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Department of Philosophy

Philosophy grapples with fundamental questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and how we ought to act. Whether in the Indian or Western tradition, answers to these questions have been supported by rigorous arguments. Our courses offer a historically sensitive immersion in these arguments. Nevertheless, the philosophy major at Ashoka University aims to equip students to work beyond the parochialism of either the Indian or Western philosophical tradition to do philosophy without boundaries.


The philosophy major will equip students with critical reasoning and analytical problem-solving skills, expressive precision, and the intellectual spaciousness to appreciate and engage rationally with arguments and points of view with which they profoundly disagree. The Ashoka Philosophy graduate will be well prepared for higher studies in philosophy or a career in e.g. media, law, business, or consulting.


For inquiries, email the philosophy department at philosophy AT ashoka DOT edu DOT in.


Below are current and past faculty in philosophy at Ashoka.

Philosophy Credentials & Associated Requirements

What follows are the details of the requirements and components of the various credentials offered by the Philosophy Department. Each credential is associated with a specific combination of distribution requirements. In line with these requirements, a student pursuing the respective credential must take a certain number of courses in certain areas of study within philosophy - in particular: Indian & Non-Western Philosophy, History of Western Philosophy, and Contemporary Core


Philosophy students, especially those majoring in philosophy, should consider taking at least one contemporary core course that falls in the domain of Ethics or Aesthetics and at least one contemporary core course that falls in the domain of Metaphysics or Epistemology. Though this suggestion constitutes no hard requirement, it is motivated by the thought that a well-rounded undergraduate education in philosophy should involve exposure to both these important areas of philosophical thinking.


See below for a list of courses standardly offered, organized by category. At the end of this page is the course archive: a complete list of philosophy courses currently offered and courses that have been offered at Ashoka with details about which requirements they serve to satisfy.


An elective is a philosophy course a student takes that does not fulfill a distribution requirement for them. Such a course can be either a course from the Elective Only category or it is a course that would serve to fulfill a distribution requirement, but does not in fact serve to fulfill any such requirement because all the requirements have been or will be met by other courses taken. Any course other than the required courses - Intro to Philosophy and Symbolic Logic - can in principle count as an elective.


Philosophy Credentials
Philosophy Major


To complete a Philosophy Major, students must take twelve philosophy courses. These must include

  • the two Required Courses (Introduction to Philosophy and Symbolic Logic),

  • two courses from the Indian & Non-Western Philosophy category,

  • two courses from the History of Western Philosophy category,

  • three courses from the Contemporary Core category, and

  • three electives (see above).

The Philosophy Major can be completed as the student's declared major during their UG studies. It can also be completed in the Ashoka Scholars Programme (ASP). In the latter case, meeting the requirements specified above for the Philosophy Major will lead to a Second Major Equivalent in Philosophy.


Advanced Major


The Advanced Major in Philosophy can only be earned during the ASP. To complete this credential, students must have taken sixteen philosophy courses overall, including

  • the two Required Courses (Introduction to Philosophy and Symbolic Logic),

  • two courses from the Indian & Non-Western Philosophy category,

  • two courses from the History of Western Philosophy category,

  • three courses from the Contemporary Core category, and

  • seven electives.

By default, Philosophy courses students take in their ASP should be at the 3000- or 4000-level (exceptions should be approved by the HOD). Two of these courses must involve completing a Capstone Thesis (see below). Doing this involves taking the Capstone Research Seminar in the Monsoon and supervised individual thesis writing in the Spring for 4 credits each.


Philosophy Minor


To complete a Philosophy Minor, students must take six philosophy courses, including

  • the two Required Courses (Introduction to Philosophy and Symbolic Logic),

  • one course from the Indian & Non-Western Philosophy category,

  • one from from the History of Western Philosophy category,

  • one from the Contemporary Core category, and

  • one elective.



A student completing a Concentration in Philosophy must take four philosophy courses, including

  • the two Required Courses (Introduction to Philosophy and Symbolic Logic), and

  • two further courses in two different categories from among the following: Indian & Non-Western Philosophy, History of Western Philosophy, and Contemporary Core.

PPE Major 


The PPE Major is an interdisciplinary major between Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics. Students declaring and completing this credential during their UG studies must complete 116 credits total (instead of the 100 credits required for the completion of a pure major). A student pursuing a PPE Major must take at least four philosophy courses.

  • PPE Major students taking four philosophy courses must complete the same requirements as a student completing a Concentration in Philosophy. 

  • PPE Major students taking five philosophy courses must complete the same requirements as a student completing a Concentration in Philosophy plus one elective

  • The requirements for PPE Major students who are taking six or more philosophy courses are the same as those for the Philosophy Minor

Note that students cannot both major in PPE and minor in philosophy. Students may, however, major in PPE with a specialization in philosophy by fulfilling the requirements for the minor and taking two additional philosophy courses. See the PPE page for more details about the PPE Major.


Students completing a PPE Major can also expand their Philosophy-specific credentials to a Second Major Equivalent in Philosophy during their ASP year by taking the courses that remain towards the completion of the Philosophy Major requirement. 


Capstone Thesis


The Capstone Thesis is a mandatory part of the Advanced Major in Philosophy, but it can also be pursued independently in case a suitable advisor is willing and available. The Capstone Thesis is the length of a standard journal article (15-20 pages) and of publishable quality. The credits for the Capstone Thesis are divided into 4 credits in the Monsoon semester (Capstone Research Seminar) and 4 credits in the Spring (completion of the thesis). Students must obtain approval from a faculty member (plus, potentially, from a second advisor who may be external) who will act as their thesis supervisor near the end of their 3rd year. They are advised to begin to contact potential advisors in their 3rd year, register for the ASP Capstone Thesis via LMS early on, and start thinking about their thesis, in coordination with their advisor(s), in the summer before their ASP year.


To successfully complete the Capstone Thesis, the student must defend their thesis orally before the end of the spring semester. These defenses are open for students to attend and must be attended (in person or, if necessary, via Skype) by their advisors. At least two Ashoka philosophy faculty members should be present. Students must submit a defense draft of their thesis to their advisors at least one week prior to the scheduled defense date, and submit a revised draft (if required) after the defense, by a date determined by the committee.  The students are responsible for forming their thesis committee, for arranging a defense date that will work for every member of that committee, and for adhering to all deadlines related to the Capstone Thesis.


MLS Thesis


MLS students who have been accepted as advisees by a Philosophy faculty member work on a MLS Thesis in Philosophy. The allocation of the 8 credits is analogous to that of the Capstone Thesis. In the Monsoon semester, students pursuing a MLS Thesis join students pursuing a Capstone Thesis in the Capstone Research Seminar. By default, the same deadlines and regulations that apply to the latter also apply to the former. If the MLS graduation is significantly later than the ASP graduation date, the dates of the defense of the MLS Thesis and the date of final submission of the written thesis may be shifted accordingly.

Symbolic Logic


A student may pass an exam in Symbolic Logic administered by the philosophy department in lieu of taking Symbolic Logic only if that student has taken a college-level course covering the majority of the content covered in Symbolic Logic. Such a student must then take an extra elective towards the various philosophy credentials outlines above in lieu of the Symbolic Logic course. The eligibility of each student is determined by the chair in consultation with the student's academic advisor on a case-by-case basis.


UGTA credits


Throughout their trajectory as undergraduate or ASP students, students can earn up to 4 credits through serving as a TA (2 credits will normally be given for each course). These credits will typically count as electives and 4 TA credits will be the equivalent of having taking one elective.

Major Courses

A major course is a course that is offered by the philosophy department that may be used to satisfy the requirements of one of the majors or minors outlined above. Each major course falls into exactly one of five categories: (1) Required, (2) Indian & Non-Western, (3) History of Western, (4) Contemporary Core, and (5) Everything Else.

1. Required Courses

Introduction to Philosophy
This introductory course is the gateway course for the philosophy major. It provides a problem based introduction to philosophy, drawing on solutions offered in both the Indian and Western traditions. Topics may include personal identity, the nature and limits of knowledge and how we ought to act. The course is offered every spring term by various instructors. The following is the description of the course as taught by Prof. Aditi Chaturvedi:

“There are nowadays professors of philosophy but not philosophers…yet philosophy is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live.” In this course, we will take Thoreau’s words seriously and read a range of philosophical texts with an eye not just to mastering the language and methods of philosophy but also seeing why philosophy matters in our everyday lives. You will be introduced to the major branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics through texts from various time periods and philosophical traditions. We will look at fundamental philosophical questions not only for the sake of answers but also for the sake of the questions themselves. We will see why even the most abstruse of these questions is significant and merits our serious reflection.


Symbolic Logic
This course is an introduction to symbolic deductive logic, which is concerned primarily with the study of valid deductive inference. It introduces the student to the formal languages of sentential logic (in which the fundamental units of analysis are sentences) and first-order predicate logic (in which the fundamental units of analysis are terms and predicates). It covers translation of sentences of English into these formal languages. It also introduces the student to a number of important logical concepts, including validity, tautology, contradiction, equivalence, and consistency. Finally, it covers several important tools for showing when these concepts do and do not apply, including truth tables, truth trees, models, and derivations. The course is offered every monsoon term.

2. Indian & Non-Western

Introduction to Indian Philosophy
This course introduces the so-called 'Six Schools of Classical Indian Philosophy': Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika, concerned with Logic and Epistemology, Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta, involving exegesis of the ritual and spiritual sections of the Veda, and Sāṃkhya and Yoga, concerned with the theory and practice of meditative absorption. It then looks at Jainism, the materialism and scepticism of the Cārvākas, and the four schools of Indian Buddhist Philosophy.


Themes in Indian Philosophy
A survey of some key themes in classical Indian philosophy: value, knowledge, reasoning, word, world, self and ultimates. Students will both encounter something of the wide range of classical Indian philosophical concerns, and also learn to address the argumentative details of the Indian debates on these topics.


Indian Metaphysics and Epistemology
This course will look at some of the philosophical positions taken by the realist schools of Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Mīmāṃsā and Jainism, and the arguments used to support them against Buddhist idealism and nominalism. The specialization of Nyāya was logic and epistemology, that of Vaiśeṣika was ontology, and that of Mīmāṃsā was hermeneutics.


Indian Philosophy of Religion
The course will consider Indian arguments for and against the existence of God and the continuation of life after death. It will also examine what the various religio-philosophical traditions of India meant by liberation / enlightenment (mokṣa, nirvāṇa, apavarga, niḥśreyasa). Theistic and non-theistic theories of liberation will be contrasted, and a question that arose for the former – the relation of liberated souls to God – will be engaged with.


Buddhist Philosophy
This course will look at the four schools of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, Yogācāra and Madhyamaka) and the positions they took on issues such as the self, realism versus idealism, momentariness versus persistence, perception, inference, the existence of universals, the mind-body problem and the philosophy of language.


The course is structured chronologically, from the Classical Advaita Vedānta of Gauḍapāda, Śaṃkara and Mandana Miśra, to Vijñānabhikṣu, to Dharmarāja, to K. C. Bhattacaryya, Vivekānanda and Sri Aurobindo. We will examine Advaita Vedānta’s metaphysics, its theory of value, of self-realization, the role it gave to meditation, and its debates with other schools (including other varieties of Vedānta).


Sāṃkhya and Yoga
Classical Yoga lays out an eightfold psychological path to liberation, and Sāṃkhya offers an ontology and a cosmogony that was inspired by the Yogic practice of meditative absorption. The course will examine these systems and their debates with other schools, such as that between the Sāṃkhya /Yoga view that the world evolves by a top-down process from a primordial subtle matter, and the Nyāya/Vaiśeṣika view that the world is built up out of atoms.


Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava Philosophy
The course will investigate the Metaphysics, Epistemology and Soteriology of Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. On the Śaiva side we will concentrate on the non-dualistic tradition of Somānanda, Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta and Kṣemarāja. On the Vaiṣṇava side, we will concentrate on the two Vedāntic traditions of Viśiṣṭādvaita and Dvaita.


The Self in Indian Philosophy
Perhaps the primary point of contention in the debates between the classical Indian traditions of Philosophy was the question of the self. For the Brahminical schools we have, or rather are, an eternal immaterial soul. For the Buddhists, far from being eternal, we are something different in every single moment. For the Cārvākas we are merely the body. We will look at the debates between the various darśanas on this question of the existence and nature of the self. We will also draw on parallel debates in Western Philosophy.

3. History of Western

Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy

When we consider that no one actually believes that everything is made out of water or that women have fewer teeth or that slavery is natural or that fava beans contain souls, we might wonder why we’re even bothering with these 2500-year-old beliefs. You will, hopefully, leave this class with an answer to that question. We will consider questions relating to (1) how we should live as individuals and in societies (2) knowledge, belief, and scepticism, (3)causality and nature and, finally, (4) fate and freedom. In considering these questions we will see not only how Plato, Aristotle, and their followers radically shaped the trajectory of later thought but also how the questions they raised and the answers they provided continue to challenge us, guide us, and broaden the problem-space of philosophy.


Early Modern European Philosophy

Much of the philosophy that emerged during the early modern period (17th and 18th centuries) can be seen as a response to the sceptical challenge to knowledge as well as to the challenge to find a scientific method appropriate to the study of the natural world. In this course we will see how philosophers such as Cavendish, Conway, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, du Chatelet, Berkeley, Hume and Reid responded to these challenges. We will consider among other questions: what distinguishes knowledge from mere opinion?; what is causation?; what or who is God?; what is the relationship between the mind and the body?; do we have free will?


The British Empiricists
This course surveys the central theoretical works of John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and David Hume (1711-1776). We will focus on their contributions to epistemology and metaphysics. In particular, we will focus on their empiricism — that all ideas and knowledge must be derived from experience — and on Locke’s denial that there are joints of nature, Berkeley’s denial of a mind-independent world, and Hume’s denial of the self.


The Continental Rationalists
The three most influential proponents of rationalism have been Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and G.W. Leibniz. This course examines the development of their metaphysical and epistemological doctrines, which, in contrast to the British Empiricists, is distinguished by the extent of what they thought we could discern through reason alone. Topics include the distinctively rationalist treatment of philosophical method, skepticism, knowledge, the nature of substance, mind-body relations, and the metaphysical foundations of science.



This course is an introduction to Immanuel Kant’s epistemology and metaphysics through an intensive study of his Critique of Pure Reason. Topics to be covered include the relation between experience and concepts, the nature of space and time, the self and the unity of the thinking subject, and the doctrine of transcendental idealism.

4. Contemporary Core

Metaphysics concerns the nature of reality, considered at the most abstract and general level. This course covers classic and contemporary debates concerning existence, universals and particulars, causation, and identity.


Philosophy of Language
This course covers the key ideas and arguments developed in the philosophy of language concerning meaning and reference since the seminal work of Gottlob Frege. These ideas have been very influential not only for the philosophy of language but for linguistics and the philosophy of mind. Topics include Frege’s puzzle, Russell’s theory of descriptions, the causal theory of reference, indexicals and demonstratives (Kaplan), and key distinctions such as between the analytic/synthetic (Quine, Strawson), referential/attributive (Donnellan, Kripke), and semantic/pragmatic (Grice).


This course provides an introduction to the theory of knowledge. In particular, we will focus on the nature, sources, structure and limitations of knowledge. Topics include the analysis of knowledge, the problem of induction, a priori knowledge, skepticism about the external world, sensitivity and safety, the regress of reasons, foundational vs. coherence views, and internalism vs. externalism.


Philosophy of Mind
This course surveys the mind/body problem, the nature of consciousness, and mental content. We start with the mind/body problem and Cartesian dualism. We will then critically explore a range of responses to the problem such as Ryle’s behaviourism, Smart’s identity theory, Davidson’s anomalous monism and Putnam’s functionalism (with special attention to Jackson’s Knowledge Argument against functionalism). We will then consider whether consciousness poses a problem for physicalism by looking at Kripke’s modal arguments and Levine’s explanatory gap. Lastly, we will consider whether intentionality is the mark of the mental and the internalism/externalism debate about mental content.


Philosophy of Perception
We ordinarily take perception to present the world to us. But illusions and hallucinations seem to show that this cannot be so. In this course, we will frame the problem of perception and critically assess influential responses to it. We will canvass a range of views of the metaphysics of perceptual experience, such as idealism, the sense datum theory, adverbialism, intentionalism, and naive realism. We will also assess the consequences of these views for the epistemology of perception. We will draw on material from Strawson, Moore, Ducasse, Anscombe, Harman, Peacocke, Martin and Travis among others.


Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science is a (comparatively) young sub-discipline of philosophy. Its aim is to reflect on the fundamental concepts and conceptions, aims, methods, and presuppositions of the various sciences and of the scientific enterprise in general. Questions that fall into the purview of Philosophy of Science include: What distinguishes science and scientific knowledge from pseudo-science, ordinary knowledge and, perhaps, from meaningless metaphysics? How are we to characterize scientific progress? Are there in fact atoms, superstrings, or properties like biological fitness and do these items exist in the same way as chairs, tables, human beings, and cars? What speaks in favor of, what against such a view? What is a scientific explanation? Is there a scientific method? Are scientific observations theory-dependent and would this be a problem? What is causation? Can scientific theories be inductively confirmed or falsified? 

In this course, we look at various of these questions and then explore philosophical issues that arise in the specific sciences. Possible areas of interest are e.g.: Philosophy of Space-Time, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, Philosophy of Evolotionary Biology, Philosophy of Nanoscience, Philosophy of History, and Philosophy of the Cognitive (Neuro-) Sciences.


Introduction to Ethics
This course is an introduction to the three main fields of ethics: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Students will learn about key contemporary debates in ethics and will read select important works in the history of ethics.


Normative Ethics
Normative ethics is about what is right and wrong, good and bad, and virtuous and vicious. This course will examine the three main theories in normative ethics: deontological, consequentialist, and virtue. We will learn the basics of these three theories, and then investigate topics like whether some are better than others, what sets the theories apart from each other, and whether other sorts of theories might make sense. Readings will be drawn from contemporary authors like Julia Driver, Onora O'Neill, Christine Korsgaard, and J.J.C. Smart.


Contemporary Ethics
This course surveys some of the major currents of contemporary ethical theory, such as anti-realism and non-cognitivism, subjectivism, consequentialism, and neo-Kantian contractualism. Topics include the nature of ethical value, desires and reasons for actions, and moral luck.


Political Philosophy
This course covers the central concepts of contemporary political philosophy: liberty (Mill, Berlin), equality (Williams, Cohen), justice (Plato, Rawls, Sen), rights (Locke, Hart), democracy (Rousseau) and authority (Hobbes). During the course, we will apply these concepts to debates regarding free-speech, secularism, and quotas/reservations.


Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

In this course we will undertake an examination of the key areas of contention in debates within western aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The issues that we will study include the definition of art, the ontology of artworks, aesthetic evaluation, and morality and art. Our class discussions will be supplemented with examples from the fine arts and we will also undertake field trips to museums, galleries, and performances in Delhi in addition to screenings and listening sessions on campus.

5. Elective Only

Modal Logic
This course provides an introduction to modal logic, with a special emphasis on the model theory of different systems of modal logic. In addition to the logics of necessity and possibility, the course covers the logics of belief and knowledge, of time, and of obligation. Topics include sentential and quantified modal logic, soundness, completeness, and characterization results for alternative systems. Modal logic has important applications in philosophy, theoretical computer science, and linguistics.


Advanced Logic
This course covers the most philosophically significant results of logic. Topics include Turing’s definition of mechanical computability, Gödel's first and second incompleteness theorems, and Tarski’s theorem for formalised languages.


Philosophy of Film
Selected topics in analytic philosophy of film, including film as art, the nature of film, documentary films, narration and emotion in film, film criticism, and films' relations to knowledge and morality.


Philosophy of Religion
Selected topics in analytic and continental philosophy of religion, such as personalism, variuos arguments in favor of the existence of god, atheism, religious epistemology, the nature of religious analogy, etc.


Philosophy of Law

Selected topics in legal philosophy, such as nature and legitimation of laws and obligations, the nature of legal reasoning, etc.


Foundation Courses

The following sections of foundation courses are offered by philosophy faculty. Every Ashoka student must take a certain number of foundation courses. They ensure that the education of every Ashoka student is sufficiently broad, familiarizing them with a wide array of the liberal arts. As such, foundation courses generally cannot count toward a student's major or minor. The philosophy department does not allow any foundation course to count toward a student's philosophy or PPE major or toward a philosophy minor or concentration. Different sections of the same foundation course may be taught by faculty from different departments. The course descriptions below are those which describe the courses as they are taught by the philosophy faculty. In the archive below, Foundation courses taught by philosophy faculty members are explicitly listed beginning from the Summer semester 2019.


Indian Civilizations: Literature, Religion and Philosophy (Watson)

The course is divided into four sections: philosophical ideas (Śāstra), epic (itihāsa), aesthetic literature (kāvya) and religions.  In the last category we will look at Śaivism, Vaiṣṇavism, Vedic religion, Buddhism, Jainism, Indian Islam and Sikhism, followed by indigenous critiques of religion. You will acquaint yourself with both primary sources (i.e. you will read some pre-modern Indian texts in translation) and secondary sources (i.e. you will read contemporary Indological scholarship, getting a sense of how experts in the field think about pre-modern India, its ideas and its practices).


Indian Civilizations: Contrasting World Views in Pre-modern India (Watson)
The course will be structured according to a series of contrasts: (1) Theism versus Atheism, (2) Self versus No-Self, (3) Knowledge (jñāna) v's Action (karma), (4) Brahmanical Purity v's Tantric Power, and (5) A series of mutually-related oppositions: this world v's the next world; life-affirmation v's life-denial; passion (rāga, śṛṅgāra) v's dispassion (vairāgya); eroticism v's asceticism.  We will examine how these contrasting views and values were articulated in the literature, philosophy and religion of Classical India.


Indian Civilizations (Saran)

This is a survey course of the major intellectual and cultural contributions of the Classical and Medieval eras in India. We will explore themes such as the conception of the human being (with a special emphasis on women), a human being's relation to itself, the social order and the cosmos. We will consider these themes through the lens of both the fundamental nature of reality and how one ought to act. We will also explore the relation between the erotic and the transcendent, primarily through poetry. Course readings consist of textual extracts from Vedic Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Classical Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and secular and religious poetry by men and women from both Sanskrit and non-Sanskrit traditions.      


Mind and Behaviour (Dixon)
This course focuses on the nature of personhood, and the boundary between persons and non-persons. What makes you a person? Is it that you are a rational being? Or that you have a mind? Or that you have free will or the capacity for language? Is it some combination of these things? Is artificial intelligence possible? Could there be non-human persons? These are some of the central questions we will consider in this course. We will scrutinise a number of philosophical theories which provide different answers to them. We will also look at a number of empirical debates relevant to these questions, such as how humans predict the behavior of others, and whether or not certain non-human animals, such as chimpanzees and bonobos, have the capacity for language.


Mind and Behaviour (Saran)
What kind of creature are you? A human being, no doubt. But what kind of creature is that? How ought such a creature live? We will critically explore influential models of human nature in the Indic and Western philosophical traditions and their implications both for how we ought to live and our place in the social world. We will also survey key psychological results that directly have a bearing on those philosophical models.

Mind and Behaviour (Chaturvedi)

In this course, we will look at some different theoretical models of human nature in the history of western philosophy, from antiquity until the present day. The course will be divided into three units: 1) politics, ethics, and human nature; 2) the self; 3) humans and non-humans.


Great Books: Democracy in Ancient Greece (Chaturvedi)

Democracy –  the word as well as the concept –  has its origins in ancient Greece. In this course, we’ll read, in translation, some of the greatest works of Greek tragedy (Euripides, Aeschylus), comedy (Aristophanes), epic and lyric poetry (Homer, Pindar, Solon, Hesiod), mythology, history (Thucydides, Xenophon), and philosophy (Plato, Aristotle) with the goal of better understanding the nature of democracy as well as its advantages and shortcomings. We’ll read some of the harshest critics of democracy as well as its staunchest defenders. We’ll examine the conditions – social, economic, political, and religious – that allowed democracy to flourish in ancient Athens and we’ll also examine the conditions that led to its downfall. We’ll spend some weeks immersing ourselves in Athens during one of the most tumultous periods in its democratic history – 403-4 BCE – by playing a ‘Reacting to the Past’ historical role playing game.* Understanding Greek democracy, in all its complexity, will also shed some light on modern democratic practices and ideals and, while this course will require us to temporarily place ourselves in the world of the ancient Greeks, we’ll never lose sight of the relevance of their debates for twenty-first century politics.  

*For more, see :


EVS: Environmental Ethics (Weltman)

This course will examine various topics in environmental ethics, like: conservation, extinction, climate change, ecodefense, pollution, and animal rights. Students will gain an overview of some of the key approaches to environmental ethics, including biocentrism, ecocentrism, ecofeminism, and deep ecology. The latter half of the class will focus on topics chosen by vote. 


Sample Curriculum Structure

This is a sample curriculum that operates on the assumption that students take 4 courses per semester only. And while taking 4 courses is mandatory in the first semester, students may take up to 5 courses each in semesters 2-8, which allows them to add up to 7 more courses, from Philosophy or from elsewhere. Students can also take additional courses during the summer sessions, in which Philosophy courses may be offered as well.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4 Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 Semester 8
Introduction to Critical Thinking Philosophy Course 1: Introduction to Philosophy Philosophy Course 2: Symbolic Logic Philosophy Course 4 Philosophy Course 7 Philosophy Course 10 ASP Capstone Thesis (research seminar) -[counts as Philosophy course 13] ASP Capstone Thesis (writing & defense) [counts as Philosophy Course 15]
Foundation Course 1 Critical Thinking Seminar Philosophy Course 3 Philosophy Course 5 Philosophy Course 8 Philosophy Course 11 Philosophy Course 14 Philosophy Course 16
Foundation Course 2 Foundation Course 4 Foundation Course 5 Philosophy Course 6 Philosophy Course 9 Philosophy Course 12 Elective Course Elective Course
Foundation Course 3 Gateway course in another discipline Elective Course Elective Course  Elective Course Elective Course Elective Course Elective Course

Note: Students will typically start by taking the two required courses (Intro to Philosophy and Symbolic Logic) and then take 2000 level courses. As they progress through the programme, they should begin to take 3000 level courses as well, typically in their 5th semester - earlier on request. 


Course Archive - Past , Present, Future

What follows is a complete list of courses offered by the philosophy faculty at Ashoka, except foundation courses, listing first future, then present, and then most to least recently offered courses. A two-letter code next to a course indicates whether it can count toward a distribution requirement (and if so which), or whether it is an elective only. The absence of any code indicates that the course cannot count toward the philosophy major. Syllabi for many of these courses are available from the instructors either on their personal websites or via email request.






Can count as Indian & Non-Western


Can count as History of Western Philosophy


Can count as Contemporary Core


Can count as Elective Only



Spring 2021
PHI 1000 Intro to Philosophy Saran RE
PHI 1000 Intro to Philosophy Watson RE
PHI 1000 Intro to Philosophy Weltman RE
PHI 1060 Symbolic Logic Snyder RE
PHI 2120 Epistemology Rosenhagen CC
PHI 2240 Philosophy of Science Dixon CC
PHI 2615 / PHI 2570 Existentialism and Ethics Martin CC or HW, not both
PHI 3241 Philosophy of Mathematics Snyder CC
PHI 3401 Indian Philosophy through the Eyes of Bimal Matilal Watson IN
PHI 3486 Kant's Political Philosophy  Weltman HW
PHI 3530 19th Century Philosophy Martin HW
PHI 4000 Topics in Advanced Metaphysics Dixon CC
PHI 4403 Self-Knowledge and Self-Deception Khanal IN


Note: Professor Saran teaches an FC Mind and Behaviour.



Monsoon 2020
PHI 1000 Intro to Philosophy Snyder RE
PHI 1060 Symbolic Logic Rosenhagen RE
PHI 2000 Intro to Metaphysics Dixon CC
PHI 2401 / PHI 2701 Moral Psychology of Emotions, taught comparatively Chakrabarti CC or IN, not both
PHI 2730 Intro to Ethics Weltman CC
PHI 3605 Care Ethics Dalmiya CC
PHI 3300 Advanced Philosophy of Language Snyder CC
PHI 4423 Advanced Plato: Republic Chaturvedi HW
PHI 4730 Advanced Ethics Weltman CC


Note: Professors Chaturvedi, Dixon, and Saran teach one FC Mind and Behaviour each, and Professor Chakrabarti teaches one FC Indian Civilizations.



Summer 2020
PHI 2715 Philosophy of Love Rosenhagen EO


Note: Professor Chaturvedi also teaches one FC: Mind and Behaviour.



Spring 2020
PHI 1000 Introduction to Philosophy Weltman RE
PHI 1000 Introduction to Philosophy Saran RE
PHI 2615 Existentialism and Ethics Martin CC
PHI 2391 Classical Indian Metaphysics Siderits IN
PHI 2300 Intro to Philosophy of Language Lima CC
PHI 3540 American Philosophy Haitos HW
PHI 3774 Political Theory; How We May All Live Together Miller CC
PHI 4190 Topics in the Philosophy of Perception Rosenhagen CC
PHI 4402 Metacognition in Indian Philosophy (with input from contemporary Cognitive Science) Siderits IN
--- Ethics and Technology Weltman CTS
--- Thinking and Arguing Critically: How the Philosophers do it Miller CTS
--- The Philosophy of Art and Beauty Haitos CTS
--- Philosophy of Mind Lima CTS


Note: Professors Martin and Saran also teach one FC each, 1x Indian Civilizations (Martin, with Prof. Rita Kothari), 1x Mind and Behaviour (Saran).



Monsoon 2019
PHI 1060 Symbolic Logic Rosenhagen RE

PHI-2546 (HW) / PHI-2807 (CC)

The Creation and Destruction of States: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Weltman

HW or CC, not both

PHI 2450 Early Modern Philosophy Chaturvedi HW
PHI 2772 Gandhi, Law & Civil Rights Movement: Globalizing Nonviolence Bilimoria CC
PHI 3403 Philosophies of India: Comparative Perspectives Bilimoria IN
PHI 4180 Topics in Philosophy of Mind Saran CC


Note: Professors Chaturvedi, Saran, Watson, and Weltman also teach one Foundation Course each: 1x Great Books (Chaturvedi), 2x Indian Civilizations (Saran, Watson), and 1x Environmental Studies (Weltman).



Summer 2019
CTS 167 / PHI 2870 Bad Music Chaturvedi EO


Note: Professor Chaturvedi also offered a Foundation Course (Mind and Behaviour).



Spring 2019
PHI 1000 Introduction to Philosophy Saran RE
PHI 2000 Metaphysics Rosenhagen CC
PHI 2120 Epistemology Rosenhagen CC

PHI 2547 / PHI 2610

How to be Free and Happy Martin

HW or CC, not both

CTS 153 / PHI 2665 Ethics and Technology Weltman CC
CTS 167 / PHI 2870 Bad Music Chaturvedi EO
CTS 152 / PHI 2951 Bullshit Chaturvedi EO
PHI 3360 Buddhist Philosophy Watson IN
PHI 3630 Metaethics Weltman CC
PHI 4549 / PHI 4831 Philosophy and Literature Martin HW or CC, not both



Monsoon 2018
PHI 102 Introduction to Indian Ontology and Epistemology Balcerowicz IN
PHI 103 Symbolic Logic Rosenhagen RE
PHI 204 Philosophy of Mind Saran CC
PHI 214 Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy Chaturvedi HW
PHI 215 Philosophy of Science Rosenhagen CC
PHI 310 Normative Ethics Weltman CC
PHI 404 Political Philosophy Weltman CC
PHI 406 Indian Epistemology Balcerowicz IN




Spring 2018
CTS 135 Human Flourishing Watson  
PHI 101 Introduction to Philosophy Chaturvedi RE
PHI 211 Existentialism and Ethics Martin HW or CC, not both
PHI 212 Political Philosophy Perrett CC
PHI 213 Critical Theory Gordon HW
PHI 401 Philosophy of Liberalism Gordon CC
PHI 402 Nineteenth Century Philosophy                                                                           Martin HW
PHI 403 Classical Indian Metaphysics Perrett IN




Monsoon 2017

CTS 227

Theories of Emotion


CTS 230

Buddhist Philosophy


PHI 103

Symbolic Logic


PHI 201



PHI 208/408

Ancient Political Philosophy


PHI 209

Intro to Ethics and Global Citizenship


PHi 305/405

The Self in Indian Philosophy





Spring 2017

CTS 149

Philosophy of Science


PHI 101

Introduction to Philosophy


PHI 203

Themes in Indian Philosophy


PHI 204

Philosophy of Mind


PHI 205



PHI 206



PHI 207

Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art


PHI 304

Moral Psychology





Monsoon 2016

CTS 220

Philosophy of Film



CTS 221

Early Modern Philosophy



PHI 103

Introduction to Logic



PHI 105

Introduction to Ancient Greek and Roman Philosopy



PHI 301




PHI 302




PHI 303

Philosophy of Perception





Spring 2016

CTS 114

Buddhist Philosophy


PHI 101

Introduction to Philosophy


PHI 201



PHI 202

Philosophy of Language


PHI 203

Themes in Indian Philosophy




Monsoon 2015

CTS 206

Philosophy of Mind



PHI 102

Introduction to Indian Philosophy



PHI 103

Symbolic Logic





Spring 2015

CTS 007




PHI 001

Introduction to Philosophy





Teaching Fellowships

Those with a four-year undergraduate degree in philosophy or, preferably, a master’s, who live in the Delhi area, and who are interested in acting as a teaching fellow for a course in philosophy may apply by sending to (1) a current CV, (2) a philosophical writing sample, (3) a reference letter from a professor who can speak to the applicant’s promise and/or experience as a teacher of philosophy, and (4) sample teaching evaluations (if available). The deadline for application materials for courses offered in the Monsoon semester is June 1. That for courses offered in the Spring semester is November 1. We expect to be able to notify applicants about the outcome of their applications by July 31 for Monsoon and December 30 for Spring. Teaching fellowships depend on enrollment and are not always available. Applicants will be contacted about any openings for which they are being considered.

Departmental Talks
  • 20 Mar, 2020, Michael Ruse (Florida State University), 1:30 p.m.: TBA [postponed until further notice]

  • 18 Mar, 2020, Raja Rosenhagen (Ashoka), 1:30 p.m.: "Predictive Coding, Cognitive Penetration, and Reformed Empiricism" [postponed until further notice]

  • 16 Mar, 2020, Kabir Singh Bakshi (Ashoka), 1:40 p.m. (UG Thesis Presentation / Conference prep): "Grounding Time Asymmetry" [postponed until further notice]

  • 4 Mar, 2020, Blake Hestir (Texas Christian University), 1:30 p.m.: "Plato on the Metaphysics of the Spoken Word" [cancelled]

  • 4 Mar, 2020, Niko Strobach (WWU Münster, Germany), 1:30 p.m.: "A German Fairy Tale as a Key to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus"

  • 19 Feb 2020, Alex Haitos (Ashoka University), 1:30 p.m.: "The Importance of the Idea of Appropriation in William James's Radical Empiricism"

  • 12 Feb, 2020, Akshath Jitendranath (VU Amsterdam), 1:30 p.m.: "Hard Choices: Neither Parity, Nor Incommensurability, Nor Incomparability"

  • 11 Feb, 2020, Juliana Lima (Ashoka), 6:10 p.m.: "Group Action and Indexical Beliefs"

  • 30 Jan, 2020, Michaël Fœssel (École polytechnique)1:30 p.m.: "Night and Democracy"

  • 29 Jan 2020, Arudra Burra (IIT Delhi Philosophy), 1:30 p.m.: "Fairness, Convention, and the Morality of Misrepresentation in Business and Professional Contexts"

  • 22 Jan 2020, Pragati Sahni (Delhi University), 1:30 p.m.: "The Status of Plants: A Brief Exploration of Early Buddhism and Jainism"

  • 11 Dec 2019, Tom Parr (University of Warwick), 1:30 p.m.: "Militant Vegetarianism"

  • 20 Nov 2019, Shishir Saxena (Ahmedabad University), 1:30 p.m.: "Conflicting Prescriptions and Prohibitions: The Deontic Logic of Mīmāṃsā"  

  • 13 Nov 2019, Anil Gupta (University of Pittsburgh), 1:30 p.m.: "Foundationalism and Empirical Reason"

  • 6 Nov 2019, Elay Shech (Auburn University, US), 1:30 p.m.: "Is there a viable anti-realist, selectionist explanation of the success of science?" [cancelled due to hazardous weather conditions]

  • 30 Oct, Gagan Deep Kaur, (Int. Centre For Inter. Res. in Human Studies (ICIRHS), Laurentian University): 1:20 p.m.: "Cognitive Impact of Code-based Design Representation in a Native Handicrafts Practice"

  • 16 Oct 2019, Purushottama Bilimoria (Graduate Theological Union), 1:30 p.m.: "The Last of the Indian Liberals and Silver Tongue of the Empire: Rt Hon V S Srinivasa Sastri: biosophical sketches"

  • 8 May 2019, Martin O'Neill (York University, UK): "Social Justice, Democratic Socialism, and Collective Capital Institutions: Rawlsian Justice in an Age of Inequality"

  • 2 May 2019, Adwait Parker (Stanford): "Asymmetry of Intuition and Kant’s Theory of Physical Space"

  • 1 May 2019, Alex Watson (Ashoka), "Some Buddhist Arguments for Consciousness as the Fundamental Reality"

  • 29 April 2019, Jayanti Jha (Ashoka), "A Theory of Promising", ASP Capstone Thesis Presentation

  • 29 April 2019, Ajay Verma (JNU), "Theorizing Mental States in Classical Indian Philosophy"

  • 25 April 2019, Rhea Narayan Kuthoore (Ashoka): "What a Coincidence!!!", ASP Capstone Thesis Presentation

  • 24 April 2019, Reetika Kalita (Ashoka), ""Nihilism in the Abuse of History: Finding Nietzsche in The Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life", MLS Capstone Thesis Presentation

  • 24 April 2019, Nishant Kauntia (Ashoka), "Nietzsche On The Role of Aesthetics in Coping with Nihilistic Despair", ASP Capstone Thesis Presentation

  • 24 April 2019, Anirban Mukherjee (North Bengal University): "Authenticity and the Social Self"

  • 23 April 2019, Vikas Srivastava (Ashoka), "Does Truth Lie in Love?", MLS Capstone Thesis Presentation 

  • 23 April 2019, Martin Lin (Rutgers): "Spinoza's Faith"

  • 22 April 2019, Neal Harris (Sussex): "Towards a deeper social critique: social pathology diagnosis from Rousseau to Honneth"

  • 17 April 2019: Anuk Arudpragasam (Columbia): "William James on the Suffering of Others"

  • 10 April 2019, Apaar Kumar (Ahmedabad University): "Kant on the Feeling of Existence: Considerations from Tetens and Feder" 

  • 4 April 2019, Eric Snyder (Smith College): "A New Puzzle Concerning the Acquisition of Number Concepts"

  • 3 April 2019, Kate Stanton (Yale): "'You Junkwagon!' The Semantics of 'You φ' Expressives"

  • 2 April 2019, Monima Chadha (Monash, Australia): "Depersonalisation and the Experience of Self: A Buddhist Analysis"

  • 23 March 2019: PhilCon

    • Bryan van Norden (Yale-NUS): "Learning from Chinese Philosophy" 

    • Rhea Malik (Jindal Global University): "From Kant to Critical Legal Studies: The Role of Ontology in Dignity"

    • Sharmishthaa Atreja (Delhi University): "Unpacking Disability"

    • Elias Koenig (Freie Universität Berlin/Yale-NUS): "Of Hearts and Kings. The Body Politic and Metaphor in Al-Farabi's Perfect State"

    • Shashi Motilal (Delhi University): "Alliances Beyond and Within the Human Realm: A Wakeup Call for Global "Well-being""

  • 27 February 2019, Elise Coquereau-Saouma (University of Vienna): "On the Advantage of Being Ignorant: Seeking Knowledge in Dialogue"

  • 26 February 2019, Mattia Salvini (Mahidol, Thailand), "Ācārya Jñānaśrīmitra: the whole of Buddhist Philosophy in one verse"

  • 19 February 2019, Tarun Menon (TISS Mumbai): "Demystifying Emergence"

  • 14 February 2019, Clancy Martin (Ashoka): "Philosophy of Love"

  • 12 February 2019, Bijoy Baruah (IIT Ropar): "From Interface to Cyberspace: The Metaphysics of Augmented Reality"

  • 6 February 2019, HS Prasad (Delhi University): "Sailing Against the Current: The Buddha, Buddhism and Methodology"

  • 11 December 2018, Cameron Kirk-Giannini (Rutgers): "Slurs are Directives"

  • 17 May 2018, Danny Weltman (UC San Diego): "A Cosmopolitan Theory of Accession"

  • 25 April 2018, Alex Watson (Ashoka), "How Can the Self Perceive Itself? Four Mīmāṃsā Answers"

  • 19 April 2018, Kyle Fruh (Stanford University): "Against Climate Refugees"

  • 18 April 2018, Mathura Samaram (ASP Student, Ashoka), Thesis Progress Presentation: "Modal-Temporal Worm Theory"

  • 18 April 2018, Jishnu Ghose (ASP Student, Ashoka), Thesis Progress Presentation: "Focusing on Attention"

  • 11 April 2018, Aaron Mascarenhas (MLS Student, Ashoka), Thesis Progress Presentation: "Should We Abandon Nazi-Era Eponyms for Diseases?"

  • 4 April 2018, Megha Devraj (ASP Student, Ashoka), Thesis Progress Presentation: "Wittgenstein's Use Theory and the Chinese Room"

  • 3 April 2018, Rachana Kamtekar (Cornell University): "Aristotle contra Plato on the Voluntariness of Vice"

  • 21 March 2018, Nirmalya Guha (Manipal University): "Absence, Its Cognition and Ontology: An Indian Perspective"

  • 7 March 2018, Kranti Saran (Ashoka): "The Moral Significance of Introspection"

  • 28 February 2018, Malcom Keating (Yale-NUS College): "Metaphor or Delusion? Kumārila Bhaṭṭa on Figurative Language"

  • 21 February 2018, Roy Perrett (Ashoka): "Can I Doubt that I Exist?"

  • 14 February 2018, Aditi Chaturvedi (Ashoka): "Harmony and Isonomy: Two Models of Order in Pre-Platonic Philosophy"

  • 7 February 2018, Amy Gordon (Ashoka): "The Importance of Being Angry: Towards a 'Political Emotion'"

  • 31 January 2018, Clancy Martin (University of Missouri, Kansas City, Ashoka University): "Indifference and Urgency"

  • 19 April 2017, Mark Fedyk (Mount Allison University, Ashoka University): "How to Make Moral Psychology (Slightly) More Realistic”

  • 4 April 2017, Kit Patrick (University of Bristol): “Unification as an Epistemic Virtue”

  • 22 March 2017, Anil Gupta (University of Pittsburg): “Russell on Our Knowledge of the External World”

  • 20 March 2017, Christopher Hill (Brown University): “Perceptual Relativity”

  • 15 February 2017, Sir Richard Sorabji (University of Oxford): “The Discovery of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Speech for All” and “Freedom of Speech and Opening Ears: Sometimes Divergent Forms of Speech?

  • 16 June 2016, Clancy Martin (University of Missouri, Kansas City): "How You Become What You Are: Nietzsche on Selfhood"

  • 16 May 2016, Aditi Chaturvedi (University of Pennsylvania): “Harmonia in Plato’s Psychology”

  • 26 April 2016, Roy Perrett (Ashoka University): “Memory, Doubt and the Self”

  • 22 March 2016, Tyke Nunez (University of Pittsburg): “Kant on the Constitution of Causal Experience”

  • 21 March 2016, Kathryn Lindeman (Saint Louis University): “Legal Metanormativity; Lessons for and from Constitutivist Accounts in the Philosophy of Law”

  • 3 February 2016, Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi University): “Knowledge Doesn’t Entail Belief”

  • 19 January 2016, Martin Lin: “The Mind-Body Problem and Early Modern Philosophy”

  • 18 November 2015, Arindam Chakrabarti: “Could Consciousness Just Be a Convenient Fiction?”

  • 14 October 2015, Arudra Burra (IIT Delhi): “Civil Liberties and Political Ideology”

  • 20 April 2015, Scott Dixon (UC Davis): “What is Grounding and Why Do We Need It?”

  • 25 March 2015, Martin Glazier (NYU): "Explanation, Actualist Possibility, and Tomorrow’s Sea Battle"