CHT 3513/REL 3938/MEM 3931 (07CE) Taoism and Chinese Culture All readings are in English.
Course Description Taoism (now often written “Daoism”) is a Chinese cultural tradition focused primarily on methods, strategies and communities for individual and socio-political integration with the totality of reality, including its transcendent dimensions. Taoism encompasses a broad array of moral, social, philosophical, religious and cultural ideas, values, and practices. Like other religions around the world, Taoism included some contemplatives, whose orientation often seems attractive to modern people— particularly to Westerners looking for alternatives to their own cultural traditions. In this course, you will learn that Taoism is an ancient and immense tradition of great subtlety and complexity. You will see how its many dimensions evolved to answer the needs of people of different periods and different propensities, and you should learn respect for, and understanding of, the teachings and practices of all those people. Taoism is not some abstract “timeless wisdom” that simply consists of a set of warm, fuzzy ideas. Rather, Taoism is a specific set of cultural traditions that evolved within the historical context of ancient, medieval, and modern China, evolving to meet the spiritual needs of people in specific historical situations. The multi-sources and complexity of Taoist belief systems and ritual practice, and the influence of Taoism upon Chinese thought, religion, art, culture and society will also be covered.