Philosophy is the study that questions and makes us think about the knowledge of our existence, our beliefs, thinking, wisdom, and reality of life, causes, and their explanations.
Philosophy subject deals with:
- The reason behind our existence and core fundamental theories associated with them.
- A particular system or school of thoughts.
- The study of the basis of knowledge upon which philosophical theories are framed.
- Famous philosophical thinkers and their explanations and theories.
- Concepts of behavioral philosophy and related questions.
- A part of religious studies as well.
- Scientific thinking for our beliefs and nature.
UPSC Philosophy Syllabus (Paper I)
History and Problems of Philosophy
- Plato and Aristotle: Ideas; Substance; Form and Matter; Causation; Actuality and Potentiality.
- Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz): Cartesian Method and Certain Knowledge; Substance; God; Mind-Body Dualism; Determinism and Freedom.
- Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume): Theory of Knowledge; Substance and Qualities; Self and God; Skepticism.
- Kant: Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments; Space and Time; Categories; Ideas of Reason; Antinomies; Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God
- Hegel: Dialectical Method; Absolute Idealism
- Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein: Defence of Commonsense; Refutation of Idealism; Logical Atomism; Logical Constructions; Incomplete Symbols; Picture Theory of Meaning; Saying and Showing.
- Logical Positivism: Verification Theory of Meaning; Rejection of Metaphysics; Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions.
- Later Wittgenstein: Meaning and Use; Language- games; Critique of Private Language.
- Phenomenology (Husserl): Method; Theory of Essences; Avoidance of Psychologism.
- Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger): Existence and Essence; Choice, Responsibility and Authentic Existence; Being-in-the –world and Temporality.
- Quine and Strawson: Critique of Empiricism; Theory of Basic Particulars and Persons.
- Carvaka: Theory of Knowledge; Rejection of Transcendent Entities.
- Jainism: Theory of Reality; Saptabhaòginaya; Bondage and Liberation.
- Schools of Buddhism: Pratîtyasamutpada; Ksanikavada, Nairatmyavada
- Nyaya- Vaiúesika: 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.
- Samkhya: Prakrti; Purusa; Causation; Liberation
- Yoga: Citta; Cittavrtti; Klesas; Samadhi; Kaivalya.
- Mimamsa: Theory of Knowledge
- Schools of Vedanta: Brahman; Îúvara; Atman; Jiva; Jagat; Maya; Avidya; Adhyasa; Moksa; Aprthaksiddhi; Pancavidhabheda
- Aurobindo: Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga.
Candidates planning for UPSC Exam may want to check the linked article.
UPSC Philosophy Syllabus (Paper II)
- Social and Political Ideals: Equality, Justice, Liberty.
- Sovereignty: Austin, Bodin, Laski, Kautilya.
- Individual and State: Rights; Duties and Accountability
- Forms of Government: Monarchy; Theocracy and Democracy.
- Political Ideologies: Anarchism; Marxism and Socialism
- Humanism; Secularism; Multiculturalism.
- Crime and Punishment: Corruption, Mass Violence, Genocide, Capital Punishment.
- Development and Social Progress.
- Gender Discrimination: Female Foeticide, Land and Property Rights; Empowerment.
- Caste Discrimination: Gandhi and Ambedkar
Philosophy of Religion
- 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).
- Problem of Evil.
- Soul: Immortality; Rebirth and Liberation.
- Reason, Revelation and Faith.
- Religious Experience: Nature and Object (Indian and Western).
- Religion without God.
- Religion and Morality.
- Religious Pluralism and the Problem of Absolute Truth.
- Nature of Religious Language: Analogical and Symbolic; Cognitivist and Noncognitive.
Preparation strategies for Philosophy
Here comes the catch as well, a good planning strategy to cover the syllabus by taking care of the depth of each topic will give you an upper hand in the subject.
- You could plan out a good time period of say two to two and a half months to prepare for the subject, including revision time.
- You could choose to refer good books and prepare your notes, or you could also attend a coaching centre to get a better grasp of the concepts.
- Once you get a good explanation of philosophical concepts and fundamentals, the rest could be a sweep.
- Many questions appear to be open questions which tend to brainstorm you to build your ideas and opinions/suggestions regarding a particular theory. That said, the subject is more of a comment based and opinionated type of pattern that will help you conquer your level of understanding and subject expertise.
- When we talk about human behavior and ethics, etc., there needs to be a level of conceptual understanding from the books. What we understand in general is a very vague idea perceived, and that shouldn’t be reflected in the paper. It gives the reader a very dull picture of the student’s opinion. A very formulative answer that is supported by strong theories and backed by comments and references could fetch more marks.
- A student needs to identify the roots of the concepts and how they are related to philosophy.
Books for reference
- A history of philosophy by Frank Thilly.
- An introduction to Indian philosophy by S.Chatterjee
- An introduction to political theory by O P Gauba.
- Philosophy of religion by John H Hick
- A critical survey of Indian philosophy by C Sharma.