The student will:
(1) Describe the main philosophical tenets of the major world religions,
including but not necessarily limited to Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism,
Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
(2) Critically evaluate these same philosophical tenets.
(3) Show the internal relationships between the ideas examined in each
of the religions under consideration.
(4) Compare and contrast the various religions with respect to their
conceptions of things such as: ultimate reality, the physical world,
humankind, afterlife and morality.
(5) Demonstrate an understanding of the origin, the historical develop-
ment and the cultural setting of each of the religions covered, in so far
as such considerations help elucidate the religious philosophies.
The sequence of the topics presented in Philosophy 8 often varies,
but a typical course includes the following:
1. Introduction to the key concepts, theories and criteria to be used
in the philosophical study of world religions (e.g. ultimate reality,
theology, mythology, afterlife, religious authority, scriptures,
rituals, morality, history).
2. Hinduism - topics include: Yedic mythology, the Yedas, the
relationship between classical and post-classical Hinduism, the
Trimurti (Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu), polytheism and monotheism,
Brahman-Atman, maya, paths to salvation, four stages of life,
samsara, the Bhagavad Gita, the Law of Karma, reincarnation and caste.
3. Buddhism - topics include: the Life of Buddha, the relationship
between Buddhism and Hinduism, the Four Nobel Truths, the Eight
fold path, Nirvana, the relationship between Theravada and
Mahayana, the role of deities in Buddhism, the Bodhisattva,
anatman, Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
4. Confucianism - topics include: the life of Confucius, historical
context of Confucianism, social and political philosophy, li, jen,
the role of family, Confucian education, religious and non-religious
aspects of Confucianism, and the relationship between Confucianism,
Realism, Mohism, and Taoism.
5. Taoism - topics include: the life of Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching, the
concept of Tao, the Taoist conception of nature, wu-wei, yin-yang,
Taoist relativism, the relationship between Taoism and Zen, pacifism,
popular Taoism and deities.
6. Judaism - topics include: the Patriarchs, the Prophets, creation,
the Exodus, the Diaspora, monotheism, moral/social philosophy, the
significance of Judaic history, scripture, the relationship between
Judaism and Christianity, Zionism, the Holocaust, and the
relationship between Orthodox, Reform and Conservative branches
7. Christianity - topics include: the life of Jesus, the Resurrection,
the disciples, the early church, the Incarnation, the doctrine of
Original Sin, the Trinity, theology, morality, afterlife, the
Last Judgement, religious authorties, politics, Roman Catholicism,
Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism and relationship with Judaism.
8. Islam - topics include: the life of Mohammad, the Hegira, the Koran,
Allah and monotheism, the Five Pillars, the Sunnis, the Shi-ites,
social and moral philosophy, racial attitudes, the status of women,
jihad, relationship between Islam, Judaism and Christianity and
recent political developments.
THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS & A COMPLETELY REVISED & UPDATED EDITION OF THE
RELIGIONS OF MAN, Harper San Francisco, 1991.
THE SACRED PATHS, Theodore M. Ludwig, 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1996.
PATHS OF FAITH, John A. Hutchison, 4th ed., McGraw Hill, 1991
THE WORLD'S WISDOM: SACRED TEXTS OF THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS, Philip Novak,
1st ed., Harper San Francisco, 1994.