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Syllabus of Philosophy Paper - I

History and Problems of Philosophy:

  1. Plato and Aristotle: Ideas; Substance; Form and Matter; Causation; Actuality and Potentiality.
  2. Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz); Cartesian Method and Certain Knowledge; Substance; God; Mind-Body Dualism; Determinism and Freedom.
  3. Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume): Theory of Knowledge; Substance and Qualities; Self and God; Scepticism.
  4. Kant: Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments; Space and Time; Categories; Ideas of Reason; Antinomies; Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God.
  5. Hegel: Dialectical Method; Absolute Idealism.
  6. Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein: Defence of Commonsense; Refutation of Idealism; Logical Atomism; Logical Constructions; Incomplete Symbols; Picture Theory of Meaning; Sying and Showing.
  7. Logical Positivism: Verification Theory of Meaning; Rejection of Metaphysics; Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions.
  8. Later Wittgenstein: Meaning and Use; Language-games; Critique of Private Language.
  9. Phenomenology (Husserl): Method; Theory of Essences; Avoidance of Psychologism.
  10. Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sarte, Heidegger): Existence and Essence; Choice, Responsibility and Authentic Existence; Being-in-the-world and Temporality.
  11. Quine and Strawson: Critique of Empiricism; Theory of Basic Particulars and Persons.
  12. Carvaka: Theory of Knowlegde; Rejection of Transcendent Entities.
  13. Jainism: Theory of Reality; Saptabhanginaya; Bondage and Liberation.
  14. Schools of Buddhism: Prat Ityasamutpada; Ksanikavada, Nairatmyavada.
  15. Nyaya—Vaiesesika : 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.
  16. Samkhya; Prakrit; Purusa; Causation; Liberation.
  17. Yoga; Citta; Cittavrtti; Klesas; Samadhi; Kaivalya.
  18. Mimamsa: Theory of Knowledge.
  19. Schools of Vedanta: Brahman; Isvara; Atman; Jiva; Jagat; Maya; Avida; Adhyasa; Moksa; Aprthaksiddhi; Pancavidhabheda.
  20. Aurobindo: Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga.

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Syllabus of Philosophy Paper - II

Socio-Political Philosophy: 

  1. Social and Political ideals: Equality, Justice, Liberty. 
  2. Sovereignty: Austin, Bodin, Laski, Kautilya. 
  3. Individual and State: Rights; Duties and Accountability. 
  4. Forms of Government: Monarchy; Theocracy and Democracy.
  5. Political Ideologies: Anarchism, Marxism and Socialism.
  6. Humanism; Secularism; Multi-culturalism. 
  7. Crime and Punishment: Corruption, Mass Violence, Genocide, Capital Punishment.
  8. Development and Social Progress. 
  9. Gender Discrimination: Female Foeticide, Land and Property Rights; Empowerment.
  10. Caste Discrimination: Gandhi and Ambedkar.

Philosophy of Religion:

  1. Notions of God: Attributes; Relation to Man and the World. (Indian and Western). 
  2. Proofs for the Existence of God and their Critique (Indian and Western).
  3. Problem of Evil. 
  4. Soul: Immortality; Rebirth and Liberation. 
  5. Reason, Revelation, and Faith.
  6. Religious Experience: Nature and Object (Indian and Western). 
  7. Religion without God.
  8. Religion and Morality.
  9. Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Absolute Truth.
  10. Nature of Religious Language: Analogical and Symbolic; Cognitivist and Non-cognitive.

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Previous Year UPSC Questions

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2022 2021 2020 2019 2018



  1. Answer the following:
    a). How does Plato use the theory of forms to establish the realtion between epistemology and metaphysics? Discuss.
    b). What is Bertrand Russell's method of logical anaysis? How does it ultimately end in establishing atomic theory of meaning? Discuss.
    c). Establish the tenabilty of later Wittgenstein's motion of language as form of life.
    d). What is psychologism? Critically discuss the way Edmund Husserl avoids the problem of psychologism in the discourse of transcendental phenomenology.
    e). What is apperception, according to Immanuel Kant? Discuss with reference to his transcendental exposition of space and time.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Provide a critical account of Heideggaer's Being-in-the-world and discuss the problem of 'authenticity' in the context of Dasein.
    b). Is Aristotle's view of nature of identity in consonance with his metaphysical view of causes as processes? Discuss giving suitable examples.
    c). Discuss the concept of substance according to Spinoza. Does his discussion on substance lead to pantheism? Substantiate your view.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). How does Kant construct and antinomies to illustrate the illusory tendencies of pure reason? Explain and examine the antinomies presented by Kant.
    b). What is the dialectical method in the philosophy of George Wilhelm Hegal? How does this method help in realizing the Absolute? Discuss.
    c). Is there any difference between pictorial form and logical form in Ludwig Wittgenstein's picture theory of langauge? How does the logical form define the realtion between language and reality? Explain.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). How does Soren Kierkegaard define the notion of 'subjectivity' ? Explain it with reference to three stages of existence as propounded by him.
    b). How does Rene Descartes explain the notion of certainty with reference to knowledge of the self? Critically discuss the way it differs from the knowledge of the world.
    c). Why and how does John Locke refute the innate ideas? Elucidate the nature and source of knowledge in Locke's epistemology.


  1. Answer the following:
    a). Examine and evaluate the proofs given by Samkhya philosophy to prove the existence of Purusa.
    b). What is the ontological status of Samanya, according to Vaisesika Philosophy ? Critically examine.
    c). Discuss the nature and different stages of Samadhi as per Patanjala voga and examine the role of Isvara in it.
    d). How does Jaina view of Karma bear upon their soteriology? Critically discuss.
    e). Do you agree with the view that 'Vivartavada is the logical development of Parinamavada'? Give reasons in support of your answer.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). How compatible is Buddhist theory of momentariness with their theory of Karma? In this regard how do Buddhists respond to objections raised by their opponents? Critically discuss.
    b). 'The doctrine of 'Relativism' of Jain Philosophy cannot be logically sustained without postulating 'Absolutism'.' Critically examine this view and give reasons in the favour of your answer.
    c). How do refute the Nyaya view that Implication (arthapatti) is reducible to Inference (anumana) and establish Implication as an independent means of valid a knowledge (pramana)? Critically discuss.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Inspite of accepting the intrinsic validity of knowledge, why and how Prabhakar and Kumarila differ in their interpretation of erroneous cognition? Discuss.
    b). Explain Buddhist concept of Trratna and their internal relation. Critically examine the consistency of Trratnas with the Buddhist concept of No-soul (Nairatmyavada).
    c). How do Naiyayikas respond to Carvika's objections against inference (anumana) and establish inference as an independent means of knowledge? Critically discuss.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). 'Brahma satyam jaganmithya, jivo Brahmaiva näparah'. In the light of this statement explain the ontological status of Isvara, Jiva and Säksi as elucidated in Advaita Vedanta.
    b). Explain and evaluate the role of integral yoga in the process of triple transformation for individual evolution as expounded by Sri Aurobindo.
    c). How does the concept of liberation (Moksa) of Madhvacārya differ from that of Ramanujacarya ? Explain.



  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each:
    a). Discuss the role of enlightenment movement in the rise of humanism.
    b). In the age of individualism and universal franchise, what role does caste play in body-politic? Discuss.
    c). In corruption a systemic issues or an ethical issue? Give your critical comments.
    d). “Complete liberty may lead to inequality while order and restrictions imply a necessary loss of freedom.” Critically discuss.
    e). What are the moral justifications of capital punishment? Discuss.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). What arguments does Bodin present to contend that sovereignty must be absolute, perpetual and undivided? Is Bodin’s conception of sovereignty compatible with the social and political ideals of equality, justice and liberty? Critically discuss.
    b). Critically evaluate Gandhi's views on eradication of caste discrimination.
    c). Explain the difference between the notion of equity and equality with reference to Marxian philosophy.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Do you agree that economic development does not on its own lead to human development and social progress? Give reasons and justifications for your answer.
    b). Discuss gender as a cultural category as opposed to sex as a biological category.
    c). Critically analyze the descriptive and normative aspects of multiculturalism.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss propaganda as a challenge to democratic form of government.
    b). Does idea of unconditional rights necessarily lead to anarchy? Critically examine.
    c). Are monarchy and theocracy necessarily related? Discuss with reference to the theory of Divine Right.


  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words cach:
    a). Write an essay on Spinoza's notion of God and His attributes.
    b). “One can have morality without religion but not religion without morality.” Discuss?
    c). “Immortality of Soul is a necessary postulate for rebirth.” Critically examine with reference to Buddhism.
    d). Is the notion of faith indispensable for the idea of revelation? Critically comment.
    e). Explain the difference between the cognitivist and non-cognitivist approaches to the religious language with reference to the statement– "God exists".
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Present a critical exposition of different arguments offered by St. Thomas Aquinas to prove the existence of God also known as ‘Five Ways’. Which one of them do you find philosophically most interesting? Give reasons in support of your answer.
    b). Explain the relation between the God and the Self according to Rāmānujāchārya.
    c). If God is the Absolute Creator, then the responsibility of the evil cannot belong to the human agent. Critically examine.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). “An unquestionable acceptance of only one Absolute Truth will ineviatably result in religious exclusivism.” Discuss.
    b). Is it possible to have an idea of Liberation without the conception of a real agent? In this context, discuss the difference between Advaita and Vishistadvaita systems of thought.
    c). Discuss the nature and variety of religious experiences as presented by William James.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the main points of distinction between a priori and a posteriori arguments for the existence of God. Which one according to you should be preferred over the other? Give reasons and justifications for your answer.
    b). Discuss the nature of Soul and Bondage according to Jainism.
    c). Critically examine the idea of Brahman in Advaita philosophy of Shankara. Does Shankara's conception of Brahman leave room for theism? Discuss.

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