Indian Philosophy and Western Understanding: The Oxford Connection


From karma and rebirth to nirvana and samsara, we explore key concepts, themes and arguments in classical Indian philosophy. Our initial focus will be the Vedas and Upanishads.  Then, after considering attempts to classify various philosophical traditions, we concentrate on key epistemological, metaphysical and axiological teachings of the six 'orthodox' Hindu schools:

(1) Vedanta and Purva Mimamsa

(2) Nyaya and Vaisheshika

(3) Samkhya and Yoga

We continue by exploring 'heterodox' schools, chiefly:

(1) Buddhism - in particular the teachings of Buddha and the trajectory of Buddhist systems

(2) Jainism

(3) Charvaka/Materialism

Finally, we attempt to understand the relationship of Indian thought to Western philosophy. This will lead us to discuss the significance of the contributions of Oxford-based scholars:

(1) Monier Monier-Williams (1819-1899), Boden Professor of Sanskrit, and Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900), Professor of Comparative Philology

(2) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) and Bimal Krishna Matilal (1935-91), both holders of the Spalding Chair of Eastern Religion and Ethics

Programme details

Registration (in-person attendees only)

The Vedas, Upanishads and Hindu schools


The Buddha's teachings

Lunch break

Further 'heterodox' schools: Jainism and Materialism


Indian philospohy and the West: the Oxford connection

Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £85.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £75.00
Baguette £6.10
Hot lunch (three courses) £16.50


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Martin Ovens


Born and educated in Wales, Martin Ovens (Wolfson College, Oxford) has taught courses in philosophy and religious studies since 1997, first for Cardiff University and then for OUDCE from 2005. He is the Editor of Culture and Dialogue, an international, peer reviewed journal of cross-cultural philosophy (published by Brill). His research is based on interest in the relationship between skepsis and creativity. Among his publications are papers on comparative philosophy, scepticism and aesthetics. Current projects include work on Owen Barfield and political philosophy.

Dr Doug Bamford


Doug Bamford teaches courses in philosophy and political economy at OUDCE. His main interest is in political philosophy and its application to public policy. He received his PhD in Political Philosophy at the University of Warwick in 2013. He is author of Rethinking Taxation (Searching Finance, 2014) and several papers (including articles in the Journal of Applied Philosophy and Moral Philosophy and Politics). He blogs at Doug Bamford's Tax Appeal.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.