UPSC: Philosophy Optional syllabus for UPSC Mains exam focuses on the candidates’ ability to understand the subject and apply the knowledge to society in India. The topics included in this subject area related to the history and evolution of philosophy, religion, and social structures. Philosophy Optional Subject has two subjective papers (paper I and Paper II). Each paper is of 250 marks with a total of 500 marks. Many topics that you read in philosophy are useful for other subjects like the Ethics and the Essay paper. You can also use some of the concepts in philosophy in the other general studies papers.
Also Check: UPSC IAS Optional Papers Syllabus:
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UPSC Optional Paper Syllabus for Philosophy- Paper I (History and Problems of Philosophy)
- Plato and Aristotle:
Ideas; Substance; Form and Matter; Causation; Actuality and Potentiality.
Analysis: Plato as a Perfect Greek, What are the Ideas? Realism of Ideas, Characteristics of Ideas, Pyramidical System of Ideas, Example of cave, Plato’s Epistemology as Criticism of Sophists, Example of Vertical Line, Theory of Soul and God, Plato’s Criticism by Aristotle and it’s Evaluation. Aristotle as an Encyclopaedic Genius. Theory of Four Causes and their Co-ordination. Matter and Form, their relation and results, Concept of God and evaluation of Aristotle's Philosophy.
- Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz):
Cartesian Method and Certain Knowledge; Substance; God; Mind-Body Dualism; Determinism and Freedom.
Analysis: Origin and features of Rationalism, Descartes as Father of Modern Western Philosophy, Philosophical Method, Sceptic Process of Knowing, “I Think Therefore I Am”, Theory of Three Substances, Interactionism and Mind-body Relation. Spinoza and Descartes, Spinoza's Theory of Substance and its Geometrical Explanation, Pantheism, relation between God and World. Determinism and Freewill, comparison between Pantheism and Theism, Spinoza's theory of Attributes and Modes. Journey of Rationalism from Descartes to Leibnitz. Theory of Substance, It's Features, System, concerning problems and solution. Leibnitz Concept of God and Pre-established Harmony, Evaluation of Leibnitz Philosophy. Identity of indiscernible.
- Empiricsm (Locke, Berkeley, Hume):
Theory of Knowledge; Substance and Qualities; Self and God; Scepticism.
Analysis: Rise and Features of Empiricism, Locke's refutation of Innate Ideas, Epistemology of Locke, Ideas and its Types, Type and Limits of Knowledge, Locke's Three Substances as Matter, Self and God, Locke's Theory of Qualities and Evaluation of Locke's Philosophy. Berkeley and Locke. Berkeley's Criticism of Locke's Material Objects. Idealism of Berkeley. Is Berkeley a Subjective Idealist? Berkeley's Concept of God and Evaluation of Berkeley's Philosophy. Journey of Empiricism from Locke To Hume, Hume's Epistemology. Impressions and Ideas. Hume's Theory of Causation and Scepticism. His Concept of Self and Personal Identity and Evaluation of Hume's Philosophy.
Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments; Space and Time; Categories; Ideas of Reason; Antinomies; Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God
Analysis: Kant as a Representative of a Philosophical Era. Kant's Critical, Transcendental, Idealism. Co-ordination of Rationalism and Empiricism, Kantian Epistemology and Possibility of Synthetic Apriori Judgements and it's Review, Concept of Space and Time, Kant's Theory Categories, Paralogisms Contradictions and Antinomies as Transcendental Illusion.
Dialectical Method; Absolute Idealism
Analysis: What is Absolutism? Hegel's Absolute Idealism, Identity of Real and Rational, Dialectic Method and it's Review.
- Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein:
Defense of Commonsense; Refutation of Idealism; Logical Atomism; Logical Constructions; Incomplete Symbols; Picture Theory of Meaning; Saying and Showing.
Analysis: G.E. Moore as first thinker of Contemporary Western Philosophy. Refutation of Idealism and Defence of Common Sense and Neo-realism. Russell’s distinction between Name and Description. Theory of Description, Indefinite and Definite Descriptions, Incomplete Symbol and Logical Construction, Russell's Logical Atomism, Atom and it's Types, Facts and it's Types, Proposition and it's Types. Theory of truth functions. Wittgenstein a Linguistic Philosopher. In Early Wittgenstein Picture Theory of Meaning and difference between Saying and Showing,
- Logical Positivism:
Verification Theory of Meaning; Rejection of Metaphysics; Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions.
Analysis: Logical Positivism as a Philosophical Revolution of 20th Century. Schlick's, Carnap's and Ayer's verification principles. Elimination of Metaphysics and Linguistic Theory of Necessary Proposition.
- Later Wittgenstein:
Meaning and Use; Language-games; Critique of Private Language. Analysis: In Later Wittgenstein Meaning and Use, Language Game and Critique of Private Language.
- Phenomenology (Husserl):
Method; Theory of Essences; Avoidance of Psychologism.
Analysis: Husserl a Phenomenologist. Phenomenological Method Epoche and Reduction. Consciousness and Subjectivity, Intentionality, Avoidance of Psychologism.
- Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger):
Existence and Essence; Choice, Responsibility and Authentic Existence; Being–in–the–world and Temporality.
Analysis: Main Features of Existentialism. Kierkegaard’s Truth is Subjectivity, Sartre's Existence and Essence, Freedom Choice and Accountability, Heidegger's Being in the World, Existent Human, or Dasein, Inauthentic and Authentic Existence.
- Quine and Strawson:
Critique of Empiricism; Theory of Basic Particulars and Persons.
Analysis: Quine’s Critique of Empiricism. Attack on Analytical and Synthetical Statement. Two dogmas of Empiricism. Strawson’s Theory of Basic Particulars. Ownership and No-ownership Theories of Person and Strawson Criticism. Person as Primitive Concept.
Theory of Knowledge; Rejection of Transcendent Entities
Analysis: Origin and Sources. Perception as one and only pramana, Refutation of Inference. Materialistic Metaphysics and Hedonistic Ethics of Carvaka.
Theory of Reality Saptabhanginay; Bondage and Liberation.
Analysis: Lord Mahavira and Origin of Jainism, Theory of Reality, Anekantavada, Nayavada, Syadavada and Theory of Bondage and Liberation.
- Schools of Buddhism:
Pratityasamutpada; Ksnikavada, Nairatmyavada
Analysis: Lord Buddha and Origin of Buddhism, Vaibhasika and Sautrantika Under Hinayana, sunyavada and Vijnanavada Under Mahayana. Four Nobel Truths, Astangika, Marga pratityasamutpada, Ksnikavada and Anatmavada.
- Nyaya Vaisesika:
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.
Analysis: Scholars and Sources of Knowledge, Scripts, Nyaya Vaisesika as Parallel Schools. Pradarthas and Theory of Vaisesika. Self, God, and Bondage and Liberation of Nyaya and Pramana, Aprama, Pratyaksa, Anumana, Sabda, Upamana, Arthapatti and Anuplabdhi Pramanas of Indian System. Theory of Causation in Indian Philosophy,Satkaryavada and Asatkaryavada, pramanyavada, Khyativada, or Theory of Error in Indian Philosophy.
Prakrti; Prurusa; Causation; Liberation
Analysis: Origin and Sources, Dwaitavada of Sa-mkhya , Nature of Prakrti , Argument for Existence of Prakrti and Evolutionism, Nature of Prurusa and Argument for Its Existence and Plurality, Theory of Bondage and Liberation.
Citta; Cittavrtti; Klesas;Samadhi ; Kaivalya.
Analysis: Cittabhumi and Cittavrtti of Yoga.Klesa Samadhi Astanga Yoga and Kaivalya.
Mima-msa-: Theory of Knowledge Scholars and Sources of Knowledge,Abhihitanavayavada , Anvitabhi Dhanvada Triputi Pratyaksavada and Jnatatavada .
- Schools of Vedanta:
Brahman; Isvara ;A-tman ;Jiva ; Jagat;Ma-ya- ;Adhya-sa ;Moksa ; Aprthaksiddhi; Pancavidhabheda
Analysis: From Veda to Veda-nta .Advaitavada of Shankaracharya . Theory of Bhraman ,Ishvara ,Mayavada ,jiva ,Adhya-sa and Bondage and Liberation. Visistadvaitvada of Ramanujacharya ,ishvara , Jagata, Jiva and Bondage and Liberation. Visistadvaitvada of Ramanujacharya ,ishvara, jagata ,jiva and Bondage and Liberation.Dvaitvada of Madhvacharya and Pancavidhabheda, Comparison of Madhvacharya with Shankaracharya and Ramanujacharya .
Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga.
Analysis: Evolution, Involution and Integral Yoga.
UPSC Optional Paper Syllabus for Philosophy- Paper-II
A. Socio-Political Philosophy
- Social and Political Ideals:
Equality, Justice, Liberty.
Analysis: European Renaissance and Political Ideas. The necessity of Equality, it's Philosophical Meaning and various dimensions. Negative and Positive Meanings of Freedom and its various dimensions, Justice and its Changing Approach, Thoughts of Plato, Aristotle, John Rawls, Prof. Amartya sen, and others. Different features of Justice as Modern Socio-political Ideals.
Austin, Bodin, Laski, Kautilya.
Analysis: Meaning, Features and Types of Sovereignty, Evaluation of Singular Sovereignty of Bodin and Legal Sovereignty of Austin. Pluralistic Sovereignty of Laski And Kautilya's Concept of Sovereignty.
- Individual and State:
Rights; Duties and Accountability
Analysis: Individualistic, Idealistic, Anarchist, Totalitarian and Socialistic Approaches regarding the relation between Individual and State. rights and its theories and relation with Duties. Accountability and Concerning Problems.
- Forms of Government:
Monarchy; Theocracy and Democracy.
Analysis: Theocracy it's features and Causes of Declination, Causes behind the Rise of Monarchy and it's positive and negative outcomes. Meaning, Definition, Types, Ideals and Merits-demerits of Democracy. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Democracy. Democracy as a Life-style.
- Political Ideologies:
Anarchism; Marxism and Socialism
Analysis: What Is Socialism? Developing and Revolutionary Socialism and merits-demerits of Socialism. Sources of Marxism, Process, Objectives, Theories and Evaluation of Marxism and its comparison with Socialism. Anarchism and its basic Features and Marxist, Terrorist and Non-violent or Moral Anarchism.
Analysis: Rise of These Thoughts, Metaphysical and Epistemological Approaches of Humanism and it's different Types. Origin, meaning and Basic Features of Secularism and Characteristics of a Secular State. Culture, it's Features, Cultural Diversity and it's Reasons.
- Crime and Punishment:
Corruption, Mass Violence, Genocide, Capital Punishment.
Analysis: Their Necessity in Philosophy. What is Crime? Corruption, Mass Violence, Genocide, different Theories of Punishment and Evaluation of Capital Punishment.
- Development and Social Progress.
What is Development? Necessity of Scientific Temper and it's Positive and Negative Outcomes. Features and Conditions of Progress and It's Comparison with Development. Discussion over the question that have we actually done the Progress?
- Gender Discrimination:
Female Foeticide, Land and Property Rights; Empowerment.
Analysis: Difference between Gender and Sex, Gender Inequality and it's Instances, Nature and Bases of Gender Equality. Study of Gender Inequality in respect of Indian Society and efforts for Women Empowerment.
- Caste Discrimination:
Gandhi and Ambedkar
Analysis: Gandhian Sarvodaya Darshan as a better Socialism and better option of Revolution. Life history of Ambedkar and Comparison of Gandhi and Ambedkar on Caste-discrimination.
B. Philosophy of Religion
- Notions of God:
Attributes; Relation to Man and the World. (Indian and Western).
Analysis: Personal, Impersonal and Naturalistic Notions of God. Discussion over Metaphysical and Moral Attributes of God. Various forms of Monotheism and God’s relation with Man and the World.
- Proofs for the Existence of God and their Critique (Indian and Western).
Analysis: Meaning of Existence of God, Cosmological Argument, Teleological Argument, Moral Argument of Kant, Argument of Religious Experiences, Ontological Argument and their Evaluation, Proofs Against the Existence of God and their Evaluation.
- Problem of Evil.
Analysis: What is Evil? Types of Evil Clarification of Problem of Evil, Discussion and Evaluation of Different Solutions of Problem of Evil.
Immortality; Rebirth and Liberation.
Analysis: What is Soul? Different Types of Immortality, Evaluation of Arguments Given by various thinkers for and against Immortality, Rebirth and Its Possibility. Meaning and Types of Liberation. Detail discussion over Different Paths of Liberation.
- Reason, Revelation and Faith.
Analysis: Importance of Reason, Revelation and Faith as The Means of Religious Knowledge, Distinction between ‘Faith’ and ‘Belief’. Discussion over the Mystical Features of Religious Knowledge.
- Religious Experience:
Nature and Object (Indian and Western).
Analysis: What is Religious Experience? How it is Different from other Experiences? Discussion over Factuality of Religious Experience, it’s Nature and Objects. In both Indian and Western Traditions.
- Religion without God.
Analysis: Is Religion without God Possible? Buddhism, Jainism and Humanism as such Religion, are these Religions actually Without God? Critical Examination of Arguments for and Against.
- Religion and Morality.
Analysis: What is Religion? What is Morality, Discussions over Questions like, is Religion the Basis of Morality? Are they Complementary to each other? Is Religion hurdle in Morality? Is Morality necessary for Religion?
- Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Absolute Truth.
Analysis: Different faiths claiming the Truth, Structure of Religious Plurality, different solutions of Concept and “A Religion”.
- Nature of Religious Language:
Analogical and Symbolic; Cognitive and Non- cognitive.
Analysis: What is Religious Language? Analogical and Symbolic Theories and Cognitive and Non-cognitive views of various thinkers in respect of Religious Language.