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Indian Philosophy


Admission requirements

The course is open to all genuinely interested students, especially from Philosophy and South and Southeast Asian Studies. Courses such as Introduction to Hinduism and Introduction to Buddhism might offer useful background knowledge.


The course is an introduction to the several of the most influential premodern Indian philosophical schools, including various traditions of Buddhism, Jainism, Yoga, Vedānta, Sāṃkya, Nyāya, the so-called Kahmir Shaivism as well as early philosophical ideas found in the Vedas and Upaniṣads. It aims at broadening the philosophical and cultural horizons above and beyond the Western intellectual sphere by opening up a dialogical situation with the ‘other’ of premodern India. The course is organized around five topics: epistemology, that is the philosophical investigation of knowledge; metaphysics, that is the study of what exists; philosophy of language, that is the study of the relation between language and reality; ethics, that is the study of morality; and aesthetics, including the philosophical study of beauty and emotion. Specific topics to be discussed include justification and the means of right knowledge (pramāṇas), the role of scripture in knowing, the existence (or nonexistence) of a self (ātman); the existence of a supreme being (īśvara), theories of linguistic signification and the study of virtuous character. The relevance of these ideas to contemporary philosophy will also be a recurring topic throughout the course.

Course objectives

  • Students will gain a basic understanding of the insights of many of the most influential schools of philosophy in the Indian pre-modern period.

  • Students will be able to engage with philosophical reasoning and arguments presented by these authors.

  • Students will develop the ability to relate Indian methods of argumentation to their own fields of study.

  • Students will gain basic familiarity with the historical background out of which Indian philosophical debates arose.

  • Students will improve their ability to interact with philosophical ideas, both in active participation during class, and in written work in the form of take home exams.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Classes (13×2) and exams (2×2): 30 hours

  • Reading: 60 hours

  • Revision and preparation for exams: 50 hours

  • Total: 140 hours (5 EC x 28 hours)

Assessment method

2 written examinations: one written examination (w) at the end of the first block (40%) and one written examination with essay questions (we) at the end of the second block (60%).

The individual exams cannot be retaken. If the average of both exams is 5.49 (=5)or lower, there is one opportunity for a re-sit of the entire course (100%).

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.



Reading list

The texts to be read are announced at an introductory meeting.


Students of the BA program South and Southeast Asia Studies and of the BA Philosophy are required to register through uSis before August/January 15. To avoid mistakes and problems, 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 “Act.nbr.”.

Other students are requested to send an email to the study co-ordinator including their name, student ID number, course title and prospectus or catalog number. Depending on the availability of places, the study co-ordinator will register these students after August/January 15. By September/February 1 at the latest the student will be able to see in uSis whether (s)he is registered or not.

Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte.


Dhr Dr. D. Cuneo
Dhr. Dr. S.E. Harris


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).