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Comparative Philosophy (with tutorials)


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to first-year BA students in Philosophy who heve been enrolled in the BA Plus-traject.


Comparative philosophy, also known as cross-cultural philosophy, is philosophy that draws significantly upon at least two different philosophical traditions. In this course, in addition to work from ancient Greek and contemporary analytic philosophy, we will read works from the Indian Buddhist and Chinese (Confucian and Daoist) philosophical traditions. Although we’ll read these works for their own sake, throughout the semester we’ll also discuss issues about how to work with texts from very different traditions alongside each other. To facilitate this, we will work thorough Tim Connolly’s new textbook Doing Philosophy Comparatively. Issues discussed will include the question of what a philosophical tradition is, whether all philosophy is (in some sense) comparative and the possibility of incommensurability between cultures and traditions. The guiding question for the whole course will be how to work productively with texts from multiple traditions together.

Course objectives

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

  • the basic philosophical tenets of Indian Buddhism and Chinese philosophy;

  • how to work with texts comparatively at a beginning to intermediate level;

  • some of the major difficulties and the advantages of working with different philosophical traditions comparatively.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • read primary texts (in translation) from a range of philosophical traditions with the confidence needed to analyze, reconstruct and critically evaluate key arguments in them;

  • participate in class discussions in such a way that they make intelligible and well-reasoned claims or responses to questions raised;

  • write clear and detailed reconstructions of specific arguments from primary texts.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2015-2016, BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject), eerste jaar.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures (with discussion): 2 hours

  • Tutorials: 2 hours

Class attendance is required for lectures and seminars as well as tutorials.

Course Load

Total course load (5 EC x 28 hrs): 140 hours

  • Attending lectures and tutorials: (14 weeks x 4 hrs): 56 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature (14 weeks x 3,5 hrs): 49 hours

  • Time for completing assignments: 15 hours

  • Time for completing take home exams (2 × 10 hrs): 20 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation in tutorials and Web-assignments: 20%

  • Mid-term (take home) exam: 30%

  • Final (take home) exam: 50%


The resit consists of one examination (in two parts) for both written components. No resit is possible for participation and web-assignments. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term test. The resit covers the entire course content and the mark will replace previously earned marks for subtests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used for texts, announcements, and discussion, as well as for web-assignments before each class.

Reading list

  • Gethin, Rupert. 1998. The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. (Required).

  • Mengzi. 2009. The Essential Mengzi. Translated by Bryan W. Van Norden. Hackett Publishing. (Required).

  • Connolly, Tim. Doing Philosophy Comparatively. Bloomsbury Press. (Required).


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 timetable in the column under the heading “”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S.E. Harris