Out of 25 subjects offered by UPSC, Philosophy is an optional subject which has a comparatively shorter syllabus. 2-3 months is enough to cover it up. Candidates from literally any background can choose this subject as options. The average success rate of this subject is 6-7 % and the average number of candidates appear with this subject is approx 1000.
In the 69th annual report of UPSC, 755 candidates have appeared with Philosophy optional. 53 candidates got recommended which gives a success rate of 7 %.
|Year||Number of appeared||Number of Recommended||Success Rate(%)|
The average number of applicants is approx 1000 and the average success rate is 7 - 8 % which is better than the other non- technical subjects.
Each year, Philosophy has been chosen as an optional subject by Approx 1000 - 2000 candidates. There are several benefits of choosing this subject as optional in IAS Mains:
Moreover, It has immense applicability in essay paper and every year topics related to philosopher thinkers come in the mains exam which makes it really desirable to candidates choose as an optional subject in IAS Mains.
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There are numerous advantages to choosing Philosophy as an optional subject. Candidates while choosing this subject as optional in IAS Mains, should consider benefits as well as the below-mentioned points:
The syllabus of Philosophy Optional is divided into 2 papers: Paper I and Paper II
In one sentence, Paper-I includes Problems of Philosophy, Logic and Ethics.
|Important Topics||Details Analysis|
|Plato and Aristotle||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 Coordination. Matter and Form, their relation and results, Concept of God and evaluation of Aristotle's Philosophy.|
|Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz)||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, the 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.|
|Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume)||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.|
|Kant||Kant as a Representative of a Philosophical Era. Kant's Critical, Transcendental, Idealism. Coordination of Rationalism and Empiricism, Kantian Epistemology and Possibility of Synthetic A Priori Judgements and it's Review, Concept of Space and Time, Kant's Theory Categories, Paralogisms Contradictions and Antinomies as Transcendental Illusion.|
|Hegel||Definition of Absolutism? Hegel's Absolute Idealism, Identity of Real and Rational, Dialectic Method and it's Review.|
|Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein||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||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.|
|Phenomenology (Husserl)||Husserl a Phenomenologist. Phenomenological Method Epoche and Reduction.
Consciousness and Subjectivity, Intentionality, Avoidance of Psychologism.
|Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger)||Main Features of Existentialism. Kierkegard'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||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.|
|Carvaka||Origin and Sources. Perception as one and only pramana , Refutation of Inference. Materialistic Metaphysics and Hedonistic Ethics of Carvaka.|
|Jainism||Lord Mahavira and Origin of Jainism, Theory of Reality, Anekantavada, Nayavada, Syadavada and Theory of Bondage and Liberation.|
|Schools of Buddhism||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||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.|
|Samkhya||Origin and Sources, Dwaitavada of Sa-mkhya, Nature of Prakriti, Argument for Existence of Prakriti and Evolutionism, Nature of Prurusa and Argument for Its Existence and Plurality, Theory of Bondage and Liberation.|
|Yoga||Cittabhumi and Cittavrtti of Yoga.Klesa Samadhi Ashtanga Yoga and Kaivalya.|
|Mimamsa||Scholars and Sources of Knowledge, Abhihitanavayavada, Anvitabhi Dhanvada Tirupati Pratyaksavada and Jnatatavada.|
|Schools of Vedanta||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.|
|Aurobindo||Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga.|
Paper-II of Philosophy optional is divided into 2 major sections: Sociopolitical Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion.
|Important Topics||Details Analysis|
|Social and Political Ideals||European Renaissance and Political Ideals. Necessity of Equality, it's Philosophical Meaning and various dimensions. Negative and Positive Meanings of Freedom and its various dimensions, Justice and it's Changing Approach, Thoughts of Plato, Aristotle, John Ralws, Prof. Amartya sen and others. Different features of Justice as a Modern Socio-political Ideals.|
|Sovereignty: Austin, Bodin, Laski, Kautilya||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||Individualistic, Idealistic, Anarchist, Totalitarian and Socialistic Approaches regarding relation between Individual and State. rights and its theories and relation with Duties. Accountability and Concerning Problems.|
|Forms of Government: Monarchy; Theocracy and Democracy||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||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.|
|Humanism; Secularism; Multiculturalism.||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.||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.||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||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.|
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|Important Topics||Details Analysis|
|Notions of God: Attributes; Relation to Man and the World. (Indian and Western).||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).||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.|
|The Problem of Evil.||What is Evil? Types of Evil Clarification of Problem of Evil, Discussion and Evaluation of Different Solutions of Problem of Evil.|
|Soul: Immortality; Rebirth and Liberation.||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.||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).||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.||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.||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.||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.||What is Religious Language? Analogical and Symbolic Theories and Cognitive and Non-cognitive views of various thinkers in respect of Religious Language.|
IAS Mains candidates can check the table below where booklist is provided categorized as per the sections of UPSC Philosophy optional syllabus:
In the following chart, some links are provided though which previous years’ question papers of 2019 to 2014 can easily be downloaded and take a print out if needed.
|Years||Name of Paper||Link to Download|
|2019||Philosophy Paper - I||Download|
|2018||Philosophy Paper - I||Download|
|2017||Philosophy Paper - I||Download|
|2016||Philosophy Paper - I||Download|
|2015||Philosophy Paper - I||Download|
|2014||Philosophy Paper - I||Download|
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Before starting your preparation, topic-wise analysis is important. It will give you a rough idea about the important topics and the weightage of each topic in IAS philosophy optional. This will help you to plan the time table and making predictions of probable questions.
For better understanding, philosophy optional paper I is divided into two parts: Indian Philosophy and contemporary western philosophy.
In the following table, there is detailed marks division of important topics which have been faced from the Indian Philosophy section.
|Topic||Analysis of Marks|
|Schools of Vedanta||50||30||30||15||15|
In the following table, there is detailed marks division of important topics which has been faced from Contemporary Western Philosophy.
|Topic||Analysis of Marks|
|Quine and Strawson||0||10||15||20||0|
|Plato and Aristotle||10||15||10||20||10|
Download IAS 2020 Sample Papers
For better understanding, philosophy optional paper II is divided into two parts: Socio-Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion.
In the following table, there is detailed marks division of important topics which has been faced from the Socio-Political Philosophy.
|Topic||Analysis of Marks|
|Development and Social Progress||0||15||10||0||15|
|Crime and Punishment||10||50||0||30||0|
|Forms of Government||50||15||35||10||20|
|Individual and State||10||20||10||0||10|
|Social and Political Ideals||50||15||25||10||15|
In the following table, there is detailed marks division of important topics which has been faced from the Philosophy of Religion:
|Topic||Analysis of Marks|
|Nature of Religious Language||50||20||15||15||20|
|Religion and Morality||50||15||15||0||0|
|Religion without God||0||0||0||15||0|
|Reason, Revelation and Faith||10||35||35||20||25|
|Problem of Evil||10||20||25||0||35|
|Proofs for the Existence of God||50||15||45||15||15|
|Notions of God||10||20||10||20||0|
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The presentation of answering matters in IAS Mains. Here are some minor yet effective points to make your answers more note-worthy:
Though the optional has defined and short syllabus, but it is stuffed with technical terms, and it requires an in-depth understanding, as well as the ability to connect one concept with another.
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Though it has numerous sides which makes it a popular non-technical subject among IAS Mains Candidates, it also has some challenges which might give you obstacles while preparing:
Ques. Is coaching necessary for philosophy optional?
Ans. Coaching is highly recommended for philosophy optional. It is difficult to self-study due to the vastness of the syllabus. A lot of self-effort and dedication is required to clear the examination. Begin early and aim to complete the entire syllabus comprehensively.
Ques. What is the highest score of Philosophy optional in IAS Mains?
Ans. Juhi Jalota secured 306 Marks in Philosophy optional in CSE-2017 and secured AIR 122.
Ques. Who got the highest marks in UPSC ever?
Ans. Anudeep Durishetty, topper for UPSC 2017, scored 1126 (55.60%) out of 2025 marks. He scored 950 out of 1750 marks in Mains and 176 out of 275 in the personality test.
Ques. How many IAS are selected every year?
Ans. Around 180 candidates have been selected in the Indian Administrative Services each year.
Ques. Are 6 months enough for Philosophy optional?
Ans. Though it depends on the candidates’ ability and interest, 6 months is enough to study and cover the philosophy. In the first 3 months, the syllabus is expected to be completed. So use the rest of the period for practice answer writing and revising.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.