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Comparative Philosophy


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


This course will introduce students to philosophical work done within the Indian and Chinese traditions, with particular attention to ancient and classical Indian (Buddhist and Brahmanical) and Chinese (Confucian and Daoist) philosophical thought. Topics to be covered will include ethics, metaphysics, ethics and philosophy of religion (broadly conceived). A secondary aim of the course will be training in working with texts comparatively, that is by drawing upon ideas from more than one cultural tradition. To facilitate this, we will work thorough Tim Connolly’s 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.

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.


The timetable is available on the BA Wijsbegeerte website
BA Wijsbegeerte 2016-2017 (BA Plus-traject or Standaardtraject), eerste jaar.

Timetable BA Religiewetenschappen

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

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

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

  • Preparation of classes and study of the compulsory literature: 73 hours

  • Completing take home exams: 25 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term: written exam with short open questions and a couple of longer essay questions (50%)

  • Final in two parts: 1) written exam with short open questions; 2) take home with essay questions (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (midterm, final test). A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


The resit consists of one examination (in two parts) for both written components. 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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • posting of texts and announcements

  • discussion

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).


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for and exams in the column under the heading “uSis-Actnbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Dr. S.E. Harris


Not applicable.