Philosophy CIS-L&S-MADA


Course Objective

The focus of this course will be on ‘intercultural philosophy’. The
following goals are central:
• You will get insight into how philosophers/philosophy help(s) to
understand one’s own culture and that of others;
• You will acquire tools to critically question the universal claims to
reason of ‘Western’ thinking;
• You will practice, with support of the working groups, the art of
reading philosophical texts.

Course Content

We live in a time of increasing contact between different cultures. The
opportunities, as well as the problems this brings are traceable in all
academic disciplines, but especially in the humanities. To take note
this course aims to investigate:
• The philosophical-historical roots of Western culture and of those it
defines as ‘other’.
• The philosophical conditions for intercultural dialogue

For starters you will get a short introduction into philosophy as it is
commonly taught – as the abstract reflection on knowledge and reality,
that began in the culture of ancient Greece. Socrates, Plato and
Aristotle are some of the philosophers from that age that almost
everyone has heard of. In the age of Enlightenment (the 18th century),
philosophy is defined as the universal reason that is expressed in
modern European institutions as national politics, the economy and in
science and technology. By that time the paradox arises that the culture
of the modern West understands itself as the global and universal
culture per se. When in the 20th century colonized peoples are starting
to liberate themselves from the domination by their European colonizers,
the work of philosophers like Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon plays an
important role in the development of a new self-awareness in those men
and women who had been made out to be unfit to share on their own terms
in the West’s universal reason. In the fifty years after decolonization
we then see a discussion taking place in philosophy about the following
• Is human reason universal and one, as Western philosophy claims,
making non-Western thinkers the ones who can work themselves into it, or
is Western philosophy’s claim to universality false, and is it just the
expression of a certain culture in a certain time? And:
• If philosophy is the expression of a certain culture, how about her
rationality? Is reflection then not dependent upon historical and
geographical contingencies? And:
• If philosophy varies according to the culture she is interconnected
with, how is it possible that people from different cultures can
understand each other in a rational manner?

Intercultural philosophy occupies itself with these and other similar
questions. In this course they will be dealt with, and we will look
especially at African philosophy as a case for the discussion.
Especially in Africa, that has become so narrowly involved with European
history over the past centuries, the confrontation and dialogue with
European thought has been met extensively. Although this is a philosophy
course, the kind of questions you will learn to pose are relevant for
any academically trained person. To mention just an example: you will
not be able to see a twitter slogan like ‘je suis Paris’ again without
being aware how the complex question of a claim to universality from
this specific historic culture – the modern European one – hides in it.
You will gain a critical attitude that will enable you to reflect more
deeply on your own presuppositions and the questions you bring to a
certain job or research matter.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and seminars. In total 8 hours per week.

Method of Assessment

Assignments for the seminars (30%) and Final Essay (70%). A low grade
for one component can be compensated by a high grade for the other
component. End grade has to be at least 5,5.


Digital reader (see course manual).

Target Audience

Students of CIS, L&S, MADA (2nd year).

Additional Information

Obligatory 2nd year course. Attendance of classes is obligatory. If a
student misses a class, s/he has to do an extra assigment. Complete
procedure is described in the study guide of the course.

General Information

Course Code L_YABAALG201
Credits 6 EC
Period P3
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. A.C.M. Roothaan
Examiner dr. A.C.M. Roothaan
Teaching Staff dr. A.C.M. Roothaan
S.M. Valkering

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: