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Thinking across continents

Coordinator: H. Westerink
Prerequisites and accessibility: https://www.ru.nl/courseguides/fftr/bachelor-pps/access-pps-courses-modules/
Period: Semester 1, period 1 and 2


The interactions and the relationships between the continents are in a process of rapid change. Since the modern era, Europe, or in a wider sense the West, has had a dominant position in the world. The West both expanded its economic interests and spread its philosophical, religious, cultural and political ideas, values and institutions all over the world through the processes of colonialization, imperialism, mission, and development aid. These ideas, values and institutions were regarded as having universal validity, not just by Europeans, but also by many who lived outside Europe.

Over the past century, as large swathes of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania were decolonized, this Eurocentric global order has been radically reshuffled. Non-western societies have begun to challenge the imposition of Western ideas and ways of thinking, and related forms of identity. The products exported by the West are no longer accepted as self-evident and universal. Due to ‘the Rise of the Rest’ (Fareed Zakaria) the world is entering a new era, in which the dominance of Eurocentric/Western philosophical, religious and political perspectives of geopolitics, and global cultural and moral values are no longer taken for granted. Non-European thinkers have responded to these perspectives in varying ways, such as incorporating them within traditions familiar to them or productively rejecting them.

This module will explore the critique of Eurocentric/Western thought, the conditions for intercultural philosophizing, and the consequences of the global power shift for the exchange of cultural and religious ideas and values. One course will focus on intercultural philosophy, African philosophy and Islamic philosophy. A second course will explore the exchange between Europe/the West and East and Southeast Asia, and the third course will look at the relationship between Europe and the Arab World through an introduction of Edward Said’s seminal critique of Orientalism and a case study of the social and intellectual shifts that shaped modern Egypt.

Period Course Course ID Credits
1 & 2 Intercultural Philosophy FTR-RSBAI303 5
1 & 2 Europe and the Far East FTR-FIPPSB303 5
1 & 2 Europe and the Arab World FTR-FIPPSB304 5
Module code: FTR-MI-FI123-22