Welcome to a journey through the depths of philosophical inquiry in the context of the UPSC Mains Question Papers from 2013 to 2023. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is renowned for its rigorous examination process, and the inclusion of philosophy as an optional subject in the Mains examination reflects the significance of philosophical thought in shaping the minds of future administrators and leaders. Over the past decade, the questions posed in the philosophy paper have not only tested the depth of knowledge but also encouraged aspirants to think critically and apply philosophical concepts to real-world issues. In this blog series, we’ll delve into these questions, exploring the fascinating world of philosophy and how it relates to contemporary challenges in society and governance.
Whether you’re a UPSC aspirant aiming to master philosophy as an optional subject or a philosophy enthusiast keen on understanding the practical applications of philosophical ideas, this series promises to unravel the intellectual intricacies and philosophical conundrums presented in the UPSC Mains Question Papers. Together, we will examine the evolution of philosophical thought, the relevance of ancient and modern philosophies, and how these ideas can offer insightful solutions to complex societal issues. So, let’s embark on a philosophical journey that not only prepares you for a competitive exam but also equips you with the wisdom and insight to navigate the intricacies of life itself.
Question Paper Specific Instructions
- Please read each of the following instructions carefully before attempting questions :
- There are EIGHT questions divided in two SECTIONS and printed both in HINDI and in ENGLISH.
- Candidate has to attempt FIVE questions in all.
- Questions no. 1 and 5 are compulsory and out of the remaining, THREE are to be attempted choosing at least ONE from each section.
- The number of marks carried by a question / part is indicated against it.
- Answers must be written in the medium authorized in the Admission Certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this Question-cum-Answer (QCA) Booklet in the space provided. No marks will be given for answers written in a medium other than the authorized one.
- Word limit in questions, wherever specified, should be adhered to.
- Illustrate your answers with suitable sketches, maps and diagrams. These shall be drawn in the space provided for answering the question itself.
- Attempts of questions shall be counted in chronological order. Unless struck off, attempt of a question shall be counted even if attempted partly. Any page or portion of the page left blank in the answer book must be clearly struck off.
Philosophy Optional Question Paper-1 (2013)
SECTION – A
1. Write short answers to the following in about 150 words each : 10×5=50 marks
(a) Explain and evaluate Strawson’s arguments for his conception of the nature of a person. 10
(b) Explain Wittgenstein’s arguments against the possibility of private language. 10
(c) Distinguish necessary from empirical propositions. How is a necessary proposition justified?’Explain. 10 .’
(d) Discuss how by refuting the different concepts of substances Aristotle establishes his own theory of substance. 10
(e) What is an antinomy? Describe the major antinomies discussed by Kant. 10
2. (a) Explain Plato’s ontological theory of Forms. Is ‘knowledge’ one of the Forms? Give reasons. 12.5
(b) State Kant’s view of causality. How far is Kant able to answer Hume’s objection that causal relation lacks logical necessity? 12.5
(c) Distinguish between atomic and general propositions. Show how they are justified true. 12.5
(d) Write a short critical essay on Spinoza’s conception of freedom of the individual. 12.5
3. (a) Explain Descartes’ method of doubt. Can this method be used to justify his belief in the existence of God? Argue your case. 12.5
(b) Comment: ‘Movement is contradiction itself.’ Examine, in this context, Hegel’s dialectical method. 12.5
(c) Examine John Locke’s theory of substance. 12.5
(d) Examine Sartre’s distinction between Being-for-itself and Being-in-itself. 12.5
4. (a) Comment: ‘Moore’s defence of common sense essentially is defence of ordinary language. 12.5
(b) Analyse Kierkegaard’s concept of choice. Can there be, in his view, correct or incorrect choice Discuss. 12.5
(c) Give a critical account of Leibnitz’s’ principle of the identity of indiscernibles. 12.5
(d) Give a critical account of Hume’s theory of the Self. 12.5
SECTION – B
5. Write short answers to the following in about 150 words each: 10×5=50
(a) Analyse the relation between the theory of saptabhanginaya and anekantavada. 10
(b) Explain the Buddhists’ position of ‘Impermanence’ and show how the idea of Impermanence leads to the theory of momentariness of reality. 10
(c) How is the pramanya (validity/truth) of a statement determined? Examine, in this context, the theory of paratah-pramanyavada. 10
(d) Explain the possibility of jivanmukti. Critically compare it with the Yoga account of kaivalya. 10
(e) Explain Sri Aurobindo’s conception of cosmic salvation through spiritual evolution of the individual. 10
6. (a) Describe the five types of differences (panchavidhabheda). Bring out their philosophical significance for Madhva’s theory. 12.5
(b) What is samavaya ? What are the grounds for accepting samavaya as a distinct padartha ? Discuss. 12.5
(c) Evaluate the relation, if any, between purusa and prakrti. 12.5
(d) How can lsvara (God) be distinguished from Brahman (Absolute)? Which of the two concepts are philosophically better? 12.5
7. (a) Analyse the Nyaya concept of vyapti and examine its relation to tarka. 12.5
(b) Evaluate Prabhakara Mimamsaka’s arguments for accepting sruti as pramana. 12.5
(c) Examine, the Nyaya-Vaisesika arguments for the existence of jivatma (soul) .12.5
(d) Distinguish between Svarupa laksana and Tatastha laksana of Brahman after Sankara. 12.5
8. (a) Comment : ‘Accepting sunyavada makes one indifferent to the pursuit of dharma. Examine, in this context, Nagarjuna’s arguments for sunyavada. 12.5
(b) ‘Not karma, but knowledge alone leads to moksa.’ (Samkara). Do you agree? Justify your answer. 12.5
(c) Evaluate Ramanuja’s critique of Samkara’s theory of maya. 12.5
(d) Give a critical account of the concept of cittavrtti in Yoga philosophy. 12.5
Philosophy Optional Question Paper-2 (2013)
SECTION – A
1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
(a) Does Coupon have not only a moral dimension but also an economic dimension?
(b) What is the significance of including duties of citizens in the Indian Constitution?
(c) Does the idea of equal respect to all religions provide a consistent and viable state policy?
(d) Does the combination of democracy and socialism lead to a more equitable society?
(e) Is there any impact of caste discrimination on democracy in Indian context?
2. (A)What is meant by ‘democracy’? What are the various forms of democratic governments?
(b) Is a democratic government able to represent the interests of minority groups?
(c) Is a democratic government better than a benevolent dictatorship? Give reasons for your answer.
3. (a) What do you understand by ‘gender equality’ and why is it important?
(b) Is economic independence essential for equality between men and women?
(c) Why is adequate representation of women in political institutions important in this context?
4. (a) Explain and evaluate Aristotle’s conception of justice.
(b) What is meant by justice as fairness’? Explain the basic tenets of Rawls’ theory of justice.
(c) How is Amartya Sen’s approach to justice different from that of Rawls?
SECTION – B
5. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
(a) Is God indispensable for religion?
(b) Is religious morality consistent with individual freedom?
(c) Is there anything else other than human efforts which may be conducive to attainment of liberation?
(d) Do theists succeed in explaining the natural evil in the world as a necessary counterpart to good?
(e) Is religious faith opposed to reason?
6. (a) State and elucidate the cosmological argument for the existence of God in Western and Indian philosophy.
(b) Discuss two main objections against this argument. Are theists able to answer these satisfactorily?
(c) Critically evaluate three major objections against the argument from design for the existence of God.
7. (A) What is the nature of mystical experience?
(b) Is mystical experience open to different interpretations?
(c) Can mystical experience be regarded as a valid source of knowledge?
8. (a) What is meant by saying that religious language is non-cognitive?
(b) Can religious language be said to be verifiable?
(c) Do cognitivists provide a cogent answer to the objection based on falsifiability?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is the significance of studying philosophy in the UPSC Mains examination?
Answer: Philosophy offers a unique perspective on ethical, moral, and intellectual issues, which is crucial for future administrators. It helps candidates develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, making it relevant for the civil services.
Q: Are the philosophy questions in UPSC Mains focused on historical philosophy or do they cover contemporary topics as well?
Answer: The questions in UPSC Mains philosophy papers often bridge the gap between traditional philosophical concepts and their practical applications in contemporary scenarios. Aspirants are required to understand and analyze both historical and modern philosophical ideas.
Q: How can I prepare for philosophy in the UPSC Mains exam, especially if I have no prior background in philosophy?
Answer: While a background in philosophy can be beneficial, it’s not a prerequisite. Start with the basics, study important philosophers and their ideas, and practice answering previous years’ questions to grasp the pattern and approach required for philosophical questions.
Q: What is the role of philosophy in addressing real-world issues through the UPSC examination?
Answer: Philosophy equips future administrators with the ability to think critically and ethically. The questions in UPSC Mains challenge candidates to apply philosophical concepts to contemporary problems, enabling them to propose well-reasoned solutions.
Q: Can you provide some examples of the type of philosophical questions asked in the UPSC Mains from 2013 to 2023?
Answer: Certainly, the questions cover a wide range of topics. For instance, questions might address ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and more. These questions require candidates to not only understand philosophical concepts but also analyze and apply them to real-life situations.
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