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Great Teachings of Asia in the Modern World

Category 'Best Course for Broadening Horizons and Diversity of Knowledge and Skills'
Category 'Best Course for New Knowledge and Skills'
Type: Mago-Lego
When: 3, 4 module
Instructors: Alexander Dolin
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus


The course is designed to familiarize students with the major trends in Comparative Cultural Studies, giving a broad panoramic view of the great spiritual teachings of Asia as projected on contemporary social and political reality. Problems of cultural anthropology, sociology, religion, politics, ethics and aesthetics are incorporated into the course, which allows students to develop a deeper understanding of history and culture as well as of the crucial issues of ideological struggle in the globalizing world. Special accent is placed on intercultural communication, clash of civilizations and major ideological conflicts of our time.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce students to the major achievements of comparative cultural studies
  • Expand students’ worldview by giving an outline of vital problems of various cultures in the context of modernity
  • Trace the patterns of intercultural communication, especially referring to the great teachings of Asia as projected on Japan and on the West
  • Analyze ideological roots of political and social conflicts in the modern world
  • Develop students’ analytical thinking and critical approach to the problems of intercultural conflicts and globalization
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Explains definitions and concepts of culture in the works by Western scholars
  • Describes major concepts of culture
  • Indicates Nationalist Trends in Politics and Languages
  • Explains the formations of Classes, Casts and other Social Groups
  • Explains the emergence of Social Reegulations, Ideology and Law
  • Explains the particularities of the Polytheistic religions
  • Describes divers forms of ritual
  • Explains various approaches to the structure of myth
  • Explains basic concepts of the Mythology Studies
  • Describes the legacy of Judaism
  • Describes the legacy of Christianity
  • Describes the legacy of Islam
  • Characterizes religions and their role in Indian Society
  • Describes the main concepts of Indian Philosophy and Life
  • Explains the meaning of Buddhist Doctrine
  • Names the basic teachings and sacred texts of Hinayana Buddhism
  • Names the basic teachings and sacred texts of Mahayana Buddhism
  • Explains the place and role of the Chinese Culture in the World History
  • Explains the basic concepts of Taoism
  • Analyzes Confucianism as a Philosophy and the Ethical Guidelines
  • Describes Concept of Social Harmony and Peaceful Administration in Confucianism
  • Describes what Zen Aesthetics is and its Role in Japanese Culture
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Definitions and Concepts of Culture in the Works by Western Scholars
    Cultural Relativism – Human Evolution and Adaptation - Genetics, Races and Nations - Diffusion of Culture
  • Major concepts of Culture
    Urban and Non-urban Culture - Transmission and Evolution of Culture – Evaluative Grading of Cultures – Culture and Civilization
  • Language and Society
    Foreign Languages and Translation – Nationalist Trends in Politics and Languages – Languages of Culture – Creative Mind in the Arts
  • Formation of Communities
    Emergence of Social Structures and Regulations – Formations of Classes, Casts and other Social Groups – Emergence of Social Reegulations, Ideology and Law
  • Polytheistic religions
    Veneration of Elements, Forces of Nature, Stars and Planets. – Animism and Totemism – Ancestor Worship - Polytheism and Monotheism - Occultism and Magic – Japanese Shinto as a Polytheistic Cult
  • Divers Forms of Ritual
    Dietary Laws – Marriage Regulations – Taboos – Sacred Rites and Ceremonies – Religious Transformation – Social Transformation – Rites of Passage – Life-cycle Ceremonies and Festivals.
  • Myth and Culture
    Basic Concepts of the Mythology Studies – Various Approaches to the Structure of Myth – Myth and Religious Archetype in Primitive Societies – Myth and Cultural Archetype in Modern Societies - Myth and Art – The Nazi Aria Myth – The Japanese @Divine Race Myth@ - the Communist myth The Future of Myth
  • Major Monotheistic Religions
    The Legacy of Judaism – The Tora and Biblical Mythology – The Concept of the Chosen Nation – The Destiny 0f the Hebrew Civilization. The Legacy of Christianity – Historical Background - Major Dogmas – Christianity and the World today
  • The Legacy of Islam
    Historical Background – The Pillars of Faith – The Muslim Fundamentalism and the Concept of Jihad – Muslim Culture and its 3 Contribution to the World Civilization – Radical Islam versus the West -The Clash of Civilizations in the XXI c.
  • Religions in Indian Society
    Hinduist Traditions in Indian Culture – General Nature of Hindu Beliefs – Hindu Mythology and PantheonVeda and Brahmanism – Vedic Heritage and Upanishada Philosophy – Major Literary and Philosophic Monuments (Mahabharata and Ramayana) -. Sacred Places – Festivals and Rites. – Indian Mind Today
  • Indian Philosophy and Life
    Ahimsa (no harm) Concept – Transmigration, Rebirth and Karma Concepts – The Ashrama (four stages of life) Concept – Major Cults and Religious Orders – Bhakti Mysticism – Hinduism and Art. – Early Indian Missionaries in the West - Krishnaism and Western Culture – Hinduism and Islam.-Tantric Traditions and Esoteric Texts – Tantric Rituals – Emergence of Yoga– Yoga in the West – Totalitarian Cults and Modern World
  • Advent of Buddhism
    The Meaning of Buddhist Doctrine – The Four Noble Truths – The Eightfold Path – Concept of Karma in Buddhism – Suffering, Impermanence and No-self – Concept of Enlightenment - Concept of Nirvana. – Buddhism and Spiritual Life – Ways of Self-perfection - Buddhism and the Arts.
  • Mahayana Buddhism
    The Bodhisattva Ideal – The Three Buddha Bodies - Basic Teachings and Sacred Texts – Hinayana Buddhism – The Arhat Ideal - Basic Teachings and Sacred Texts - Major Trends in Esoteric Buddhism – Buddhism in India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet and Japan – Buddhism and Indigenous Polytheist Religions - Buddhism and Modern Society.
  • Chinese Culture in the World History
    Imperial Centre and the Countries of East Asia – Religious Syncretism – Concepts of Stability and Flexibility – Ethic and Aesthetic Ideals – The Silk Road and Transmission of Culture - China and the West: Past and Present.
  • Basic Concepts of Taoism
    Heaven -Man-Earth - The Wu wei (non-interference) Principle - Identity of Life and Death – Following the Way - Forces of Nature and The Five Elements – The Book of Changes - Taoism and Science – Taoism and Medicine in the Modern World- -Taoist Yoga, Chi-gong and Martial Arts – Taoism and Buddhism- Tradition and Progress – Learning and Creativity – Masters and their Schools
  • Confucianism as a Philosophy and the Ethical Guidelines
    Humanism (jen) as the Basic Principle –The Role of Cultural Heritage – Compilation of Five Classics and their Functions in the Teaching – Concepts of Loyalty and Filial Piety – Concept of a Noble-minded Man (junzi) – Concept of a Righteous Ruler
  • Concept of Social Harmony and Peaceful Administration in Confucianism
    Analects (Lun-yui) by Confucius – Confucianism in China as a Pillar of Social Life – Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism in Japan – Ideals of Bushido – Confucian Labor Ethics Today
  • Zen Aesthetics and its Role in Japanese Culture
    Perception of Zen in the West – Suzuki Daisetsu and his Works in Europe and America – Proliferation of Zen in Western Literature, Music and Painting. – The Triumph of Oriental Martial Arts in the West. Japan and the West - Periods of Cultural Interaction – Christian Age and Orandagaku in the Edo Period – Meiji Restoration and influences from Western Culture
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Discussions during seminars and lectures
  • non-blocking Exam
  • non-blocking Essay
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.2 * Discussions during seminars and lectures + 0.4 * Essay + 0.4 * Exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Alex Mintz, & Dmitry (Dima) Adamsky. (2019). How Do Leaders Make Decisions? : Evidence From the East and West, Part A. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=2107620

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Entangled East and West cultural diplomacy and artistic interaction during the Cold War edited by Simo Mikkonen, Giles Scott-Smith, Jari Parkkinen. (2019). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.51225849X