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 (2020)
SECTION – A
1. Write short answers to the following in about 150 words each : 10×5=50 marks
a). How does Aristotle argue for the priority of Form over Matter and Actuality over Potentiality? Critically discuss.
b). How does Leibniz’s conception of monads bear upon his views on determinism and freedom? Discuss with your own comments.
c). What, according to Husserl, is wrong with psychologism? How does Husserl address the problems with psychologism in his phenomenological method?
d). Examine the reality of the phenomenal world in the light of Hegel’s Absolute ldealism.
e). “The Soul of Superman is Good.”
Critically examine the above statement in the light of logical positivism.
2. a). “I never can catch myself at any time without perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.” How does this statement by Hume problematize the philosophical notion of personal identity? How does Kant deal with this problem in his Critique of Pure Reason?
b). Critically discuss the following statement by Moore:
“If anyone tells us that to say ‘Blue exists’ is the same thing as to say that ‘Both blue and consciousness exists makes a mistake and a self-contradictory mistake. “
c). “The reason that I call my doctrine logical atomism is because the atoms that I wish to arrive at as the sort of last residue in analysis are logical atoms and not physical atoms” Write a note on the nature of atomic facts according to Russell in the light of the above statement.
3. a). What does Kierkegaard mean by saying “Subjectivity is the truth” in the context of the problem of ‘the single individual’?
b). Evaluate the role of spatio-temporal thinking in objective thinking with reference to Strawson’s theory of basic particulars.
c). When does Pure Reason enter into the realm of Antinomies according to Kant? Is Kant’s notion of Antinomies of Pure reason a natural culmination of his distinction between Phenomena and Noumena: provide reasons in favour of your answer.
4. a). “You can always make something out of what you have been made into.” Critically discuss this statement by Sartre with reference to his views on existentialism.
b). “From the necessity of the divine nature there must follow infinitely many ways.” Explain this statement by Spinoza along with some possible criticisms.
c). But could we also imagine a language in which a person could write down or give vocal expression to his inner experiences, his feelings, moods and the rest-for his private use”? Critically discuss the answer offered by Witlgenstein to this question.
SECTION – B
5. Write short notes on the following: (Each note should not exceed 150 words) 10 × 5 = 50 marks
a). Examine the concept of Karma according to Jainism. How does it bear upon their conception of Liberation?
b). Explain the difference between Samprajnata Samàdhi and Asamprajnata Samadhi
c). Why is memory not a valid knowledge according to Mihatmasa?
d). Point out the significance of the five-fold differences in the Dualistic School of Vedänta.
e). Discuss the nature and types of matier according to Nimbarka.
6. a). How is Kanikavada a logical derivative of Pratityasamutpada in Buddhism? Explain.
b). Critically evaluate Carvaka’s’ rejection of Ákasa as one of the elements of reality and examine their criticism of transmigration of Soul.
c). Explain the concepts of ‘Anyathasiddha’ and ‘Ananyathâsiddha’ in the context of Asatkaryavada.
7. a). A mango tree is grown out of a mango seed,” How will Samkhya system explain this process through their theory of causation by rejecting their rival perspectives?
b). How does Buddhism explain Self in terms of Pancaskandhas? What is Liberation for Buddhism if there is no Soul?
c). Explain the differences of conception of Reality between Cárvaka and Jainism.
8. a). What does Aurobindo mean by lite divine as a possibility and inevitability?
b). Critically evaluate the logical and metaphysical status of Visesa in the context of Vaisesika Philosophy.
c). Discuss the nature and relationship of Jiva and Jiva-sakshi to non-dualism.
Philosophy Optional Question Paper-2 (2020)
SECTION – A
1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
a). Is the concept of ‘liberty’ realizable in the modern technological society? Explain.
b). How far do the liberal democracies safeguard the interests of minorities? Evaluate critically.
c). Do you think that secularism requires complete separation of religion and ‘state’? Discuss.
d). Explain the importance of Bodin’s theory of sovereignty.
e). Do you think that the prevailing pandemic will lead to anarchism in society? Discuss.
2. a). State and examine the Gandhian concept of social development.
b). How far is Marxism as a philosophical doctrine relevant in the present context? Justify your answer.
c). Is Indian tradition antagonistic to Individual Rights? Consider it by taking recourse to the doctrine of Human Rights.
3. a). State and examine B.R. Ambedkar’s contribution towards social changes in Independent India.
b). What do you understand by multiculturalism? Explain the structural Characteristics that make a nation multicultural.
c). Do you think that retributive theory of punishment is against human rights? Discuss.
4. a). Do you agree that empowering women can eliminate gender discrimination? Discuss.
b). State and explain the relevance of the doctrine of sovereignty in times of globalization.
c). How far do the social and political regimes condition corrupt practices in a nation-state? Discuss.
SECTION – B
5. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
a). Discuss the significance of ‘Religion’ vis-à-vis the present scientific and technological development.
b). The concept of ‘Immortality’ is a basic presupposition of religion. Elaborate your answer.
c). Is it acceptable that the History of Religions is the History of Conflicts? Discuss.
d). Is there any compatibility between ‘Freedom of Will’ and ‘Omnipotent God’? Discuss.
e). What is the importance of religious tolerance in a multicultural pluralistic society? Justify your answer.
6. a). It is ontological proof for the existence of God by St. Anselm logical? Discuss.
b). What is the logical problem of evil? Discuss.
c). Critically examine the concept of God as prerequisite for a religion.
7. a). Discuss the nature of God in Hinduism with special reference to Vishisht Advaita (Qualified non-dualism).
b). Distinguish between prayer and worship and determine their place in religion.
c). What are the basic tenets of faith? Distinguish between faith and belief.
8. a). Does religious language carry cognitive content? Elucidate in detail.
b). Are religious beliefs and practices incompatible with moral behaviour ? Discuss.
c). Do you accept that knowledge, Action and Devotion are the means to attain liberation in Indian tradition? Discuss.
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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