About Philosophy Optional:
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; 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.
12. Carvaka: Theory of Knowledge; 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.
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; Multiculturalism.
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. The 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.
How to prepare for philosophy optional for IAS?
Philosophy is one of the optional subjects offered by UPSC for the civil service main exam. It is the only optional subject that has the shortest syllabus. It takes almost two months to cover the philosophy optional syllabus if the preparation is done in the right way. Also, the entire syllabus is static so no updates about current affairs are needed. This indeed reduces the extra efforts and you can devote extra time to preparing for other subjects. Also philosophy optional helps to get knowledge about other optional subjects also. So you get acquainted with various philosophers who are again asked in ethics papers. Given below are few tips that can be taken into account during preparation.
1. It is very important to thoroughly study the whole syllabus of anthropology optional twice and thrice. And then keep on revising it as many times as possible. Revision helps to absorb the things in a better way. It helps to keep the whole of the syllabus in our brain for a longer duration. If a student keeps on learning and doesn’t revise what he has studied then he tends to forget the thing on the day of the exam. This is because what he/studies didn’t ever get registered in his brain. Thus revision is the key factor to restore things in the brain.
2. Most of the books available are too huge and thick that day before the exam a candidate cannot solely study from it. So it’s always better to make notes out of the available books and study materials. Writing down 1000pages into a short summary of 100pages helps in a quick revision. This exercise of making notes also saves a lot of time and energy. At the end of the notes made by you is something which will help you a lot in exam preparation.
3. Confidence helps to boost your morale during the preparation. It helps to overcome stress which every candidate tends to face every day. Since IAS exam preparation is not also easy, so many times candidates feel to give up. But by being confident you can easily overcome the stress and the negative thoughts that occupy your mind. It helps in concentration and you are able to focus more on your studies well. It helps you to remain calm and composed throughout your preparation.
4. Practicing past year paper is one of the most vital factors involved in the preparation. If you practice past year papers then you can an idea of what exactly has been asked in the previous exam. And about what are the important topics through which most of the questions arise in the exam. This helps to plan your preparation in a better way and study properly. If you are well versed with previous exam papers then you get an insight into what is most important from the exam point of view and accordingly you can solve and practice questions for the final examination.
5. Another crucial aspect of preparation is to divide the day into slots. A candidate can make a proper schedule and divide time accordingly to each subject. For philosophy, optional subjects make a study plan. In the study plan, you can set the topics which you will be covered by the end of the day, week, and after that set monthly targets. Also after every week whole of the syllabus covered in the entire week can be revised. This is to stay in touch with the previously done topics. This is one of the best revision methods and helps to gain a basic understanding of the whole of the syllabus.
6. It is recommended to study lengthy questions. Prepare a list of topics that can come as lengthy questions. Practice them thoroughly multiple times in order to gain clarity on the topic. And if the question comes in the exam from that particular topic, a candidate can easily score well in that answer.
Also, it can be solved faster since that topic has already been covered during preparation and can be answered faster which will in turn help to solve the paper faster and time saved can be used for answering the remaining questions.
7. Another important aspect is starting your preparation early. As soon as you give the preliminary exams focus on preparing for the mains exam. It requires proper time in order to cover the entire syllabus. So give proper time to the subject in order to avoid last moment preparation and stress. If you will start your preparation late then it will be tough to cover the whole syllabus. Also if you will prepare early then you will have enough time left for revision which is needed for proper retention of the syllabus.
8. For better results understand the topics at which you are good and others not so good. Focus on improving the weak topics and practice the questions relate to topics at which you are good. This will help you in doing preparation in the right manner and score well. Also, this analysis will give you a deeper understanding of your strength and weakness which will be very helpful. You will be more self aware about the weak areas of the syllabus which further require your attention. So while writing the answer in final exam, first try to attempt questions that are asked from the topics at which you are strong. This will boost your confidence in the exam. And then go on to write answers at which you are not so good. In this way, you will be able to attend the paper in a proper format and in a more systematic way.
9. Sometimes in exams students are so busy that they tend to commit many silly mistakes. So while solving questions many students note down wrong facts of the questions which lead to the wrong answer and hence students lose marks in the paper. Try to avoid doing such mistakes in the exam and read every question carefully before giving any kind of answer.