Vedic and Upanishadic Roots of Buddhism

Week 10, Lecture 2 Learning Objectives Discuss four goals in Upanishadic life Define atman During the sixth century BCE a group of nomadic Aryan people crossed the Khyber pass and entered into the Ganges river valley, crossing from Central Asia into the Indian subcontinent. These Aryan people recited and practiced rituals delineated by their ancient …

Setting the Stage for Buddhism to Enter China

Week 10, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Define ziran 自然. Discuss the role dao 道 played in translating Buddhism into Chinese. Kongzi died in 479 BCE, just before the Warring States period began to rage. Over the next two centuries the states that had broken away from the Zhou dynasty fought one another for supremacy. Finally, in 221 BCE, the …

Mohist Rejection of Ruist Fatalism

We've just reviewed the way in which Ruists (like Kongzi and Mengzi) understand the concept tianming 天命 and how this supports their understanding of moral actions. Here we will consider the ways in which Mozi rejects the Ruist project and insists on a consequentialist lens for deciding moral actions. Previously we pointed out that Kongzi looked …

Ruist and Mohist Interpretations of Tianming 天命

Week 8, Lecture 2 Learning Objectives Define utilitarian ethics. Discuss consequentialism and fatalism found in Mohist and Ruist philosophies. Utilitarianism: the right action is that which produces the overall greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. Happiness is understood to be the same thing as pleasure. The overall pursuit is to structure society in …

Two Kinds of Harmony

Week 8, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Discuss differences between harmonia (αρμονία) and he (和) Explain Kongzi’s “golden rule” Harmonia, from which we derive our word “harmony” is another critical term for the ancient Greeks. In our current usage, harmony indicates a state of being well-blended, a mode of unity in which each element is properly-apportioned in …

Final Questions about Arendt’s “Auschwitz on Trial”

This is the final installment of frequent questions raised by my students when reading Hannah Arendt's essay "Auschwitz on Trial," my responses follow. For Questions 1–5; for Questions 6–10. Question 11: Is it possible that the defendants denied the truth because they didn't want to accept the truth of the crimes they committed in Auschwitz? …