Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (3):pp. 449-473 (2008)

Alan Schrift
Grinnell College
In this paper, I discuss the Agrégation de Philosophie—the French national examination that certifies philosophy teachers for both lycée and university instruction—in terms of the role it has played in the intellectual formation of all French philosophers and, as a corollary, its impact on developments in 20th-century French philosophy. Following a recounting of the history and structure of the examination, I discuss how the examination reveals that a thorough grounding in the history of philosophy, especially pre-1800 philosophy, is a necessary condition for employment as an instructor of philosophy. After discussing the connections between the examination and the teaching activities of the Sorbonne’s Department of Philosophy, I analyze the content of the exam, showing how it offers important insights into the French philosophical tradition and how it differs from the English language and German philosophical traditions. I conclude by examining in detail the appearances of Comte, Plotinus, and Nietzsche on the examination, showing how their appearances correlate with publication trends as well as the careers of influential philosophers.
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0033
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