T325 Confucian Values and Modern Applications in East Asia
Diana Lin/Fall 2010

Office: Hawthorn Hall 206A
(O) 980 6981
Email: dchenlin@iun.edu
Website: www.iun.edu/~hisdcl
Office hours: MW: 8:30-10am, 11:30am-1pm, or by appt.

Purpose of Course:

In this course we will explore both some basic Confucian concepts and their applications in modern East Asia, especially in China and Japan. A goal of the course is to provide an understanding of how traditional values are perpetuated and transformed to fit with new situations in these two countries. Though focused on China and Japan, this course explores continuity and change in modern societies that characterize most societies in this world today.

Required Readings:

Two required books are available from the campus Barnes and Noble Bookstore:

Bell, Daniel A. China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in A Changing Society. Princeton University Press, 2008.

Reid, T.R. Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West. Random House Vintage Books, 1st edition, 1999.

Other required readings are JSTOR articles that can be directly accessed through their links in the online syllabus.


1.Two take-home papers, each 8-10 pages, typed, double spaced. The papers need citations.

You will use the built-in paper topics in the syllabus, first paper topic under the schedule for the 8th week, and second paper topic at the end of the syllabus. You are required to use both in-class readings and one or two outside sources for your papers.

2. Answer five (5) questions from the essay questions for each week's readings and send the essays to me via Oncourse email PRIOR TO CLASS. Each assignment should be treated as a mini essay of half a page, typed directly onto your email. The five essays account for 20 per cent of your final grade. You may choose any essay topics, so long as you have answered five questions by the end of the semester.

3. Class attendance and participation. Not attending class for four times or more without prior explanation can cost you the entire attendance grade.

Method of grading: all grades are assigned in percentages, which will be tabulated at the end of the semester and converted to letter grades. The conversion is as follows: 93-100: A; 90-92.9: A-; 85-89.9: B+; 80-84.9: B; 75-79.9: B-; 70-74.9: C+; 65-69.9: C; 60-64.9: C-; 55-59.9: D+; 50-54.9: D; 45-49.9: D-; 44 and below: F. The grades are available in your Oncourse gradebook.

Grade distribution is as follows:

Class attendance: 5 percent
Class participation: 15 percent
Writing assignments: 20 percent
Two take-home papers: 30 percent each

Web Resources:

Maps of ancient China

Map of contemporary China

The Complete "Analects" of Confucius

Class Schedule:

Week 1 (Aug.30-Sept.5)

Aug.30 Introduction.

Sept.1 Some basic Confucian principles and their relevance in East Asia today. Tu Weiming, Implications of the Rise of Confucian East Asia.
Essay question 1: What are some characterstics of Confucian influence in East Asia today?

Week 2 (Sept.6-12)

Sept.6 Labor Day. No class.

Sept.8 Confucianism and capitalism. Arif Dirlik, Confucius in the Borderlands: Global Capitalism and the Reinvention of Confucianism
Essay question 2: How does Dirlik link Confucian learning and East Asian capitalism?

Week 3 (Sept.13-19)

Sept.13 The Analects (of Confucius) Readings: On Jen/Ren (Humaneness), Junzi (the Superior Man), Li (Rites).
Essay question 3: Comment on one or two aspects of the Confucian values expressed in these passages.

Sept.15 Analects. Readings: Yueh (Music), Learning and Teaching, Government, Rectifying the Names.
Essay question 4: Compare Confucius's views on education and politics with those in the U.S.

Week 4 (Sept.20-26)

Sept.20 China: from Communism to Confucianism. Bell, Introduction, chap.1.
Essay question 5: How could the Communist Chinese government accept Confucian teachings?

Sept.22 The relevance of Confucian values to modern issues of the state. Bell, chap.2.
Essay question 6: Discuss what you think of one area of Confucian teachings that Bell says is relevant to contemporary society.

Week 5 (Sept.27-Oct.3)

Sept.27 Confucian rituals and relevance to present society. Bell, chap.3.
Essay question 7: How does Bell think where rituals help? And what do you think?

Sept.29 Put rituals in perspective. Stephen Wilson, Conformity, Individuality, and the Nature of Virtue
Essay question 8: Where does Wilson differ from Bell regarding Confucian rituals?

Week 6 (Oct.4-10)

Oct.4 Jen/Ren, the central Confucian concept and how it works. Tu Weiming, Jen as a Living Metaphor
Essay question 9: Why does Tu Wei-ming emphasize humaneness (Jen/Ren) over rituals as the most important aspect of Confucian learning?

Oct.6 A further elaboration on humaneness. Philip Ivanhoe, Reweaving the "One Thread" of the Analects.
Essay question 10: What, according to Ivanhoe, do the concepts of chung/zhong (忠) and shu (恕) correspond to Western values?

Week 7 (Oct.11-17)

Oct.11 Confucius humaneness in the workplace. Guanxi Versus the Market.
Essay question 11: How is humaneness, according to this article, played out in the workplace in China sometimes?

Oct.13 Rituals, humaneness, and interpersonal relationships. Bell, chap.5.
Essay question 12: Do you agree with Bell that both humaneness and rituals are at work in many Chinese treatments of domestic workers?

Week 8 (Oct.18-24) First take-home paper due by Oct.24 via Oncourse email. Paper topic: How do Confucian values compare with Western values such as humaneness, propriety, loyalty and tolerance? Use your knowledge of East Asian society from the readings to discuss how societies informed by Confucian values develop in a global era compared with, say the American society. Your paper needs to draw on our readings, plus one outside source. It should be 8-10 pages, double spaced, with in-text citations.

Oct.18 Confucius, tradition, and historical pride. Bell, chap.6.
Essay question 13: To what extent do you think the Chinese value of history or countries with a long history could be attributable to Confucian teachings on tradition?

Oct.20 Confucius and Chinese style education. Bell, chap.7.
Essay question 14: How do you think this class would be conducted differently if it was completely done Confucian style?

Week 9 (Oct.25-31)

Oct.25 Confucius and lifetime growth. Bell, chap.9.
Essay question 15: How would a Confucian plan his/her life differently from an American young man/woman?

Oct.27 Confucius and modern political systems. Qingping Liu, "Filiality Versus Sociality and Individuality: on Confucianism as Consanguinitism.
Essay question 16: Where do you think, after reading the Liu article, the Confucian familial system would fare worst in a democratic system?

Week 10 (Nov.1-7)

Nov.1 Are Confucian values anti-democratic? Shaun O'Dwyer, Democracy and Confucian Values.
Essay question 17: Compare Bell and O'Dwyer's views on Confucian rituals.

Nov.3 Confucian learning as an alternative to democracy? Brooke Ackerly, Is Liberalism the Only Way toward Democracy.
Essay question 18: Do you agree with Ackerly that Confucian teachings could serve as an alternative to Western form of democracy?

Week 11 (Nov.8-14)

Nov.8 Confucian learning and Japanese society after modernization. Reid, chaps.1 & 2.
Essay question 19: Where does Reid think Confucian teachings have made a difference in modern Japanese society?

Nov.10 Confucian influences in Japanese social life. Reid, chap.3.
Essay question 20: Which areas of life described by Reid in this chapter can you identify as influenced by Confucian teachings?

Week 12 (Nov.15-21)

Nov.15 Confucian influences on Japanese education. Reid, chaps.4 & 5.
Essay question 21: Discuss one or two areas of Japanese education that are different from American education due to Confucian influence.

Nov.17 Confucian rituals and company culture in Japan. Reid, chap.6.
Essay question 22: Compare company culture in Japan and the U.S. as informed by your knowledge of American companies and Reid's chap.6.

Week 13 (Nov.22-28)

Nov.22 Society and productivity. Reid, chap.7.
Essay question 23: Discuss how Reid views Japanese society and productivity as informed by Confucian teachings. Do you agree with him? What does Reid mean by "the secret weapon?"

Nov.24 Are Japan and the U.S.really that different? Reid, chap.8.
Essay question 24: Discuss what you think of the Japanese approach of treating Japan and the U.S. as polarized extremes.

Week 14 (Nov.29-Dec.5)

Nov.29 Are Confucian values compatible with Christian ones? Reid, chaps.9 & 10.
Essay question 25: Do you think Reid is biased in arguing that Confucian learning and Christian teachings are compatible with each other?

Dec.1Confucianism and globalization. Gilbert Rozman, Can Confucianism Survive in an Age of Universalism and Globalization?
Essay question 26: How do Rozman's ideas compare with our earlier readings, including the monographs of Reid and Bell?

Week 15 (Dec.6-12)

Dec.6 Round table discussion: Since the mid-19th century, the East Asians, including the Chinese and the Japanese, have tried to "transplant" Western science, values, and political systems into their countries. How realistic is it for the West to introduce Confucian values into Western societies, and would such introduction be conducive to democracy and capitalism?

Dec.8 Conclusion.

Week 16

Second paper due by Dec.13 through Oncourse Assignments. Paper topic: Assess the relevance of Confucian teachings in a global era when East Asian countries such as Japan and China either have developed democracy and a market economy or move toward such an outcome. Where would Confucian teachings prove to provide an advantage for the East Asian countries and where would they be a drawback? Your paper needs to draw on our readings, plus one or two outside source. It should be 8-10 pages, double spaced, with in-text citations.