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World Philosophies: India


Admission requirements

  • This course is mandatory for first-year students enrolled in the BA programme Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives.

  • The course is available as an elective for BA students SSEAS.

  • A limited number of places is available for students from other departments. They should contact the Coordinator of Studies


The course is an introduction to the several of the most influential philosophical schools and thinkers in premodern India. The course is organized around five topics: epistemology, that is the philosophical investigation of knowledge; metaphysics, that is the study of what exists; philosophy of language, that is the study of the relation between language and reality; ethics, that is the study of morality; and aesthetics, including the philosophical study of beauty and emotion. Specific topics to be discussed include justification and the means of right knowledge (pramāṇas), the role of scripture in knowing, the existence (or nonexistence) of a self (ātman); the existence of a supreme being (īśvara), theories of linguistic signification and the study of virtuous character. Philosophical schools to be discussed include Buddhism, Nyāya, Vedānta, Yoga, Sāṃkya, as well as a sampling of the philosophical insights contained in the Vedas and Upaniṣads.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have gained:

  • a basic understanding of the insights of many of the most influential schools of philosophy in the Indian premodern period;

  • basic familiarity with the historical background out of which Indian philosophical debates arose.

Students who successfully complete the course will:

  • be able to engage with philosophical reasoning and arguments presented by the authors of the most influential schools of philosophy in the Indian premodern period;

  • have improved their ability to interact with philosophical ideas, both in active participation during class, and in written work in the form of take home exams.


The timetable is available on the BA Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives website

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load: 5 EC x 28 hours = 140 hours

  • Attending lectures (14 weeks x 3 hrs): 42 hours

  • Preparation of classes and study of the compulsory literature: 73 hours

  • Completing take home exams: 25 hours

Assessment method

  • Midterm take home exam with one or more essay questions (50%)

  • Final take home exam with one or more essay questions (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the two subtests.


There is one resit for this course. It consists of a take home exam oith one or more essay questions over all the material covered. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term or final tests. The mark for the resit replaces any partial result. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

To be announced

Reading list

To be announced


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S.E. Harris