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UPSC Philosophy (for UPSC2020)

Updated on 15 February 2020
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UPSC & State PSC 2021
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Updated on 15 February 2020

The optional papers in the UPSC Mains exam are said to be of the honors level. From this, you can understand it as the papers will be from that of bachelor’s and masters.

Philosophy is one of those optional subjects according to the syllabus listed.

If you go through the philosophy’s curriculum, you will find that it is all about the history and evolution of Philosophy and the Indian culture.

The UPSC 2020 exam is scheduled from 5 January 2020 for Prelims and 18 September 2020 onwards for Mains.

The Philosophy paper is divided into two parts, namely paper one and paper 2 comprising 250 marks each.

This makes complete Philosophy paper of 500 marks.

This is also one of the most loved subjects among the UPSC aspirants.

There have been toppers who chose Philosophy as their optional subject.

So let us know why one should choose this subject: Why Choose This Subject

1. The best part of this subject is that it has the shortest syllabus when compared with the rest of the optional subjects.

2. Unlike others, its syllabus does not comprise the current affairs segment, and this is what makes the subject static.

3. Being an elementary subject, it eliminates the need to have prior knowledge regarding the issue. The Syllabus Of Philosophy Paper 1 of Philosophy can be divided into parts, namely Indian and Western Philosophy.


So let us see it in detail:

1. Plato and Aristotle: Form and Matter, Ideas; Causation, Substance, potentiality, and actuality.

2. Kant: Categories, Space and Time, Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments; Space and Time; Categories; Ideas of Reason; Antinomies; Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God

3. Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz): Certain Knowledge and Cartesian Method, God, Determinism, freedom, Substance, and Mind-Body Dualism

4. Hegel: In this, you will learn about the dialectical method and the absolute idealism.

5. Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume): knowledge theory, qualities, substances. Skepticism, God, and self.

6. Logical Positivism: In this topic, you will learn about metaphysics rejection and meaning theory and verification, necessary propositions through Linguistic Theory.

7. Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein: Idealism refutation, Defence of Common Sense; Logical Constructions; Picture Theory of Meaning; Logical Atomism; Incomplete Symbols; Saying and Showing.

8. Phenomenology (Husserl): Essence theories and methods.

9. Later Wittgenstein: Language-games; Use & Meaning; and the Private Language Critiques.

10. Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger): This part contains, Authentic and responsible existence, choice, essence, existence, Responsibility, and Authentic Existence; Being-in-the-world and Temporality.

11. Quine and Strawson: Basic Particulars, person theory, and Empiricism critique. 12. Ca-rva-ka : Knowledge theory and Transcendent Entities’ rejection.

13. Nya-ya-Vais'esika: In this, you need to go through the theories about categories, appearance, and brahmana. After this, you will have Liberation, God, Self, Evidence of God’s existence, causation, and creation theories.

14. Sa-mkhya: Prakrti; Purusa; Causation; Liberation

15. Yoga: Citta; Cittavrtti; Klesas; Samadhi; Kaivalya.

16. Mima-MSA: Theory of Knowledge

17. Schools of Vedanta: Brahman; I-s'vara; A-tman; Jiva; Jagat; Ma-ya-; Avidya-; Adhya-sa; Moksa; Aprthaksiddhi; Pancavidhabheda

18. Aurobindo: Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga. Preparation Strategy For This Subject You need to have an ample amount of practice sets.

This will not only help you in solving the questions but will also help you in managing your time.

You can go through the book ‘A Critical Survey Of Indian Philosophy’ written by CD Sharma.

You can also refer to ‘An Introduction To Indian Philosophy,’ ‘A History of Philosophy,’ and ‘A Critical History of Western Philosophy.’

Most important thing while giving answers is to use the Sanskrit words in their proper forms. You need to analyze and understand the concepts in a better way.



All the Best to all the aspirants of UPSC 2020!

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