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Conceptions of Knowledge in India and China


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • Bachelor's students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives who have passed the first year and have furthermore obtained at least 10 EC of the mandatory components of their second year, including Language of Thought, and Concepts of Selfhood.

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed their first year, and who have also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including Comparative Philosophy, and Analytische filosofie or Philosophy of Mind.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


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.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

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%


The resit will consist of 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

Students will receive feedback on course presentations within one week of completing them.
Students will receive feedback on their research papers within 14 days, at the longest, of completing them.

Reading list

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

  • Course syllabus will be distributed via Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis for this course is not possible. 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.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

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


Not applicable.