Great Minds of the East
(Great Minds of the East)

The men and women whose ideas have shaped the traditional cultures of Asia still have an impact on most of the world's inhabitants to this day; therefore, a basic understanding of Asian thought is indispensable for anyone traveling to that part of the globe, trying to made sense of international politics, or interacting with people and products with roots in Asia, or even for those who simply want a fuller picture of the human condition. It is not possible anymore to study only Western thought and history and then claim one knows everything necessary. The world is a smaller place than it used to be, and the variety and richness of the Eastern intellectual tradition is breathtaking.

This course is therefore an introduction to the most significant thinkers in Asian history. It is eclectic, with attention given to influential figures in philosophy, religion, history, literature, political science, and technology, from ancient times until the coming of the West. I will be talking about people and ideas that are relatively familiar such as Sunzi and his Art of War, Daoism, Yoga, Zen, Gandhi, and Mao, but also some that are virtually unheard of in the West, though they are all celebrated in their own lands (and deserve to be better known elsewhere).