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Medieval Islamic Epistemologies


Admission requirements

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Concepts of Selfhood, Language and Thought, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East, OR including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Logic, Epistemology or Philosophy of Science, Language of Thought.

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including Griekse en Romeinse filosofie, History of Modern Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Analytische filosofie or Philosophy of Mind, OR including History of Modern Philosophy, Logica, Epistemologie or Wetenschapsfilosofie, Analytische filosofie.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package D.


Central to all philosophical traditions, east and west, is the question: how can I come to know? Philosophical communities and literate societies, in the past and at present, have developed an array of epistemologies, that is, modes of knowing and coming to know of things and realities. Whereas contemporary epistemologies are imbued with heavy doses of logical positivism where only the empirical is true and real, in the learned circles of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Persian philosophical traditions, however, the modes of knowing were plentiful, variegated, and not confined to the empirical.

The aim of this course is to study and understand in detail the different modes of knowing and epistemologies in the Arabic and Persian philosophical traditions and to acquire familiarity with the historical and philosophical contexts that gave rise to debates on epistemology in the Middle East. Students will attend to wide-ranging topics on epistemology, such as the rational, theological, empirical, scriptural, mystical, occultist, and imitative.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a familiarity with:

  • some of the major philosophical traditions in the medieval Islamic period.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically reflect on, distinguish between, and examine key varieties and aspects of philosophical argumentation;

  • exhibit the analytic skills necessary to comprehend the relevance of the past to their understanding of the present, while becoming more familiar with their own assumptions and values;

  • acquire a set of reading and discussion skills that allow them to engage texts and others in an informed and conscientious manner.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Weekly essays, 1000 words (20%)

  •  Midterm exam (40%)

  • Final exam (40%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above).


The resit consists of one examination, consisting of a paper. The mark for the resit replaces all previously earned marks for subtests. Class participation and completion of practical assignments are required for taking the resit.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

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.

Reading list

To be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.