Aristotle Ara Arent Achille Mbembe Aquinas Appiah Chima Manda Booker T Washington Marx Plato Socrates
Critical-Theory Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Locke Frantz Fanon foucault Derrida Machiavelli Nietzsche Stephen Bantu Biko Web du Bois Sigmund-freud
General Information

Philosophy is not just a subject, but a way of life. One of the founding phrases of Philosophy is Socrates’ famous statement in the fifth century BC: “All that I know, is that I don’t know.” In our department we strive to cultivate a questioning, critical life practice in our students – a practice that is as necessary in everyday life as in the work environment. Our students get a thorough grounding in more than 25 centuries’ thought tradition. All content is chosen for its relevance to the ideas and ideologies that shaped, and still shape, South Africa, Africa and the global order. This enables our students to be critical, participating citizens who contribute to a culture of dialogue and democracy.


Ours is the only philosophy department at a South African university that focuses on Modernity Studies; that is, the relationship between tradition and modernity in South Africa as a country that continues to be shaped by both traditional and modern ideas and forces. Over and above a review of the various thinkers and their historical contexts, students are also trained in the following themes, amongst others: the African, Greek, Roman, and Christian foundations of the philosophical tradition; the rise of Western modernity and how it affected South Africa; German Idealism, critical theory, hermeneutics, and phenomenology; political and cultural diversity; the philosophy of technology; the relationship between philosophy and theology; African and South African intellectual history; and post-colonial philosophy.

Career choices
Students often ask what they can do with philosophy, when the question should perhaps be what philosophy could do for them. Since philosophy is a discipline that allows students to develop an integrated view of the various ideas and forces that shape the contemporary world, the study of philosophy will help students to be better in whatever career they choose. Former students of our department chose careers as varied as:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Working in the non-governmental sector (NGOs) and civil society
  • Law practitioners
  • Diplomats or civil servants
  • Clergy
  • Journalists
  • Teachers
  • Philosophy lecturers
  • >Writers
  • Researchers
  • Politicians
Contact Details


Department of Philosophy
Faculty of the Humanities

University of the Free State
PO Box 339
South Africa

Prof Johann Rossouw
T: 051 401 3347

Academic offering
Undergraduate modules
FILO1514 Introduction to Philosophy I: Tradition and Modernity
FILO1624 Introduction to Philosophy II: Tradition and Modernity

FILO2616 Tradition and Early Modern World I: Europe and Africa
FILO2626 Tradition and Early Modern World II: Europe and Africa

FILO3718 Modernity I: Europe, Africa and South Africa
FILO3728 Modernity II: Europe, Africa and South Africa
Postgraduate modules:
Honours (For more detailed information click here)
Post Graduate Students Research Protocol for prospective students (for MA and PhD)


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

Humanities photo next to contact block

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