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 (2022)
SECTION – A
1. Answer the following in 150 words each:
a)How does Plato use the theory of forms to establish the realtion between epistemology and metaphysics? Discuss.
b)What is Bertrand Russell’s method of logical anaysis? How does it ultimately end in establishing atomic theory of meaning? Discuss.
c)Establish the tenabilty of later Wittgenstein’s motion of language as form of life.
d)What is psychologism? Critically discuss the way Edmund Husserl avoids the problem of psychologism in the discourse of transcendental phenomenology.
e)What is apperception, according to Immanuel Kant? Discuss with reference to his transcendental exposition of space and time.
2. a) Provide a critical account of Heideggaer’s Being-in-the-world and discuss the problem of ‘authenticity’ in the context of Dasein.
b) Is Aristotle’s view of nature of identity in consonance with his metaphysical view of causes as processes? Discuss giving suitable examples.
c) Discuss the concept of substance according to Spinoza. Does his discussion on substance lead to pantheism? Substantiate your view.
3. a) How does Kant construct and antinomies to illustrate the illusory tendencies of pure reason? Explain and examine the antinomies presented by Kant.
b) What is the dialectical method in the philosophy of George Wilhelm Hegal? How does this method help in realizing the Absolute? Discuss.
c) Is there any difference between pictorial form and logical form in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s picture theory of langauge? How does the logical form define the realtion between language and reality? Explain.
4. a) How does Soren Kierkegaard define the notion of ‘subjectivity’ ? Explain it with reference to three stages of existence as propounded by him.
b) How does Rene Descartes explain the notion of certainty with reference to knowledge of the self? Critically discuss the way it differs from the knowledge of the world.
c) Why and how does John Locke refute the innate ideas? Elucidate the nature and source of knowledge in Locke’s epistemology.
SECTION – B
5. Answer the following in 150 words each:
a). Examine and evaluate the proofs given by Samkhya philosophy to prove the existence of Purusa.
b). What is the ontological status of Samanya, according to Vaisesika Philosophy ? Critically examine.
c). Discuss the nature and different stages of Samadhi as per Patanjala voga and examine the role of Isvara in it.
d). How does Jaina view of Karma bear upon their soteriology? Critically discuss.
e). Do you agree with the view that ‘Vivartavada is the logical development of Parinamavada’? Give reasons in support of your answer.
6. a). How compatible is Buddhist theory of momentariness with their theory of Karma? In this regard how do Buddhists respond to objections raised by their opponents? Critically discuss.
b). ‘The doctrine of ‘Relativism’ of Jain Philosophy cannot be logically sustained without postulating ‘Absolutism’.’ Critically examine this view and give reasons in the favour of your answer.
c). How do refute the Nyaya view that Implication (arthapatti) is reducible to Inference (anumana) and establish Implication as an independent means of valid a knowledge (pramana)? Critically discuss.
7. a). Inspite of accepting the intrinsic validity of knowledge, why and how Prabhakar and Kumarila differ in their interpretation of erroneous cognition? Discuss.
b). Explain Buddhist concept of Trratna and their internal relation. Critically examine the consistency of Trratnas with the Buddhist concept of No-soul (Nairatmyavada).
c). How do Naiyayikas respond to Carvika’s objections against inference (anumana) and establish inference as an independent means of knowledge? Critically discuss.
8. a). ‘Brahma satyam jaganmithya, jivo Brahmaiva näparah’. In the light of this statement explain the ontological status of Isvara, Jiva and Säksi as elucidated in Advaita Vedanta.
b). Explain and evaluate the role of integral yoga in the process of triple transformation for individual evolution as expounded by Sri Aurobindo.
c). How does the concept of liberation (Moksa) of Madhvacārya differ from that of Ramanujacarya ? Explain.
Philosophy Optional Question Paper-2 (2022)
SECTION – A
1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
a). Discuss the role of enlightenment movement in the rise of humanism.
b). In the age of individualism and universal franchise, what role does caste play in body-politic? Discuss.
c). In corruption a systemic issues or an ethical issue? Give your critical comments.
d). “Complete liberty may lead to inequality while order and restrictions imply a necessary loss of freedom.” Critically discuss.
e). What are the moral justifications of capital punishment? Discuss.
2. a). What arguments does Bodin present to contend that sovereignty must be absolute, perpetual and undivided? Is Bodin’s conception of sovereignty compatible with the social and political ideals of equality, justice and liberty? Critically discuss.
b). Critically evaluate Gandhi’s views on eradication of caste discrimination.
c). Explain the difference between the notion of equity and equality with reference to Marxian philosophy.
3. a). Do you agree that economic development does not on its own lead to human development and social progress? Give reasons and justifications for your answer.
b). Discuss gender as a cultural category as opposed to sex as a biological category.
c). Critically analyze the descriptive and normative aspects of multiculturalism.
4. a). Discuss propaganda as a challenge to democratic form of government.
b). Does idea of unconditional rights necessarily lead to anarchy? Critically examine.
c). Are monarchy and theocracy necessarily related? Discuss with reference to the theory of Divine Right.
SECTION – B
5. Answer the following questions in about 150 words cach:
a). Write an essay on Spinoza’s notion of God and His attributes.
b). “One can have morality without religion but not religion without morality.” Discuss?
c). “Immortality of Soul is a necessary postulate for rebirth.” Critically examine with reference to Buddhism.
d). Is the notion of faith indispensable for the idea of revelation? Critically comment.
e). Explain the difference between the cognitivist and non-cognitivist approaches to the religious language with reference to the statement– “God exists”.
6. a). Present a critical exposition of different arguments offered by St. Thomas Aquinas to prove the existence of God also known as ‘Five Ways’. Which one of them do you find philosophically most interesting? Give reasons in support of your answer.
b). Explain the relation between the God and the Self according to Rāmānujāchārya.
c). If God is the Absolute Creator, then the responsibility of the evil cannot belong to the human agent. Critically examine.
7. a). “An unquestionable acceptance of only one Absolute Truth will ineviatably result in religious exclusivism.” Discuss.
b). Is it possible to have an idea of Liberation without the conception of a real agent? In this context, discuss the difference between Advaita and Vishistadvaita systems of thought.
c). Discuss the nature and variety of religious experiences as presented by William James.
8. a). Discuss the main points of distinction between a priori and a posteriori arguments for the existence of God. Which one according to you should be preferred over the other? Give reasons and justifications for your answer.
b). Discuss the nature of Soul and Bondage according to Jainism.
c). Critically examine the idea of Brahman in Advaita philosophy of Shankara. Does Shankara’s conception of Brahman leave room for theism? Discuss.
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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