Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts East vs. West Philosophers Smackdown

East vs. West Philosophers Smackdown

Oklahoma C3 Standards addressed:
• Content Standard 1: The student will analyze and summarize the impact on the modern world of the major world religions and the philosophical political principles of ancient and classical societies.
o Compare using specific textual evidence the contributions of Greek and Roman philosophers to political ideas using selections from Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics, Cicero’s On the Republic and On the Laws, and their impact on later political thought in Western societies.
o Examine the origins, traditions, beliefs, and impact of Confucianism and Daoism including how those ideas and beliefs influenced Asian civilizations into the modern eras.

AP World History Key Concepts addressed:
• Confucianism’s core beliefs and writings originated in the writings and lessons of Confucius and were elaborated by key disciples who sought to promote social harmony by outlining proper rituals and social relationships for all people in China, including the rulers.
• In the major Daoist writings, the core belief of balance between humans and nature assumed that the Chinese political system would be altered indirectly. Daoism also influenced the development of Chinese culture.
• The core ideas in Greco-Roman philosophy and science emphasized logic, empirical observation, and the nature of political power and hierarchy

AP Habits of Mind Addressed:
• Constructing and evaluating arguments: using evidence to make plausible arguments.
• Using documents and other primary data: developing the skills necessary to analyze point of view, context, and bias, and to understand and interpret information.
• Enhancing the capacity to handle diversity of interpretations through analysis of context, bias, and frame of reference.
• Developing the ability to compare within and among societies, including comparing societies’
reactions to global processes.
• Developing the ability to assess claims of universal standards yet remaining aware of human commonalities and differences; putting culturally diverse ideas and values in historical context, not suspending judgment but developing understanding.

– Compare the philosophies or Ancient Asia with those of Ancient Greece and Rome and how the effected the developments of modern governments.
– Analyze how philosophies both reflect and shape the culture which they come from and influence other cultures (TIE INTO KOREAN SOCIETY)

Pre Smackdown Activities
• Students will have read the appropriate textbook chapters dealing with the Chinese, Greek and
Roman developments in philosophy
• Students can have already read Platos’s Allegory of the Cave, selections from Cicero, The
Confucian Analects, and the Tao Te Ching
• Group students in 4 groups and assign each group one of the Philosophers and give them time to research
o Due to lack of availability of access to our Media Center I usually assign this a week in advance so they can work at home and then give them 25-30 minutes in class to get organized.
o I tell them the while researching to focus not too much on the background of the individual philosopher but on their beliefs on the following:
– The role of government
– Leadership (what makes a good or bad leader)
– Family

– Room is set up in a ring (four desks in the ring in each corner) other desks behind each corner by group.
– Each person in the group will bring in research that will be checked (I stamp them just for
completion) those how did not bring research lose the right to participate and can only advise.
– All students must participate to get the participation points for the activity.
– For each round one person is in the ring. They may “tag out” but then they move to the back of the line.
– The teacher must set the time for each round and be the referee/announcer—it is the teacher that brings the excitement to the ring (using phrases like “oh my body slam by Confucius can Plato come back from that blow?” –I have even used music and crowd sounds to add to the fun)
– Each round starts with a quote the first philosopher to make noise with the whistle/bell goes first and then around the ring for set amount of time (I usually do 5 minutes for each quote)
– No attempt to keep score is needed (the kids usually do that on their own) they usually just enjoy the competition. Along the way the come to an understanding of what the similarities and differences are in the different philosophies.

1. Discuss with students what they have learned about each philosophy, how it affected the culture it came from.
2. Have students write 1-2 paragraphs answering the following
a. In what ways do you still the effect of these ancient philosophies in today’s political and educational world.
3. Throughout the semester ties what is going on in society back to these beliefs.

Have students do a short research project on the one Asian Country (Korea, China, Japan) and analyze how their philosophies still effect their culture and education and compare it to the United States and what they know.


  • Stacy Higbe
  • Moore High School
Related History Institute
Grade Level
  • High School: 10
Time Frame
  • 2 ½-3 Class periods (not including previous days when various Philosophy was discussed or documents read outside of class)

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