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Philosophy of Culture


Admission requirements



The course proposes an overview of the main theories of culture. It begins by addressing the question “what is culture” by paying particular attention to the views of culture as Society (Rousseau, Locke), as Bildung and cultivation (Kant, Herder, Humboldt, Nietzsche) as Weltanschauung, as habitus (Mauss, Bourdieu) and as Episteme (Foucault). It then moves to a discussion of the anatomy of culture: how are cultures established (Rousseau, Nietzsche, Freud)? How do they transform themselves (Weber) and interact with each other (Postcolonial studies, Feminism, Pragmatism)?

Course objectives

The course aims to acquaint the students with the key theories, problems and arguments of the philosophy of culture. It presents a critical overview of the canonical answers to the questions “What is a culture?” and “How a culture constitutes itself”?

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

  • the main definitions of cultures (including culture as cultivation, episteme, worldview and history);

  • the main arguments aout the constitution of cultures;

  • the conceptual constraints to the projects of inter/multiculturalism.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand, comment and interconnect the major texts and theories relative to culture;

  • present a consistent view of the basic points of disagreements about culture and its constitution;

  • propose and defend both in writing and orally, basic arguments pertaining to any section of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2015-2016, BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject or Standaardtraject), eerste jaar (first year).
See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2015-2016, minor Ethiek, politiek en cultuur: filosofie van het menselijk handelen

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Course Load

Total course load: 5 EC x 28 hrs = 140 hours

  • Attending lectures: (14 weeks x 3 hrs): 42 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 34 hours

  • Preparation lectures: 18 hours

  • Preparation assignments: 40 hours

  • Time for completing the take home exams: 6 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term take-home exam, made of a series of short questions and one short essay question (taken from a list of four) (35%)

  • Final take-home essay, dealing with the entirety of the course (one question taken from a list of three) (65%).


  • One resit will be offered, covering the entirety of the course material, consisting of a take-home essay on one imposed question taken from any section of the course.


We will use Blackboard for posting texts, general information documents (syllabus etc.), assignments and updates.

Reading list

A reading schedule, a syllabus and all the primary texts will be made available on Blackboard.


Please register for this course via Study administration system uSis
See also Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the collegerooster/timetable in the column under the heading “”.

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs
Registration Studeren à la carte


Dr. F. Chouraqui