Philosophy Optional Course For UPSC

Why choose philosophy as an optional subject for the preparation for the UPSC examination?

preparation for UPSC civil service examination is very tough for the candidates and is a real-time struggle. The key to success is efficient time management for the preparation of the UPSC civil service examination. the general studies paper are concerned and the candidate has no choice but they have to prepare the syllabus comprehensively and extensively on a regular basis so that they can get good scores because of which the candidate should opt for a subject of their own choice in the optional subject can significantly increase the chances of becoming an IAS. therefore a candidate must choose the optional subject in which they have a good interest. Philosophy needs a special mention and it is a subject that can put you on the path towards success in more than one way.

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What are the advantages of philosophy as an optional subject?

  • The optional subject philosophy can be prepared comprehensively and sufficiently in a short period of time the candidate does not require any prior background in this subject as compared to other optional subjects. 
  • The syllabus of philosophy is almost one-third. 
  • One of the principal branches of philosophy is ethics and because of which after studying philosophy a candidate can better deal with the challenges of the ethics paper.
  • This paper can bring out a remarkable improvement in the thinking and writing of the students and this can also extend the substantial help to the essay paper.
  • The dividends of studying philosophy as an optional subject are not only confined to its designated 500 marks but also provide benefits to the students in general studies papers that include integrity and aptitude essay ethics as well as in the interview.
  • This paper can provide the right orientation to the candidate and can also enable the aspirant to answer the questions of the interview in a more intelligent way.

Philosophy syllabus for UPSC mains examination

Paper I: History and problems of philosophy


Plato and Aristotle Ideas, Substance, Form and Matter, Causation, Actuality, and Potentiality
Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz) Cartesian Method and Certain Knowledge, Substance, God, Mind-Body Dualism, Determinism and Freedom
Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) Theory of Knowledge, Substance, and Qualities, Self and God, Skepticism.
Kant Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments, Space and Time, Categories, Ideas of Reason, Antinomies, Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God
Hegel Dialectical Method, Absolute Idealism
Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein Defense of Common Sense, Refutation of Idealism, Logical Atomism, Logical Constructions, Incomplete Symbols, Picture Theory of Meaning, Saying and Showing
Logical Positivism Verification Theory of Meaning, Rejection of Metaphysics, Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions.
Later Wittgenstein Meaning and Use, Language- games, Critique of Private Language.
Phenomenology (Husserl) Method, Theory of Essences, Avoidance of Psychologism
Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger) Existence and Essence, Choice, Responsibility and Authentic Existence, Being-in-the-world and Temporality
Quine and Strawson Critique of Empiricism, Theory of Basic Particulars and Persons
Carvaka Theory of Knowledge, Rejection of Transcendent Entities
Jainism Theory of Reality, Saptabhaòginaya, Bondage, and Liberation
Schools of Buddhism Pratîtyasamutpada, Ksanikavada, Nairatmyavada
Nyaya- Vaiúesika Theory of Categories, Theory of Appearance, Theory of Pramana, Self, Liberation, God, Proofs for the Existence of God, Theory of Causation, Atomistic Theory of Creation
Samkhya Prakriti, Purusa, Causation, Liberation
Yoga Citta, Cittavrtti, Klesas, Samadhi, Kaivalya.
Mimamsa Theory of Knowledge
Schools of Vedanta Brahman, Îúvara, Atman, Jiva, Jagat, Maya, Avidya, Adhyasa, Moksa, Amrtasiddhi, Pancavidhabheda
Aurobindo Evolution, Involution, Integral Yoga.




Socio-Political Philosophy Social and Political Ideals: Equality, Justice, Liberty.

Sovereignty: Austin, Bodin, Laski, Kautilya.

Individual and State: Rights, Duties, and Accountability

Forms of Government: Monarchy, Theocracy, and Democracy.

Political Ideologies: Anarchism, Marxism and Socialism

Humanism, Secularism, Multiculturalism.

Crime and Punishment: Corruption, Mass Violence, Genocide, Capital Punishment.

Development and Social Progress.

Gender Discrimination: Female Foeticide, Land, and Property Rights, Empowerment.

Caste Discrimination: Gandhi and Ambedkar

Philosophy of Religion Notions of God: Attributes, Relation to Man and the World. (Indian and Western).

Proofs for the Existence of God and their Critique (Indian and Western).

The Problem of Evil.

Soul: Immortality, Rebirth, and Liberation.

Reason, Revelation, and Faith.

Religious Experience: Nature and Object (Indian and Western). 

Religion without God.

Religion and Morality.

Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Absolute Truth.

Nature of Religious Language: Analogical and Symbolic, Cognitivist and Noncognitive.


How to prepare for a philosophy paper?

The philosophy paper is divided into 4 parts: western philosophy, social-political philosophy, religious philosophy, and Indian philosophy. Here is a list of preparation strategies for every part of the philosophy paper.

  • For western philosophy and Indian philosophy, the candidate can cover Indian philosophy by reading the introduction to Indian philosophy by Satish Chandra Chatterjee and the critical history of western philosophy modern by Yakub Masih.
  • Social political philosophy and religious philosophy are the core parts of the paper second of the optional subject of philosophy and for preparing these the candidate should refer to The Hindu editorial as well as the articles from the monthly magazines like Kurukshetra and Yojana.
  • the candidate should practice answer writing on a regular basis.
  • The aspirants who have chosen philosophy as an optional subject for the preparation of the UPSC civil service examination should refer to the answer scripts of the toppers.
  • Candidates should practice different test series so that they can get a good answer copy evaluation for the preparation of the UPSC civil service examination and in the end, they can know about their weak points.

Books that a candidate should opt for the preparation of UPSC civil service examination

  • An Introduction to Indian Philosophy by Satishchandra Chatterjee
  • An Introduction to Political Theory by O.P. Gauba
  • A Critical History of Western Philosophy: Greek, Medieval and Modern by Yakub Masih
  • A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy by Chandradhar Sharma
  • Contemporary Indian Philosophy by Basant Kumar Lal.
  • Philosophy of Religion by John H Hick.

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