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Non-Duality in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhism


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Philosophy, 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 of Thought, and Concepts of Selfhood.


Non-duality is a key notion in Buddhist philosophy. According to Buddhist texts, one enters the gate of non-duality upon realizing the ultimate nature of reality. Nevertheless, Buddhist philosophers have never reached a consensus over how to define this very concept. Does the negation of duality lead to absolute oneness or to the middle way? Is non-duality, since it nullifies subject-object dichotomy, simply ineffable? In answering these questions, this course invites students to study different forms of non-duality that further entail and epitomize the Buddhist view of knowledge, language, reality, and self-other relationship. Students will also explore how philosophers exercise their agency to creatively interpret non-duality in the local cultural and linguistic context, which not only contributes to cross-cultural communications inside Asia but also facilitates dialogues between Asian and European philosophers.

Course objectives

This course aims to:

  • explore ways of theorizing binaries and non-duality in a cross-cultural and multilingual context;

  • encourage intercultural studies of dialectical thinking.

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

  • different types of binaries and different forms of non-duality;

  • philosophical articulations of non-duality as integral parts of people’s worldview.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • Engage in comparative studies of non-dualistic thinking;

  • Familiarize themselves with different forms of non-dualistic thinking;

  • Critically analyze ideas and notions presented in primary and secondary resources;

  • Develop skills in academic writing and cross-cultural communication.


The timetable is available on the following website:

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending seminars (13 weeks x 3 hrs): 39 hours

  • Reading literature and preparation for class: 120 hours

  • Preparation for assignment(s) and paper(s): 100 hours

  • Preparation for seminars: 21 hours

Assessment method


  • Final essay

  • Prepared questions

  • Attendance and participation in course discussion


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

  • Final essay: 55%

  • Prepared questions (to be further explained in the syllabus): 35%

  • Attendance and participation: 10%


The resit will consist of an opportunity to resubmit the final semester paper that was not sufficient. The grades for other exam components remain in place.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the course 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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Instruction and communication;

  • Posting links for readings

  • Uploading additional materials, e.g. PowerPoints slides.

Reading list

The reading list will be posted on 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.


Dr. J. Li


Not applicable.