Undergrad Courses on Jain Studies

The Department of Philosophy

PHIL 0010 Concepts of Human Nature (23525)
Raja Rosenhagen
TH 11:00-11:50
India is home to one of the oldest philosophical traditions and the sets of conversations that constitute Indian philosophy span several millennia. In this introductory course, we begin by locating Indian philosophy in the global philosophical landscape and discuss ways of engaging with it. Next, we will get a sense of the lay of the land that is classical Indian philosophy by introducing various early schools and traditions. More specifically, we will look at both primary and secondary sources to examine some materials from the Upaniṣads, Buddhism, and Jainism. In the second half of the course, we will introduce various Indian philosophical positions on topics of particular interest, viz. the theory of knowledge, various Indian conceptions of the self (or non-self), and conceptions of liberation, karma and, relatedly, right action.

*Pending approval this course will be listed as PHIL 0280 Introduction to Indian Philosophy

PHIL 1770 Indian Philosophy. Jain Philosophy in Context (31841)
Raja Rosenhagen
TH 2:30-3:45
Jainism is one of the oldest religious and philosophical traditions in India. Though produced around the same time as, if not some time earlier than, the Buddha’s teachings, the teachings of Mahāvīra and his followers are much less in the limelight of current philosophical discussion than their Buddhist or Vedāntic counterparts. In this course, students will get the rare opportunity to look closely at the philosophical questions that Jains have been grappling with for millennia, probe the fascinating answers, concepts, and tools they bring to the global philosophical conversation, and get excited about possible cross-cultural projects that arise from engaging with various issues with a Jain perspective in the mix. 

After an introduction to the origins and history of Jainism, we will spend the first half of the course to get a sense of Jain metaphysics. More specifically, we will look at their views on what there is, on the soul, on the nature and workings of karma, and at their approach to the pan-Indian project of liberation. As we do, we will contrast their views with counterparts in other philosophical traditions (both Indian and western) and appreciate arguments for and against various of the conceptions offered.

The Jain conception of liberation motivates taking a closer look at Jaina epistemology, logic, and ethics, and at the interesting ways in which these areas relate to one another. Doing so is the topic of the second half of the course, in which we will investigate a) the doctrine of the many-sidedness of reality (anekāntavāda), along with what are often taken to be its epistemic and semantic corollaries: the epistemic perspectivalism (nayavāda) and the conception of relative assertability (syādvāda), and b) the Jain’s primary ethical precept of non-harming or non-violence (ahiṃsā). In the final weeks, we will explore some ways of using elements of Jaina philosophy to intervene in various contemporary philosophical discussions.

The Department of Religious Studies offers Jain studies courses open to undergraduates. Not all of these courses are taught annually.

RELGST 0505: Religion in Asia
Cross-listed with HIST 0755
Meets requirements for those admitted prior to 2018: International/Foreign Culture Non-Western, Comparative - International/Foreign Culture
Meets requirements for those admitted fall 2018 and after: Cross-Cultural Awareness

This course serves as an introduction to the major religious traditions of South and East Asia. During the course of the semester, we encounter Hinduism and Jainism; the native Confucian, Daoist (Taoist), and popular traditions of China; and the Shinto, folk and new religions of Japan. Buddhism, which originated in India but later spread to East Asia, is examined in its relation to the history of both Chinese and Japanese religions. We approach these traditions through lectures and discussion based on Chinese classical and popular literature, secondary scholarship, and films, which inform us about cultural and historical context, beliefs, practices, and personal experience. In the process we expect to learn something about the ways in which non-Western religious traditions see themselves and their world on their own terms, and to see how/if they can complement our own worldviews.

RELGST 1500: Religion in India
Cross-listed with HIST 1757
Meets requirements for those admitted prior to 2018: International/Foreign Culture Non-Western, Regional - International/Foreign Culture
Meets requirements for those admitted fall 2018 and after: Specific Geographic Region

Why did Muslim artists paint scenes from Hindu epics? Why do Hindus share the management of an important Buddhist temple? Why do some people claim Jesus studied yoga in India? Religion in India will explore the answers to these questions and more as we examine the dynamic relationships between the subcontinent’s many religious traditions. This course presents students with an opportunity to study important literary works describing epic adventures, philosophical dialogs, and forbidden love in their historical context. We will also learn the complex legacies of these works in art, music, film, politics, and everyday life.