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Philosophies of the World


Admission requirements

Required course:

  • History of Philosophy


This course provides an historical approach to mostly non-Western philosophical and religious ideas. The course will proceed from some of the earliest significant texts in the ancient world and continue on to consider more recent developments. One of the key issues in the kind of liberal arts and sciences program offered by LUC is the way in which knowledge has been created, organized, and legitimized throughout history and across the world. The goal is to help initiate students into the process of thinking about how historical and cultural contexts have shaped what it means to be knowledgeable.

A bit about our starting point: The 6th century BCE marks a watershed in the history of human achievement. For example, it was around this time that Confucius and the Buddha lived, and the earliest of the Upanishads transitioned from a purely oral tradition. In the course of considering various schools of thought, it will be interesting to notice not only their shared histories and their divergent paths, but also some peculiar trends and goals that many of them have in common.

Students should be prepared for extensive reading, thinking, and writing, as well as active participation and engagement with the readings in the classroom, if they would like to do well in this course.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with some major movements in the history of philosophy and religion.

  • Critically reflect on and examine both shared and diverse human experiences so that they can recognize the similarities and differences across cultures as well as historical periods.

  • Exhibit the analytic skills necessary to comprehend the relevance of the past to their understanding of the present, while becoming more familiar with the perspective of their own cultural assumptions and values.

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


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Each group meeting of the course will consist of a 2-hour online interactive discussion on the scheduled topic, with the week’s reading to be completed prior to the meeting. This course depends heavily on group discussion of significant primary texts. Additionally, there will also be one other point of contact each week (in written form, through audio/video-recording, or individually via video call) that will provide background, and introduce key issues and interpretations. Students should join in the discussion (in person during the group meetings or individual video calls, or via email) at any time, asking questions, making suggestions, or making comparisons with other texts we have read. For each meeting, each student should mark out a short passage (1-3 sentences) from the day’s reading that especially stood out.

Assessment Method

  • Participation and attentiveness in class discussions, 19%

  • Four individual reflections/web posts (250-300 words each), 19%

  • One “mid-term” essay (1000 words), 22%

  • One final short answer exam (during reading week), 40%

Reading list

Required texts (and I do mean required):

  • The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha, translated by Carter and Palihawadana (Oxford University Press, 2008).

  • The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, translated by Ames and Rosemont (Balantine Books, 1999).

  • Upanisads, translated by Olivelle (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Others may be made available online.

Recommended texts:

  • Joel Kupperman, Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts (Oxford University Press, 2006).


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Adam Buben: