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Best Philosophy Books for UPSC Optional – Top Indian Books

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Best Philosophy Books for UPSC Optional: In the main exam, your optional make up the majority of 500 marks. Therefore, it is essential to select an optional that not only inspires your interest but will also let you earn the highest possible score, ensuring that your overall score stays well over the cutoff point. The candidate has the option of choosing philosophy as one of their optional studies. It offers a high-scoring possibility with the shortest syllabus in the UPSC Mains exam. So let’s discover more about the top philosophy books, Indian philosophy books, and the best philosophy books. Why philosophy is a good optional subject to take and how to study for this exam.


Philosophy is a branch of study that looks at human behavior, relationships, thought processes, and society as a whole. The conducting body releases the philosophy curriculum. Compared to other non-technical topics in IAS UPSC CSE Mains, its syllabus is the shortest. Paper VII and Paper VIII in the UPSC CS (Main) Exam are optional subjects. The total score for each paper is 250. For a total of 500 marks, the optional subject is thus. Because it overlaps with other general studies and essay topics on the syllabus and is relevant, philosophy is one of the most popular optional subjects.

English Literature, another UPSC optional subject, is also available here. In addition, you may find information on the syllabus on who should take the UPSC Main English Literature Optional Subject, How to Prepare, Bonus Tips, and other key information.

Best Philosophy Books


Indian and Western philosophy are the topics of Paper I in the Philosophy Optional. There is no actual use; it is simply conceptual. The philosophy of a candidate cannot be written by them. The list of philosophy books that are optional for paper 1 is provided below. It will aid candidates in learning about all the subjects included in the paper.

  1. History and Problem of Philosophy
    • Frank Thilly’s A History of Philosophy
    • C D Sharma presents a survey of Indian philosophy.
    • Doctor Daya Krishna’s Indian Philosophy: A Counter Perspective
    • Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s Indian Philosophy II Volume
  2. Existentialism
    • David Cooper’s Existentialism: A Reconstruction.
    • Jean  Paul’s Existentialism Is A Humanism
  3. Indian & Western Philosophy
    • S. Chatterjee’s An Introduction to Indian Philosophy
    • Frank Thilly, “A History of Philosophy”
    • C. Sharma’s A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy
    • Dr. B.K. Lal on Modern Western Philosophy

Best Philosophy Books


The extremely broad and inclusive Paper II of Philosophy Optional includes topics of general interest. Philosophy of religion and sociopolitics are addressed. The Best Philosophy Books for UPSC are required to cover the concepts from this section of Paper 2 of the philosophy optional. All of the themes from paper 2 are covered in these books, which will allow you to do well on the paper 2 of the optional philosophy course.  The list of philosophy books that are optional for paper 2 is provided below. It will aid candidates in learning about all the subjects included in the paper.

  • Frank Thilly’s A History of Philosophy
  • Y Masih’s A Critical History of Western Philosophy
  • John H. Hick’s Philosophy of Religion
  • O P Gauba’s An Introduction to Political Theory
  • Y Masih’s Introduction to Religious Philosophy

Best philosophy books


In philosophy optional paper 1, Indian philosophy plays a significant role. In the interview round, questions about this subject will also be asked. Applicants should use the top Indian philosophy books to study this portion for this reason. The following are a few of the top books on Indian philosophy:

  • Indian Philosophy: An Introduction, by S. Chatterjee
  • Indian Philosophy: A Critical Survey, by C. Sharma
  • Indian Philosophy: A Counter Perspective by Dr. Daya Krishna
  • Indian Philosophy: Volume II by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan


  • Regardless of academic experience, every candidate may choose the optional philosophy course. Philosophy optional is an option for those who can articulate their thoughts well. But consistent practice will lead to this rational attitude.
  • Philosophy makes up one-third of the curriculum, compared to other optional disciplines. You’ll be relieved to learn that you can complete the course earlier than expected. When you choose philosophy as your optional subject, you will feel less burdened and be able to concentrate more on key topics.
  • 8.9% success rate is very high. The entire curriculum is static; there is no current material.
  • Unlike other subjects, it does not need to be updated with any recent developments.
  • It appeals to people who enjoy talking about spirituality and the soul and have a tendency to wander off in thought.
  • There is no requirement for philosophy; certain questions can be solved based on general knowledge alone.


A candidate needs to develop a solid plan in order to perform well in a topic like philosophy, which is quite competitive. Western philosophy, Indian philosophy, social-political philosophy, and religious philosophy are the four main topics of philosophy. Let’s study the planning process for each of these:

  1. Space and time are limited for the main exam. You have a constrained amount of room and time to communicate the solution in the most effective way feasible. As a result, it’s helpful to have an outline or framework in mind before starting to write.
  2. A concise and clearly specified syllabus It can be completed in less time because it has the smallest syllabus of all the optional subjects offered for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. The optional philosophy course can be finished in two months.
  3. The first paper of the optional exam covers both Western and Indian philosophy. You must answer 2 mandatory questions from each of these sub-parts of the paper, along with 5 out of the 8 questions in this paper.
  4. Sanskrit philosophical terminology can be used to enhance the wording of the responses when writing about Indian philosophy. In their written responses, candidates may try to draw comparisons between Western ideas and those from Indian philosophy.
  5. Religious philosophy and Social-Political philosophy make up the two main sections of paper II in the optional philosophy course.
  6. There are just seven topics in total—one question from each—on the syllabus for philosophy of religion. The Socio-political Philosophy syllabus, on the other hand, covers 11 topics.
  7. Hindu editorials and articles from periodicals like Yojana and Kurukshetra might be used to prepare these. A common component of Hindu editorial is the discussion of significant philosophical issues.
  8. Write answers to questions as much as you can after thoroughly preparing the aforementioned themes. Use the information in your notes to draught responses, then have your mentors and subject-matter experts review them.
  9. Take brief notes as you read the UPSC philosophy books to make revision easier.
  10. Examine top scorers’ answer copies to get a sense of how your answers should be written, then practice writing answers in that style.
  11. Sign up for a test series so that you can have your answer copies analyzed and receive advice from mentors and experts.

Best philosophy books


Your success in the UPSC preparations will also depend on the decisions you make. This essay will give you information on how to prepare for philosophy as an optional topic, the Top Philosophy Books, Indian Philosophy Books, and more. Therefore, before making a choice, it is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages. Because it offers so many benefits, you can choose philosophy as an optional subject. For updates on exams and other topics, go to the UPSC website as well.


How can I select the best philosophy books for the UPSC?

Candidates must first review the philosophy syllabus and the key themes included in it in order to select the finest UPSC philosophy books. It will assist you in making the right book selection. Choose novels that you find comfortable and simple to read, and stick with reputable publishers.

Is philosophy a simple optional subject?

Due to its shorter Mains exam syllabus, candidates often take philosophy as an optional subject. The subject can be completed in as little as two months, which gives the student more time for the general studies paper. Current affairs have no bearing on the optional, which has a high score scale.

What Western philosophy books are required reading for the UPSC?

Western philosophy, which is covered in Paper 1 of the UPSC philosophy syllabus, is the philosophical outlook of the western world. Here are the top western philosophy books for UPSC. Frank Thilly’s A History of Philosophy, A Critical History of Western Philosophy by Y Masih, Contemporary Western Philosophy by Dr. B.K. Lal


Prelims, Mains, and Interview, are the three stages of the UPSC IAS Exam. All three phases should be properly focused on during the preparation process. Optional papers are important for a strong showing in the Mains test. One of the subjects where extensive and careful reading is required is philosophy. It features the shortest syllabus and offers the best chance of success in the UPSC Mains exam. Top philosophy optional books, Indian philosophy books, and a book on philosophy for UPSC are all included in this article. Why one should choose philosophy as an optional subject, Tips for the preparation and other information, you should discuss the theory’s importance or practicality as your final point. Lastly, Best wishes!


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Prelims Previous Years Papers – Subject & Year Wise

PRE SUBJECT201820172016201520142013
Science & Technology201820172016201520142013
Modern India201820172016201520142013
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MAINS SUBEJECT201820172016201520142013
Internal Security201820172016201520142013
Ethics – I201820172016201520142013
Ethics – II (Case Studies)201820172016201520142013
Environment and Ecology201820172016201520142013
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Agriculture201820172016No Question20142013
Indian Society2018201720162015 20142013

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