrawal from the course:  If you miss any two class meetings during the first two weeks of class, I may drop you.  If you miss two meetings and you wish to continue in the course, it is wise to contact me, though this does not guarantee that you will retain your place in the class.  However, you must not assume that I will drop you; it is your responsibility to drop the course if you decide not to continue with it. Please be aware of drop deadlines; as the term progresses it becomes harder to withdraw from the course. After the close of online withdrawals, you will be asked to explain to me, my department chair, and the University administration why you did not drop the course before the previous deadline passed, and if your explanation is not satisfactory your petition to drop will be denied, resulting in a grade of “WU” (unauthorized incomplete), which counts as an F on your transcript.  If you do not complete the course, but do not formally withdraw from it, you will receive a grade of “WU.”

Incompletes will be granted only when circumstances beyond a student’s control prevent them from completing the course. Normally there will not be more than a single assignment outstanding; otherwise, withdrawal is the appropriate remedy.  Incompletes will not be granted after a student has failed the course for nonattendance.  Absent extenuating circumstances, arrangements for an incomplete must be made prior to the end of finals week. In all cases I will have to set up an incomplete contract which you must accept online at least 48 hours before grades are due.  If we are not able to set up an incomplete contract  in a timely manner, you will receive a grade of WU.

Disciplinary Matters

Disruption of class will not be tolerated. Those who engage in impermissible behaviors risk losing attendance or participation credit, and may be dropped from the class.  Impermissible behavior includes, though it is not limited to:  Making comments in class without raising your hand to be recognized; talking or passing notes to other students, habitual tardiness or leaving early, texting, doing out­side homework or reading during class time, and discourtesy to other students or to the instructor.  Be sure that you are well rested enough to be attentive.  Please turn off your pager or cell phone before class begins. 

Laptop Computers:  Portable computers may be used only with the understanding that they will be used in connection with the course, i.e. to take notes or to look for course-related information online.  Be sure you do not distract yourself, or other students, from the lecture.  If you do not follow these guidelines you will lose the privilege of using your laptop in class.

Academic Dishonesty: This usually involves using unauthorized notes during an exam or plagiarism, which is presenting the work of someone else—whether copied or paraphrased—as one’s own. When material is copied without use of quotation marks, plagiarism is presumed.  Please understand that it is not enough simply to reword material you find online to avoid the charge of plagiarism.  You are responsible for what you turn in; check to be sure all appropriate citations are included in your paper. Those who permit others to cheat are considered accomplices and thus guilty of plagiarism themselves.  If unauthorized notes are found accessible to you during an exam, you will be presumed to be using them.

You must not use, or even handle, anyone else’s clicker after the start of lecture.  This will be considered cheating.

Please review the University's policies regarding academic dishonesty.  The library also maintains a very useful page on plagiarism.

Anyone caught cheating will lose credit for the assignment on which they cheated, with no possibility of make-up.  The minimum penalty will be 150 points, which is likely to drop the offender 1-2 letter grades in the course.  If your clicker is used while you are not in attendance, the penalty will be 150 points against you as well as the person who uses your clicker on your behalf.  All cases of cheating will be reported to the Administration for further action.

Outside Sources:  Students sometimes try to use material from outside sources on their course assignments, when they find that their notes are inadequate— perhaps because they were not attentive during lecture, did not understand the lecture and did not ask for help, did not do the required reading, or were simply absent.  If you consult outside sources you should indicate the source of your material in your work.  You are strongly advised to check these sources with me, as many (e.g. Wikipedia) are unreliable and therefore completely unsatisfactory for scholarly purposes.  Students sometimes fail their assignments when they rely on such dubious sources.

I recommend, as a source for background information, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Articles in the IEP, unlike those in Wikipedia, are reviewed for accuracy by people who know something about the subject matter.  Another good source for advanced work is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Schedule of Readings and Assignments