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Philosophy as optional subject in UPSC

Here are some help tools for tackling Philosophy as an optional in the UPSC exams, ranging from the syllabus to reading list and other tips. These resources on Philosophy also include IAS Question Papers of Philosophy. We wish you to adopt the best strategy and become successful. We try our best to provide as many resources for your prepration of philosophy as possible, but if you can add to this list please feel free to send us links or study material and notes.


It is difficult to define the philosophy in precision, and an attempt to do so forms an interesting and important part of philosophy itself .If you go through the dictionary you will find that the term philosophy is derived from two Greek words – PHILOS & SOPHIA means ‘The love for wisdom or knowledge’. Right from the early period the term philosophy has taken on something of this meaning. Philosophy is different from other subjects not only because it makes an attempt to discover the most general and fundamental underlying principles, but is also different in its method that can be described as rational reflection. So philosophy is actually similar to the simple act of thinking hard about something .Unlike the sciences, the philosophy does not discover new empirical facts, but instead reflect on the facts we are already familiar with. The philosophy differs from other subjects in being normative. By normative we mean that unlike other disciplines philosophy tries to distinguish, in very broad ways, what is from what ought to be.


This would be too immature to judge any subject as good or bad because subject is totally subjective and relative thing. I just can say that philosophy as an optional subject is preferable due to the following reasons:

  • On account of its short syllabus.
  • It is a marks fetching optional.
  • It is based on scientific temper, reasoning and understanding.
  • Quick revision and no need to mug it up.
  • Analytical, logical and rational subject.
  • Nature of question remains almost same, so the student remains in a safe zone even after giving less time.
  • Makes you a think tank.
  • Above all, it helps in:
    • Essay writing
    • GS Paper I – Social issues
    • GS Paper II – Political issues
    • GS Paper IV – Ethics, etc.
    • Personality Test


Regarding a very common query of aspirants that who actually can opt this optional, I say that any student having science background (B.Tech, Medical or Masters in Sciences or Mathematics) or any student having background in humanities (like History, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology, etc.) can opt this optional. Actually the pre-requisite is just innovative and creative mind and academic background anyway, doesn’t make much difference.