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Conceptions of Knowledge in India and China


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to BA students in Philosophy who have been enrolled in the Global and Comparative Perspectives track, who have successfully completed their first year, and also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including:

  • Language and Thought

  • Concepts of Selfhood


This course will engage students in the major debates about what was considered knowledge in the classical Indian and Chinese traditions. Special attention will be paid to the debates about pramanas or “means of knowledge” among the ancient Indian schools of Logic, Vedic Exegesis, Vedanta and Buddhist Logic, and to performative conceptions of zhi among classical Confucians, Mohists, Daoists and Legalists. The class will thoroughly familiarize students not merely with the spectrum views about knowledge among classical Indian and Chinese philosophers separately, but also with the divisive debates about what constitutes knowledge within each of these cultural heritages.

Course objectives

This course aims to acquaint students with the most prevelant philosophical conceptions of knowledge found in ancient and medieval Indian and Chinese philosophical schools.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • how knowledge was variously conceived in classical India and China;

  • the relationship between conceptions of knowledge and forms of argument;

  • the theoretical and practical approaches to knowledge and their relationship.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • examine conceptions of knowledge in cross-cultural perspective.


See: BA Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives

  • Philosophy, BA3 - Global and Comparative Perspectives

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending lectures or seminars (13 x 3 hours): 39 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 120 hours

  • Preparation seminars: 30 hours

  • Preparation assignment(s): 11 hours

  • Writing paper: 80 hours

Assessment method


  • Written, take-home examination with essay questions (paper)

  • Prepared questions for lectures

  • Attendance and Participation in Course and Tutorial Discussions


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests:

  • Final Semester Paper 55%

  • In-class Presentations: 25%

  • Lecture Questions: 12%

  • Attendance and Participation: 8%


Resit will consist of opportunity to resubmit the final semester paper that was not sufficient.The grades for other exam components emain in place.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the course 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 student take-home assignments and grade reporting;

  • to post syllabus, announcements about class-related matters and materials.

Reading list

  • Course textbook: course readings will be provided through library reserves and Blackboard

  • Course syllabus will be distributed via Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

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.


Prof. D.L. Berger


Not applicable.