Strategy to Prepare Philosophy
Philosophy as an optional
subject has become very popular in UPSC. As we know, it has monopolised State
Services already. Philosophy has shortest syllabus so it can be prepared within
minimum time with reasonable effort.
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Generally students think that Philosophy is
absurd subject and it has no practical relevence but it is not true picture of
the subject. Philosophy is very analytical and speculative that makes it very
interesting and highly scoring.
The syllabus of ‘Preliminary
examination has three sections : Section A, B and C. Section A is Problem of
philosophy’. Here we are concerned with Indian Philosophy and Western
Philosophy. So we have to read them thoroughly. The questions are generally
asked on terminology and theories like ‘What is Pratitya Samutpada?’. We must
have understanding of terms and theories. In Indian Philosophy there are nine
schools. Six schools are orthodox (Samkhya Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika Mimansa and
Vedanta) and two are heterodox (Jainism and Buddhism). One other school is
Materialism. UPSC generally asks questions in Indian philosophy on some specific
points like substance, attributes. In western philosophy there is no precise
syllabus. Generally questions are asked from Thales to Sartre.
deals with Logic. Here we have
to read only seven topics from Irwin M. Copi. Plus we have to study Symbolic
Logic by Dr. Ashok Verma. Generally 30-35 questions are asked from logic in
Prelims. 20 questions are just theoretical : they do not need any explanation.
5-8 questions are on Quantification which also can be answered at first sight if
you have already practised. Remaining 5-8 questions are from Deduction which
need explanation : this depends upon your practice and even these are not
deals with Ethics. It consists
of Indian Ethics and Western Ethics. In Indian Ethics questions are from
Charvaka to Vedanta. Dr. Divakar Pathak’s book on Indian Ethics is essential for
this section. In Western Ethics, questions are from Thales’ to Advanced Ethics.
Here we have to study Thilly and another book by Dr. V.P. Verma. The question in
this section are generally factual so we have to collect facts and memorize
Strategy to Prepare Philosophy
Paper I deals with Indian
Philosophy and Western Philosophy. Here we have to attempt 5 questions out of 8.
2 questions are compulsory which are generally on specific topics. The
compulsory question of Indian philosophy is generally on epistemology or it can
be a short note. In Western Philosophy the compulsory question is mostly a short
note. The first paper is highly scoring because all the questions are
predictable. We have to critically examine the questions and give as many
comments as possible. The questions are generally direct like refutation of
inference given by Charvakay Syatvada and Anekantavada in Jainism, Pratitya
Samutpada and Kshan Bhangvada in Early Buddhism, Shunyavada and Vigyanvada in
Later Buddhism, Purush prakriti and Theory of Evolution from Samkhya, categories
and atomism from Vaisheshika, Brahma and Maya from Sankara, Qualified
non-dualism and refutation of Mayaism from Ramayanya. These are the common
questions on Indian Philosophy which are generally asked in UPSC. In Western
philosophy, theories of ideas of Plato, substance and form of Aristotle, ‘Cogito
ergo sum’ of Descartes, substance or pantheism of Spinoza, monadology of
Leibnitz, Esse est percipi of Berkeley, Scepticism of Hume, Synthetic a priori
judgement of Kant, Truth is rational and rational is truth of Hegel, appearance
and reality of Bradley, Radical empiricism of James, Common sense philosophy and
refutation of idealism of Moore, Logical atomism and Theory of Description of
Rusell, Eliminaation of metaphysics and verification theory of Ayer, Picture
theory and language game of Wittgenstein, Category mistake of Ryle Nothingness
of Heidegger, Existence precedes essence and man is condemned to be free of
Sartre— all the common questions of Western philosophy.
Paper II has 2 sections and
there are also 2 compulsory questions in each sections (one from each section).
Philosophy of religion and Socio-political philosophy are the 2 sections of
Paper II. Philosophy of religion is very short. There are only 7 topics in the
whole syllabus and always 1 question from each topic. If certain specific topics
are covoered, philosophy of religion can be covered easily. In the section of
socio- political philosophy there are 11 topics given inour syllabus. There are
some topics which are invariably asked like Sarvodaya, Gandhism, comparison
between Marxism and Gandhism and sort notes are always on political ideals
(equality, liberty, sovereignity and justice).