What was Carvaka's philosophy

Introduction to Ancient Indian Thought: The Upanishads and the Six Philosophical Systems

205 | Dr. phil. habil. Renate Syed
Dates: Thursday, 2:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Master Ethics: III (EID)
BA: WP Interculturality
MAcons: III (RV, EG)

- pro philosophia extra: free for members of pro philosophia e.V. -


The theme of the lecture is (old) Indian thought, which begins in the Vedas and Upanishads and shows up in the six recognized philosophical systems. In the Upanishads the parameters of Indian culture are set: Belief in rebirth, that karma, retaliation and redemption. The lectures deal with: Vedanta (idealistic / monistic school), Samkhya (the dualistic school and its psychology / anthropology), Yoga (as a method of physical and mental discipline and development), and Vaisheshika (the theory of categories), Nyaya (dialectics and logic) and the Mimamsa (ritualism and philosophy of language). Finally, the teaching of the Carvakas, the materialists and atheists, is presented.


The aim of the lecture is to give the students a profound introduction to Indian thinking, which has numerous similarities with European thinking ("German idealism", logic, dialectics, etc.), but also many differences and unique selling points. What makes Indian philosophy, which is attracting more and more attention in the West, so unique and significant?


The lectures are accompanied by presentations with pictures, tables / overviews and parts of text; which optically support what is shown. For each lecture, a paper is handed out that summarizes the content and forms the basis of the examination.


Requirements are basic knowledge of western philosophy, but above all curiosity and openness.


See the conditions of the college; an oral exam can be taken.

target group

As in previous lectures on Hinduism and Indian cultural history, the target group includes students who, in addition to their studies of Western philosophies, want to get to know another culture in a complementary / contrasting way.


Accompanying papers are distributed for each lecture; likewise reading lists.

As introductory literature:

Erich Frauwallner, History of Indian Philosophy, 2 vols. 1953/2003. Despite its weaknesses, this is the classic.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Volume 2: The Systems of Brahmanism, 1957; also a classic, this time written from an Indian perspective.

Sequeira, A. Ronald, The Philosophies of India, Aachen 1996.