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History of Philosophy




Admission Requirements

This is a compulsory General Education course for all first-year students. There are no prerequisites for this course.


One of the key problematic in the kind of liberal arts and sciences programme offered by LUC is that of the ways in which knowledge has been created, organised, and legitimised throughout history and across the world. To help initiate students into the process of thinking about how historical and cultural contexts have shaped what it means to be knowledgeable in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences—as well as the meaning and parameters of those categories themselves—this course considers how the shape and significance of critical ideas have changed over time and through space, and thus inspects the history and sociology of philosophy and science.

Course Objectives

The history of philosophy presented in this course tracks major developments and paradigm shifts in a gradual set of beliefs, methods, and positions which have been proposed and scrutinized over long periods of time to emerge into their current forms. These forms will likely give way to future directions we cannot yet fathom, and this course encourages us to understand the context in order to anticipate and imagine the revolutionary thoughts to come.

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with major movements in the history of philosophy;

  • distinguish among factual, attitudinal, and verbal disputes in philosophy;

  • construct premises and conclusions for inductive arguments;

  • identify common fallacies in philosophical, especially logical, reasoning; and

  • recapitulate and evaluate various schools of philosophical thought.

Mode of Instruction

Each teaching week of the course (Weeks 1 – 7, and 9 – 15) will consist of:

  • One 1-hour interactive lecture on Monday evening on the weekly topic, with reading and web-posts due prior to the lecture; and

  • One 1-hour seminar later in the week for discussion of the weekly topic.

A BlackBoard site will support the lectures and seminars, as well as host virtual interaction with the course material. Do check our course site regularly for up-to-date reading assignments, multi-media material, and announcements. For further details of how the course will proceed, see sections below on “Assessment” and “Weekly overview”.


Participation: 20%
Ongoing assessment of your constructive and active engagement with course materials, through attentiveness in lecture and discussions in seminar from Weeks 1 – 14.

Web-postings: 20%
Continuous assessment of your written articulation of questions, concepts, and arguments, through 250-word guided reflections on the weekly topic, due prior to each lecture from Weeks 1 – 11.

Group presentation: 20%
Assessment of your ability to apply the concepts and ideas covered in the course, organize them coherently with your peers, and articulate them clearly and cohesively, through one 20-minute group presentation on one of the topics from Weeks 12 – 14, as designated in seminar.

Final take-home examination: 40%
Assessment of your comprehension of all course material, through a take-home examination in Week 16.


There is no set textbook for the course. Assigned readings will be made available on BlackBoard. While many of the primary texts are in the public domain, you may wish to purchase your own hard copies for future reference and reflection.

For an introduction to (Western) philosophy (to which this course is not limited), you may find the following general reference texts useful:

  • Nigel Warburton, A Little History of Philosophy (Yale University Press, 2011).

  • Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2010).

  • Roger Scruton, A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein (Routledge, 2001).

Contact Information

Dr. Cissie Fu: c.fu@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

Week 1: What is it to “love wisdom”?
Week 2: What is truth?
Week 3: What is knowledge?
Week 4: What is belief?
Week 5: What is reason?
Week 6: What is intention?
Week 7: What is action?
Week 8: [no classes]
Week 9: What is logic?
Week 10: What is metaphysics?
Week 11: What is epistemology?
Week 12: What is ethics?
Week 13: Philosophy of Religion: Historical tensions between Luther and Leo X
Week 14: Philosophy of Science: Historical tensions between Copernicus and Galileo
Week 15: Philosophy of Language: Historical tensions between Austin and Wittgenstein
Week 16: [no classes]

Preparation for first session