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Philosophy Syllabus, UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam

UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Optional Subject consists of 2 papers. Each paper is of 300 marks, making a total of 600 marks.


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; 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

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.

Cârvâka :

Theory of Knowledge; Rejection of Transcendent Entities.


Theory of Reality; Saptabhaòginaya; Bondage and Liberation.

Schools of Buddhism:

Pratîtyasamutpâda; Ksanikavada, Nairâtmyavâda.

Nyâya- Vaiúesika:

Theory of Categories; Theory of Appearance; Theory of Pramâna; Self, Liberation; God; Proofs for the Existence of God; Theory of Causation; Atomistic Theory of Creation.


Prakrti; Purusa; Causation; Liberation.


Citta; Cittavrtti; Klesas; Samadhi; Kaivalya.


Theory of Knowledge.

Schools of Vedânta:

Brahman; Îúvara; Âtman; Jiva; Jagat; Mâyâ; Avidyâ; Adhyâsa; Moksa; Aprthaksiddhi; Pancavidhabheda


Evolution, Involution; Integral Yoga.


Socio-Political Philosophy

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; Empowernment.

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.