UPSC CSE Mains Optional-Philosophy Syllabus

Clearing UPSC exam with Philosophy as an optional paper is comparatively easy. It can be checked by the success ratio of past few UPSC results. Reason of popularity of Philosophy as an optional paper in IAS Mains are several. First, Philosophy syllabus is very short. Second, it helps in ethics paper. Third, It is easy to understand as well as to retain in memory for long term.

Syllabus of UPSC Optional Philosophy for IAS Mains Exam


History and Problems of Philosophy

1. Plato and Aristotle

Concept of Idea

Substance Theory

Form and Matter

Theory of Causation

Ideas of Potentiality & Actuality


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2. Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz): (All create System)

Cartesian Method

Certain Knowledge; Substance

God and nature

Mind-Body Dualism

Determinism and Human Bondage

Freedom and Free Speech.


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3. Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume)

Theory of Knowledge

Substance and Primary and Secondary Qualities;

Self and God;

Radical Scepticism.



4. Kant

Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments;

analytic–synthetic distinction

Space and Time

Categories (Pure concept of understanding)

Ideas of Reason


Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God


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5. Hegel

Absolute Idealism

Dialectical Method

6. Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein:

Defence of Common sense

Refutation of Idealism

Ideal language & Logical Atomism

Logical Constructions

Picture Theory of Meaning

Incomplete Symbols

Saying and Showing

7. Logical Positivism:

Verification Theory of Meaning

Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions

Rejection of Metaphysics

8. Later Wittgenstein

Meaning and Use

Critique of Private Language



Helpful Link-



9. Phenomenology (Edmund Husserl)


Theory of Essences


10. Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger)

Existence and Essence


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 & Philosophy

Theory of Reality


Bondage and

Path to Liberation

14. Schools of Buddhism & Philosophy




15. Nyaya and Vaisesika

Theory of Categories

Theory of Appearance

Theory of Prama-na

Proofs for the Existence of God

Self, Liberation; God

Atomistic Theory of Creation

Theory of Causation

16. Samkhya





17. Yoga






18. Mimamsa

Theory of Knowledge

19. Schools of Vedanta:

Brahman; Isvara

Atman; Jiva; Jagat; Maya-

Avidya-; Adhyasa

Moksa; Aprthaksiddhi


20. Aurobindo & Philosophy

Evolution & Involution

Integral Yoga.


Philosophy Syllabus for UPSC Mains

Syllabus of Paper-II of UPSC Optional Philosophy for IAS Mains Exam

Socio-Political Philosophy

  1. Social and Political Ideals: Equality,Liberty,Justice
  2. Sovereignty: Austin, Laski, Kautilya, Bodin.
  3. Individual and State: Study of Rights; Duties and Accountability
  4. Forms of Government: Theocracy and Democracy, Monarchy.
  5. Political Ideologies: Marxism and Socialism, Anarchism.
  6. Secularism; Multiculturalism, Humanism.
  7. Crime and Punishment: Mass Violence, Corruption, Genocide, Capital Punishment.
  8. Development and Social Progress.
  9. Gender Discrimination: Empowernment,Female Foeticide, Land and Property Rights.
  10. Caste Discrimination: Gandhi and Ambedkar

Philosophy of Religion:

  1. Notions of God: Relation to Man and the World. Attributes.(Indian and Western).
  2. Proofs for the Existence of God and study of their Critique (Indian and Western).
  3. Problem of Evil.
  4. Soul: Rebirth, Liberation, Immortality.
  5. Reason, Revelation and Faith.
  6. Religious Experience: Nature and Object (Indian and Western).
  7. Religion and Morality.
  8. Religion without God.
  9. Religious Pluralism and concept of Absolute Truth.
  10. Nature of Religious Language: Cognitivist and Non- cognitive; Analogical and Symbolic.

Recommended Study Resources for UPSC optional Philosophy

Indian Philosophy

CD Sharma

Dutta and Chatterjee


Western Philosophy 

Y Masih for classical western philosophy.

Mitras Notes.

Philosophy of Religion

Notes from Patanjali or Mitras,

Y Masih

Socio-political Philosophy 

OP Gauba.

Notes from Mitras and Patanjali.


Philosophy Syllabus demands your time on internet as you will not find everything in text books. Get UPSC Syllabus for Common Papers in the given link.

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