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 (2023)
SECTION – A
1. Write short answers to the following in about 150 words each : 10×5=50 marks
(a) “Precepts without concepts are blind and concepts without precepts are empty.” In the light of this statement discuss how Kant reconciles rationalism with empiricism. 10 marks
(b) “History is a process of dialectical change.” In the light of this statement discuss Hegel’s approach in understanding history. 10 marks
(c) “That thing is said to be free which exists solely from the necessity of its own nature, and is determined to action by itself alone.” Discuss Spinoza’s views on freedom and determinism in the light of the above statement. 10 marks
(d) How does Kierkegaard argue against Hegel’s idea of universal spirit in favour of the individual as the essence of spirit? Critically discuss. 10 marks
(e) What are the main arguments offered by Kant to prove that apriori synthetic judgements are possible? Discuss with examples. 10 marks
2. (a) Critically analyse Hume’s argument that causality is a matter of habit/custom involving psychological principle of association. 20 marks
(b) Present an exposition of Aristotle’s distinction between actuality and potentiality. Does it provide a
solution to the problem of being and becoming as presented in ancient Greek philosophy? Discuss with suitable examples. 15 marks
(c) Discuss Descartes’ theory of innate ideas and the grounds on which Locke refutes it. 15marks
3. (a) Does the rejection of metaphysics as proposed by Logical Positivists relate to problem of meaning or problem of knowledge or nature of things or all of them together? Discuss with suitable examples. 20 marks
(b) Elucidate the significance of bracketing and reduction in Husserl’s phenomenological method. 15 marks
(c) “Consciousness is what it is not and is not what it is.” In the light of this statement bring out the chief features of Sartre’s conception of consciousness. 15 marks
4. (a) Why does Strawson consider person to be a primitive concept? What implication does it have for the mind-body dualism? Discuss. 20 marks
(b) Why according to Russell is the proposition – “The present king of France is bald” problematic ? Critically
discuss. 15 marks
(c) What were the main reasons that led Wittgenstein to shift from picture-theory of meaning to(use-theory of meaning) Critically discuss. 15 marks
SECTION – B
5. Write short notes on the following: (Each note should not exceed 150 words) 10 × 5 = 50 marks
(a) “All human knowledge is empirical and therefore relative. Critically examine Jaina theory of sevenfold judgement (saptabhanginaya) in the light of above statement. 10 marks
(b) “If Purusa and Prakṛti are two completely independent realities, then no relation between the two is possible.” In the light of this statement make a brief presentation of Sankara’s criticism of Samkhya dualism. 10 marks
(c) What is Advaitin interpretation of the great sentence (mahāvākya) ‘Thou art that’ ( tat tvam asi)? Briefly discuss. 10 marks
(d) Present an account of Vaiseşika’s view of negation in the light of their statement- “Negation always has a counterpositive and absolute negation is an impossibility.” 10 marks
(e) Explain the nature and role of Supermind in evolution as per Aurobindo’s philosophy. 10 marks
6. (a) Discuss Rāmānuja’s criticism of Sankara’s conception of Brahman and Isvara (God). 20 marks
(b) Present Bhatta’s view of anupalabdhi (non-cognition) as a valid means of knowledge. 15 marks
(c) Elucidate Naiyayikas view of ordinary) and (extraordinary perception, Are justified in accepting that universals are perceived Discuss. 15 marks
7. (a) Elucidate Naiyayikas account of fallacies of the middle term m relation to five characteristics of valid middle term. 20 marks
(b) Liberation is defined by Advaita Vedäntins as attainment of that which is already attained’. How does Sankara illustrate this statement Discuss with your own comments. 15 marks
(c) (Crandhi) Explain Chitta and its modifications in the philosophy of Yoga. Why does Yoga philosophy prescribe(cessation of modifications of Chitta)? Give reasons in support of your answer. 15 marks
8. (a) “Ignorance of dependent origination is suffering while its knowledge is cessation. of suffering.” Present an account of Buddhist soteriology in the light of above statement. 20 marks
(b) Write a note on Nyaya notion of Prāgabhāva (prior non-existence). How does this notion help Naiyayikas in defending their position on causation against the Samkhya view of causation ? Critically discuss. 15 marks
(c) Do words refer to universals or particulars or both? Present an exposition of Nyaya and Mimämsä position with regard to above question along with suitable examples. 15 marks
Philosophy Optional Question Paper-2 (2023)
SECTION – A
1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
(a) What is meant by justice as fairness ? Explain Rawls’ theory of justice. 10 marks
(b) Critically examine the anarchist’s view that “all States always and everywhere are illegitimate and unjust.” 10 marks
(c) Do you agree that the rights concerning land andpproperty have empowered women? Discuss. 10 marks
(d) Critically examine the challenges faced by a multicultural society with reference to India. 10 marks
(e) If monarchs are above politics, can monarchy be a systematic form of government? Discuss. 10 marks
2. (a) Elucidate why the absolute nature of sovereignty was rejected by Laski. 20 marks
(b) Do you agree that duty and accountability must be given priority over rights for the better functioning of a State? Justify your answer. 15 marks
(c) In the present scenario, will the emphasis on skill education enhance development? Evaluate. 15 marks
3. (a) Explain Historical Materialism and discuss its relevance in the extract of social development and change. 20 marks
(b) Critically analyse the social and political significanoe of Ambellkers notion of annihilation of caste. 15 marks
(c) How does gender discrimination lead to female foeticide and social imbalance? Discuss. 15 marks
4. (a) Severity of punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime,” – Do you agree that while punishing a juvenile, the nature of the crime should be considered? Justify your answer. 20 marks
(b) Explain the challenges faced by a democratic state and the ways to overcome them. 15 marks
(c) Secularism is not a rejection of religion but acceptance of all religions. Discuss. 15 marks
SECTION – B
5. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each : 10 x 5 = 50 marks
(a) Elucidate the personalistic and impersonalistic aspects of God. 10 marks
(b) Can religious beliefs be justified ? Discuss. 10 marks
(c) Does religion influence the moral behavigur? Explain the interactive relation between religion and morality. 10 marks
(d) Discuss Wittgenstein’s view about the non-cognitive nature of religious language. 10 marks
(e) What is Agnosticism ? How do agnostics conceptualize the relation between religion and God? Discusss. 10 marks
6. (a) Critically examine Plato’s apriori proofs for the immortality of the soul. 20 marks
(b) In what sense is God both immanent and transcendent in theism ? Discuss. 15 marks
(c) Explain the rational and irrational aspects of faith in the discourse of religion. 15 marks
7. (a) Critically examine of arguments of Nyaya of the existance of God. 20 marks
(b) Examine the significance of the concept of of rebirth in theory of Karma. 15 marks
(c) Explain the symbolic nature of religious language according to Tillich. 15 marks
8. (a) “All evil is either sin or punishment for sin.” – St. Augustine, Critically discuss. 20 marks
(b) Does religious pluralism invite inter-religious conflicts and destroy the ruth of religion? Discuss. 15 marks
(c) Examine the relation between mystical experience and revelation and pound their significance in the religious life. 15 marks
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.
In case you still have your doubts, contact us on 9811333901.
For UPSC Prelims Resources, Click here
For Daily Updates and Study Material:
Join our Telegram Channel – Edukemy for IAS
- 1. Learn through Videos – here
- 2. Be Exam Ready by Practicing Daily MCQs – here
- 3. Daily Newsletter – Get all your Current Affairs Covered – here
- 4. Mains Answer Writing Practice – here