Liberal Arts Literacy Core Course: An Exploration to the Original Spirit of Western Philosophy

Philosophy is to think and reflect upon the spirit of the different eras. It is the inheritance and maintenance of humanistic value. Quality education at the undergraduate level with special focus on philosophical thinking allows students to be better analysts and problem-solvers. Students need to broaden their horizons, strengthen their sense of innovation and cultivate noble characteristics. This development is extremely important.

Since the start of 2006, Professor Wang Xiaochao, Associate Professor Zhu Donghua and Professor Tian Wei from the Department of Philosophy at School of Humanities have been responsible for the teaching and developments of a course for undergraduate called “An Exploration to the Original Spirit of Western Philosophy.” Through exploration of ancient Western philosophers, their teachings and ideas, students are able to note down the differences in thought-process, knowledge and understandings between East and West. Their teaching content begins with the philosophy-religion-culture relationship. The curriculum design is based on the four dimensions of “truth, kindness, beauty and holiness” so that students are exposed to the spirits of rationality, science, ethics, aesthetics and religion. Greek philosophy, the theoretical system of Plato, Cicero, Augustine and other thinkers, are explained so that students have better grasp of the nature of the Western spirit.

The three professors are responsible for the curriculum design and teaching methods for this unique course. Along with their teaching assistants, the course was broken down into “lectures” and “tutorial sessions.” There are 14 lectures which will allow students to complete the basics in the course and 5 tutorial sessions where students will be provided opportunities for discussion and exchange. Throughout this process, Tsinghua’s eLearning System and an independent website were used for online teaching.

Through this instructional design, students from different faculties are exposed to this unique philosophical atmosphere. The teachers prepare the lessons and students sit in a semi-circle as if they are like the ancient Greeks, debating, sharing and discussing ideas in their beautiful Amphitheatre. The teachers accept questions and guide students to engage in real exchanges. 10 teaching assistants will be asked to guide 40 students each so that philosophical exchanges and sparks can take flight.

The course “An Exploration to the Original Spirit of Western Philosophy” is well received by students at Tsinghua. In 2010, the course won the First Prize in Teaching Achievement Award of Tsinghua University and the method of small class tutorials has also been promoted throughout the campus.


    Office of Academic Affairs



    Spotlight Group



    Weiyuan Min



    Li Na 



    Zhao Xin, Yin Xia, Zhang Geming, Zhang Zheng



    Wang Yin, Zhang Ying