The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

Department of Philosophy, University at Albany, SUNY

Students are required to take a Ph.D. Comprehensive examination in the history of philosophy. For further full citations and advice on preparing for the examinations, please consult the faculty members who teach in the relevant areas.

These reading lists will be the basis for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations. If the list is modified for future examinations, the chair of the Examinations Committee will distribute copies of the revised version to all active graduate students and to faculty. Students are responsible, however, for verifying with the chair of the Examinations Committee that they have the version of the list on which the next Comprehensive Examination will be based. They should verify this well before they notify the chair of the Examinations Committee of their final intention to take the examination. (See Graduate Handbook II.C.4.)

Reading list

  • Plato: Meno, Phaedo, Republic
  • Aristotle: Categories, chs. 1-5; Physics, Bks. 1-2; De Anima, II.1-2; Metaphysics, Bks 7-8 (i.e., Bks Eta & Zeta, H & Z); Ethics, I-IV, VI-VII
  • Hobbes: Leviathan, XIII-XXI
  • Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy
  • Locke: Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Epistle to Reader; Bk. I, 1,2,3 (secs. 1-14), 4 (sec. 1); Bk. II, 1 (secs. 1-10, 10-25), 2-9, 11-13, 17 (secs. 1-5), 19, 21 (secs. 1-5, 75), 22-26, 27 (secs. 1-4, 5-29), 29 (secs. 1-5); 30-32; Bk. III, 1-6; Bk. IV, 1, 2, 3 (secs. 1-27), 4-6, 8-11, 12 (secs. 9-15), 14-16, 17 (secs. 23-24), 18, 19; 2nd Treatise of Government
  • Berkeley: Principles of Human Knowledge, Pt. I
  • Hume: A Treatise of Human Nature, I.iv. 6, II.iii.3, III.i (entire), III.ii.1-2; Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • Spinoza: Ethics, Bk. I-II
  • Leibniz: Discourse on Metaphysics, Monadology
  • Kant: Critique of Pure Reason, Avii-xxii, Bvii-xliv, A1-16/B1-30, A19-41/B33-58, A50-83/B74-113, A84-94/B116-29, A95-130, B129-69, A130-62/B169-201, A176-211/B218-56, A218-35/B265-88, A235-60/B294-315, A293-348/B349-406, B406-32, A405-515/B432-544, A517-37/B545-65, A567-602/B595-630, A642-68/B670-96; Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • Hegel: Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Mill: Utilitarianism, On Liberty
  • Peirce: "Fixation of Belief", "How to Make our Ideas Clear"
  • Husserl: The Idea of Phenomenology, Lectures I, II, and IV
  • Schlick: "The Turning Point in Philosophy"
  • Carnap: "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology"
  • Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations, sections 185-242