#55 What is the Preferred Booklist and Syllabus for Philosophy Optional in UPSC CSE?

Philosophy is one of the electives offered by the Upsc. It is one of the most popular elective courses chosen by students. The best part about this theme is that it is purely static in nature, so you don’t have to worry about preparing for this optional current event. This is an interesting topic, if you master the curriculum and the preparations, it is easy to get good results.

 So, what is the syllabus for philosophy?


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.Empiricsm (Locke, Berkeley, Hume): 

Theory of Knowledge; Substance and Qualities; Self and God; Scepticism.


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


Dialectical Method; Absolute Idealism

6.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.

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, Sartre, 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.


Theory of Knowledge; Rejection of Transcendent Entities


Theory of Reality Saptabhangi Naya; Bondage and Liberation

14.Schools of Buddhism:

Pratityasamutpada; Ksnikavada, Nairatmyavada

15.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.


Prakriti; Prurusa; Causation; Liberation


Citta; Cittavrtti; Klesas;Samadhi ; Kaivalya.

18.Schools of Vedanta:

Brahman; Isvara ;A-tman ;Jiva ; Jagat;Ma-ya- ;Adhya-sa ;Moksa ; Amrtasiddhi; Pancavidhabheda

19 Aurobindo:

Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga.

Paper II

A.Social and political  philosophy 

1.Social and Political Ideals:

Equality, Justice, Liberty.


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


Secularism; Multiculturalism.

6.Crime and Punishment: 

Corruption, Mass Violence, Genocide, Capital Punishment.

7.Development and Social Progress.

What is Development? Necessity of Scientific Temper and it’s Positive and Negative Outcomes. Features and Conditions of Progress and Its Comparison with Development. Discussion over the question that have we actually done the Progress?

8.Gender Discrimination:

Female Foeticide, Land and Property Rights; Empowerment.

9.Caste Discrimination: 

Gandhi and Ambedkar

1.Philosophy of Religion: 

1.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).

2.Problem of Evil.

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.

4.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.

5.Religious Experience:

Nature and Object (Indian and Western).

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.

6.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 a Hurdle in Morality? Is Morality necessary for Religion?

7.Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Absolute Truth.

: Different faiths claiming the Truth, Structure of Religious Plurality, different solutions of Concept and “A Religion”.

8.Nature of Religious Language:

Analogical and Symbolic; Cognitive and Non- cognitive.

Philosophy is divided into four segments like, Western Philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Social-political philosophy, and religious philosophy.
To fully understand the subject, we must have the right books. 

Booklist for the subject :

Paper I

  1. W. T. Stace: A Critical History of Greek Philosophy (Plato and Aristotle).
  2. Copleston: A History of Philosophy (Relevant Chapters from volume I, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX & XI).
  3. Anthony Kenny: A New History of Western Philosophy. OUP Oxford.
  4. Datta & Chatterjee: An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Rupa Publishing.
  5. C. D. Sharma: A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy. MLBD.
  6. Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

Paper II

  1. John Hick: Philosophy of Religion.
  2. Michael B. Wilkinson: Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction.
  3. O. P. Gauba: Social & Political Philosophy.
  4. Political Theory, An Introduction. Edited By Rajeev Bhargava & Ashok Acharya.
  5. Oxford Dictionary of Politics.

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