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Department of the Study of Religions

Religious and Philosophical Ideas of Ancient and Medieval India

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Full Year
The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to the conceptual world of classical Indian philosophical discourse, covering such questions as the nature of Being, the identity of the Self, the relationship between reality, cognition, and language, and the prospects for spiritual liberation. This year, special emphasis will be given to the Nyùya-Vai"eÂika, SùÇkhya, and Advaita Vedùnta systems. 


The course requires no previous knowledge of Philosophy, Indian religions, or South Asian Studies. Over the first five weeks, students will acquire the basic conceptual framework needed to assimilate the more advanced materials introduced beginning in week 7.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

Upon successful completion of the course students:

  • will be acquainted with many of the fundamental issues of philosophical speculation and debate that have informed the religious discourse of Hinduism;
  • will have developed specific logical and analytical skills that will allow them to comprehend basic philosophical arguments and test their validity;
  • will have acquired the conceptual vocabulary to examine in detail the specific relationship between abstract, systematic thought and the formulation of religiously significant propositions.

Method of assessment

2 x Coursework (100%)

Suggested reading

  • Hiriyanna, M. Outlines of Indian Philosophy. 1932. 
  • Halbfass, W. On Being and What There Is: Classical Vai"eÂika and the History of Indian Ontology. 1992. 
  • Potter, K.H. Presuppositions of India's Philosophies. 1991