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Language and Thought


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is is restricted to BA students in Philosophy who have been enrolled in the Global and Comparative Philosophy track.


This course will introduce the student to the major perspectives on language in the classical Indian and Chinese philosophical systems that were concerned with it. In the Indian tradition, the language analysis of the Brahminical Grammarians, Vedic Exegetes, Logicians and Vedantins, along with Buddhist Logicians, will be examined. In the Chinese tradition, the views of language held by classical Confucians, Mohists, Daoists and the School of Names will be surveyed. Given that classical Sanskrit and classical Chinese were such radically different languages with such distinctive grammatical and logicial structures, students will gain an appreciation of the wide variety of ways that philosophies of language were formulated in ancient South and East Asia. But, since the examinations of each tradition will be mediated through various comparative perspectives, students will also learn how Asian philosophies of language may contrast with or resonate with western approaches to philosophical language analysis.

Course objectives

This course aims to acquaint students with the most prevelant philosophical approaches to conceptual and linguistic analysis found in ancient and medieval Indian and Chinese philosophical schools.

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

  • how the structures of ancient languages influence philosophies of language;

  • how concepts and arguments are formed through reflections on language;

  • the centrality of the philosophy of language for Indian and Chinese though.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • examine philosophy of language in a broad, global perspective.


See: BA Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives

  • Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspective - BA2

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials

Class attendance is required for both lectures and tutorials.

Course Load

Total course load 5 x 28 hours = 140 hours

  • Attending lectures (13 x 2 hours): 26 hours

  • Attending tutorials (13 x 2 hours): 26 hours

Further calculation of the course load to be announced.

Assessment method


  • Two written, take-home examinations with essay questions

  • Prepared questions for lectures

  • Attendance and Participation in Course and Tutorial Discussions


Midterm take examination: 40%
Final take home examination: 40%
Tutorial or Lecture Questions: 12%
Attendance and Participation: 8%


The resit consists of one examination for all parts at once, consisting of a take home examionation. The mark for the resit replaces all previously earned marks for subtests.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • student take-home assignments and grade reporting;

  • posting syllabus, announcements about class-related matters and materials.

Reading list

  • Course textbook: course readings will be provided through library reserves and Blackboard

  • Course syllabus will be distributed via Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof.dr. D.L. Berger


Not applicable