Debates, Methods and Themes in World Philosophies

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

This module is designed to expose students to one of the core foundational principles of a world philosophies programme, which is that to genuinely study philosophy and gain a broad, balanced and comprehensive understanding of the issues therein is to go beyond a hegemonic and myopic understanding of philosophy to a study of philosophy as a universal human experience and practice.

The course will introduce you to the key debates, methodological challenges, and major themes that have emerged since the deliberate or non-deliberate recognition of other philosophies beyond the predominant Western philosophy in global academia in the last seven or so decades. Some of the debates to be examined include the place of place in philosophy, the inter, universality and particularities of philosophy, the question of the criteria for philosophising, and the supremacy contest. The question of method is also examined focusing on such topics as dialogue, comparison, self-critique and language.

The module will also introduce students to introduced to key world philosophical traditions such as Chinese philosophy, Western philosophy, African philosophy, Islamic philosophy and Indian philosophy, highlighting core themes in these traditions.  The module concludes by examining how students can approach practical and theoretical philosophical issues such as bioethical issues, gender issues, queer issues and epistemological issues from a world philosophical perspective.

Thus, this module would prepare students for topics and thematic issues they would encounter in other modules throughout the programme and in everyday life.

Objectives and learning outcomes

  • Describe philosophy as a human and global practice and critique any narrow and hegemonic conception of philosophy.
  • Explain and analyse the debates and methodological issues ensuing from the study of world philosophies in academic philosophy.
  • Explain the basic nature and primary concerns of different world philosophies such as African philosophy and Chinese philosophy.
  • Develop basic skills to analyse and evaluate practical and theoretical issues of philosophical interest using perspectives and theories from various world philosophical traditions.

Scope and syllabus

  • Week 1:  Beyond Hegemony: Philosophy as a Universal Human Experience and Practice
  • Week 2: Critical Debates I: The Place of Place and the Inter in Philosophy
  • Week 3: Critical Debates II: Accents and Centrisms in Philosophy
  • Week 4: Critical Debates III: Who Defines what Philosophy Is?
  • Week 5: Critical Debates IV, V and VI: The Language, Comparison and Gender Problems
  • Week 6: Introducing Western Philosophy: Key Themes
  • Week 7: Introducing African Philosophy: Key Themes
  • Week 8: Introducing Chinese Philosophy: Key Themes
  • Week 9: Introducing Islamic Philosophy: Key Themes
  • Week 10: Term Highlight: Summary and Feedback

Method of assessment

  • AS1 Creative Portfolio (1500 words) 40%
  • AS2 Essay (2500 words) 60%

Suggested reading

  • Blocker, Gene H. (1999), World Philosophy: An East-West Comparative Introduction to Philosophy, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.
  • Deutsch, Eliot and Bontekoe, Ron (1999), A Companion to World Philosophies, Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Inc.
  • Edelglass, William and Garfield, Jay L. (2011), The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Imafidon, Elvis (2019), Between the Ingredients and the Dish as such: Philosophy in places and beyond, Britta Saul (trans.), Zwischen den Zutaten und dem Gericht als solchem: Philosophie an Orten und Daruber hinaus, Polylog, special issue on the inter, 40: 19-35.
  • Janz, Bruce (2004), Philosophy as if Place Mattered: The Situation of African Philosophy. In Havi Carel and David Gamez (eds.), What Philosophy is, London: Continuum.
  • Mungwini, Pascah (2015), Dialogue as the Negation of Hegemony: An African Perspective, South African Journal of Philosophy, 34: 395-407.
  • Onyewuenyi, Innocent C. (1987/2005), The African Origin of Greek Philosophy: An Exercise in Afrocentrism, Nsuka, Nigeria: The University of Nigeria Press.
  • Park, Peter K. J. (2013), Africa, Asia and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780-1830, New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Smith, Huston (1957), Accents of the World’s Philosophies, Philosophy East and West, 7.1&2: 7-19.
  • Solomon, Robert C. (2001), “What is Philosophy?” The Status of World Philosophy in the Profession, Philosophy East and West, 51.1: 100-104.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.