Fall 2022 - PHIL 150 D100

Great Works in the History of Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 7723

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 7 – Dec 6, 2022: Mon, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Sep 7 – Dec 6, 2022: Wed, 2:30–3:20 p.m.



A survey of some classic texts in the history of philosophy. See the course outline for more detail on the specific figures and themes covered. Open to all students. Students with credit for PHIL 151 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


In this course you will learn about classic philosophical texts from Asia. Each week we will cover a different text and discuss the philosophical issues it raises. The texts all deal with understanding the nature of the world and how you should live. We will read excerpts from classics from India (the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita), China (Kongzi, Mengzi, Laozi, and Zhuangzi), and also trace the spread and development of Buddhism (through figures like Nagarjuna, Shantideva, and Dogen).

Though these texts are from very different places and times, the focus will be on their claims about the nature of reality and how one should live. Topics will include: the nature of the self, the relationship between the social and mental worlds, and uses and limits of conceptual thought, among others.

Note: If you took PHIL 357 Fall 2020 you are not eligible to enroll in this course. No prerequisites.


PHIL 150 may be applied towards the Certificate in Liberal Arts and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.

After taking this course you will not only be familiar with a range of classic texts from a variety of cultures in Asia, but you will also:

- Understand the philosophical insights, issues, and major concepts of each text
- Better understand specific issues surrounding translation and interpretation
- Be able to read and understand philosophical classics from Asia in a responsible way on your own

Videos: Why Study Philosophy? and Meet our professors!


  • Participation: This means doing your part to make lectures and discussions beneficial. This means things like showing up and listening, asking questions, following up on what others have said, and in general contributing to an atmosphere where people can learn. (Needless to say it also means not being rude, mean, or disruptive!) 10%
  • Passage Analysis: Towards the end of the course there will be a passage analysis assignment. For this you will return to one passage from one of the primary texts we discussed in class and write up a short discussion of it. The assignment will guide you through reflecting on what the passage says and what it means for a reader today. 30%
  • Weekly Responses: Weekly responses will make up the bulk of your grade. They will involve reading passages from the text for that week and thinking through the issues raised in the text. There is no final paper so it’s very important that you do them well. These will appear in canvas after class on Monday and are due by midnight the following Monday. There will be twelve of these and I will drop your worst two. 60%



A Guide to Asian Philosophy Classics by Puqun Li (ISBN: 978-1554810345)

All other readings will be posted online.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project in place from Spring 2021 to Summer 2023. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, honours, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html