Universiteit Leiden

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Institute for Philosophy

The philosophers at the Institute for Philosophy develop new perspectives and insights not only on topical themes such as immigration and climate change, but also on more fundamental philosophical questions.

The Institute obviously considers the legacy of philosophers such as Spinoza and Descartes, but its researchers also want to break through the barriers of the Western European philosophy tradition. Driven by intellectual curiosity, they also conduct research into philosophical traditions from other parts of the world.

This outward-looking approach is also apparent in the five research groups:

  • Theoretical Philosophy
  • Practical Philosophy
  • Continental Philosophy
  • Comparative Philosophy
  • History of Philosophy

These fields are also covered very extensively in the Institute’s teaching.

Theoretical Philosophy

The Theoretical Philosophy group looks at the philosophy of knowledge and all that relates to knowledge. Its researchers derive their research themes from metaphysics, philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of language, logic and philosophy of mind.

Practical Philosophy

The Practical Philosophy group is more applied. Its researchers take a critical look at political, social and cultural developments. As concerns immigration, they look in more depth at questions such as: How do you treat people fairly? What does it mean to be a citizen of a country?

Human experiences

The Continental Philosophy group studies the work of European philosophers from the 19th and 20th centuries, for instance. Its researchers focus on understanding human experience and ‘being’ in the world. What does it mean to be a human surrounded by nature and technology?

Non-Western philosophy

The Comparative Philosophy group is unique in the Netherlands. Most European and American universities approach philosophy from a typically Western perspective, based on the ancient Greek tradition. The philosophers within the Comparative Philosophy group look further than this tradition, at the traditions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

In contrast, the History of Philosophy group looks at the history of philosophy focuses on ancient and medieval European philosophy. Its researchers look at the teachings of Plato and Aristotle and their later development. The Middle East also plays a role within the group’s research, given the strong influence of Arab philosophy on medieval European thought.

Impact on society

The philosophers from Leiden are visible. They regularly advise government institutions, on, for instance, politics in the Middle East and Islam. Others train Dutch political parties, in political philosophy, for example.

Collaboration centres

The Institute for Philosophy has two collaboration centres: the Centre for Political Philosophy and the Centre for Intercultural Philosophy. These centres offer lectures and discussion forums, thus providing a platform where philosophers can meet their peers. Such encounters further inspire the ideas of the philosophers at the Institute for Philosophy, helping them keep that open mind that is befitting for a philosopher, that open mind of which the Institute is so proud.

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