Why Choose Philosophy as an Optional Subject for USPC

Preparation for the Civil Services Exam is a race against time. Thus, the key to success is efficient time management. As far as General Studies Papers are concerned, an aspirant must prepare the syllabus extensively and comprehensively regularly. However, one can opt for an Optional Subject of one's own will.

The Optional Subject can significantly make or mar one's chances of becoming an IAS. Hence, one must choose the Optional Subject discerningly, carefully and carefully to pursue coveted aspiration. In this regard, Philosophy needs a special mention since it is the Subject that can pave the path towards success in multiple ways. As an Optional Subject, Philosophy has several points of strength.

Points of Strength:

1.     In a brief period, Philosophy can be prepared sufficiently & comprehensively, once and all, with no ado.

2.     Students do not require any prior background in the Subject to opt for Philosophy as an Optional Paper. Philosophy epitomises being the parent of every discipline since every other Subject originated from it. Thus, Philosophy is like the most elementary Subject; it is the fountainhead of every knowledge system, and, therefore, it does not presuppose any prior knowledge of the Subject.

3.     Compared to the other Optional Subjects, the syllabus of Philosophy is almost one-third of their syllabi. Further, the syllabus is not only short and precisely defined, but the themes of Paper I & Paper II are such that they form a continuum. A meaningful study of Paper I simultaneously results in the substantial coverage of Paper II. Thus, in a limited period entire syllabus can be covered.

4.     The dividends of studying Philosophy are not only confined to its designated 500 marks. Instead, one can reap the benefits of studying Philosophy in the General Studies Paper IV: Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude, Essay, and in the Interview.

5.     Ethics is one of the principal branches of Philosophy, and therefore after studying Philosophy, a student will be better endowed to deal with the challenges of ethics paper. Philosophy can teach a critical outlook towards life and make one more insightful, self-reliant and original.

6.     Philosophy can significantly improve the student's thinking and writing, extending substantial help to the essay paper. Further, invariably, themes of Essay Paper hover around issues of Democracy, Justice, Environment, Corruption, Gender, Religion, Caste etc., and these are the principal themes of Paper II of Philosophy.

7.     Philosophy can impart the proper orientation towards life and enable an aspirant to answer questions in Interviews more intelligently with profound insights. Thus, Philosophy can metamorphose an aspirant into an able IAS.

Philosophy optional books

Paper I

1.    W. T. Stace: A Critical History of Greek Philosophy (Plato and Aristotle).

2.    Copleston: A History of Philosophy (Relevant Chapters from volume I, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX & XI).

3.    Anthony Kenny: A New History of Western Philosophy. OUP Oxford.

4.    Datta & Chatterjee: An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Rupa Publishing.

5.    C. D. Sharma: A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy. MLBD.

6.    Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

Paper II

1.    John Hick: Philosophy of Religion.

2.    Michael B. Wilkinson: Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction.

3.    O. P. Gauba: Social & Political Philosophy.

4.    Political Theory, An Introduction. By Rajeev Bhargava & Ashok Acharya.

5.    Oxford Dictionary of Politics