World Philosophies in Context

Key information

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

Module overview

‘World Philosophies in Context’ introduces students to some of the major themes in philosophical thought across the globe as they have emerged within particular social and political environments.

The module emphasises philosophy is a lived social practice: to understand the productive energy of a region's philosophical traditions and ideas is to understand philosophy's place and function within its unique socio-political environment. Students will identify key themes around which philosophical debate in a given context has developed, and then explore what is at stake in the development of certain ideas and the disagreements between various thinkers.

The purpose of the module is not to provide a comprehensive survey of world philosophies, as that it is impossible over 11 teaching weeks, but to encourage students to explore the diverse forces in response to which we shape human thought.

Objectives and learning outcomes

  • Identify key themes within the philosophical traditions of India, Japan, Africa, and the Islamic world, and Europe.
  • Explain philosophical ideas of these traditions within their historical, political and social contexts.
  • Evaluate the relationship between speculative ideas and the socio-political contexts in which they arise, circulate, and develop.

Scope and syllabus

Week 1: Introduction, motivation, and overview of the module

Week 2: What is ‘World Philosophy’? Unlearning and New Learning

Week 3: On the Orientalisation of Islamic Philosophy

Week 4: Introduction to Jainism

Week 5: Introduction to Egoless Perspectivism

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7: Introduction to 20th-Century Japanese Philosophy (Nishida Kitarō and the Kyoto School)

Week 8: Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy in Colonial India

Week 9: Introduction to Native American Philosophy

Week 10: Introduction to African Philosophy

Week 11: Workshop

Method of assessment

  • One essay of 1,000 words OR video essay or multimedia presentation (5 minutes, 3 pages/slides)-(30%)
  • One essay of 2,000 words OR video essay or multimedia presentation (10 minutes, 5-10 pages/slides)-(70%)

Suggested reading

  • Edelglass, W. and Garfield, J.L. (eds.) 2011. The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.