Philosophy is one of the optional subjects that the aspirant can opt for. Philosophy is one of the topics on which broad and targeted reading is required. It has the shortest curriculum in the UPSC Mains exam with a high-scoring opportunity. Paper I of Philosophy optional discusses the philosophy of India and of the West. It is strictly philosophical but aspirants cannot write a philosophy of their own.

Optionally, Paper-II on philosophy is very wide-ranging and incorporates general interest topics. It discusses socio-political theory and religious philosophy. In this article, you will get the books for philosophy optional subject for civil services examination. Get the help of these books to prepare for the UPSC examination, if you go for philosophy as a subject.

Philosophy Books for UPSC

Below you will find the entire list of Philosophy books Paper wise and subject wise for UPSC:

Paper I

1 Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

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

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

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

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

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

Paper II

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

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

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

4 John Hick: Philosophy of Religion.

5 Oxford Dictionary of politics

Books Sub-Subject wise

Now you will get the list of philosophy books sub-subject-wise.

A Existentialism-

1 Existentialism: A Reconstruction by David Cooper

2 Existentialism Is A Humanism by Jean-Paul

B Indian Philosophy

1 A critical Survey of Indian Philosophy– S Chatterjee

2 An Introduction to Indian Philosophy– C Sharma

C Western Philosophy

1 A critical History of Western Philosophy– Y Masih

2 Contemporary Western Philosophy– Dr. B.K. Lal

3 A History of Philosophy– Frank Thilly

D Philosophy of Religion

1 Introduction to religious philosophy by Y Masih

2 Philosophy of religion by John H.Hick

E  History and Problems of Philosophy

1 Survey of Indian Philosophy by C D Sharma

2 Indian Philosophy, A counter Perspective by Dr Daya Krishna

3 A History of Philosophy by Frank Thilly

4 Indian Philosophy by Dr S Radha Krishnan

Also Read:- Best Books for Ethics UPSC: Which Book is Good for Ethics Integrity and Aptitude?

Why Should You choose Philosophy as an Optional Subject?

The key to getting a good rank in the UPSC examination is to make informed and sound decisions about the subject, philosophy optional books, What should be the timetable, how should you start. The type of decisions you make the type of result that you yield. Hence, it is said that you should make decisions that are best according to you. Talking about making a decision then one of the main decisions that you have to make is what optional subject you should choose for the main paper. You should choose the optional subject with utmost clarity. Choosing an optional subject is solely on you, hence it is suggested that the individual should take this decision after keeping in mind all the advantages that you can manoeuvre after taking a specific optional subject. Choosing Philosophy as an optional subject bring some benefits to you, catch those benefits below:-

1. Need Less time for Preparation

You can prepare Philosophy in a very short time as compared to other optional subjects. It is much easier to grasp conceptual knowledge about philosophy which saves your time. Time is

what matters the most in your UPSC examination preparation.

2. Do not Need Prior Educational Knowledge

For Philosophy a Student may not require a prior philosophy educational background So, philosophy is like the basic subject, it is the basis of any discipline, and thus no previous knowledge of the subject is required. If you don’t want to take up your graduation subject as an optional subject, then you don’t have to worry about it as the philosophy subject is the saviour for all.

3. Not so Vast Syllabus

In comparison to other optional subjects in choice, philosophy has one-third of their syllabus. You will be glad to know that you can finish the syllabus before a stipulated time. Other optional subjects have a very vast syllabus that can burden you more with the learning concepts, but when you take up philosophy as your optional subject, you will experience less burden where you can focus more on important subjects. A candidate can complete the whole syllabus in just 2 months, with this you can time your preparation well and assure yourself a higher chance of good rank.

4. Helpful in Other Subjects as Well

For many other subjects such as ethics and the Essay article, many things you read in philosophy may be beneficial. In the other study papers, you can also use those ideas in philosophy. Stuff like democracy, humanism, philosophy, morality, secularism, the liberation of women, and so on come from the fields of philosophy. The ethical research will prepare applicants to answer the particular essence of the paper on Ethics (GS – IV). You will gain a critical perspective on life and get more wisdom and inventiveness.

Also Read:- UPSC Mains Result 2020 Name List: Check this Out and Gear Up Yourself for the Interview Round

Tips for Philosophy Preparation

With the help of the following tips, you can score better in the optional subject and increase your chances to score  higher in the UPSC examination

1. Check out the Previous Year QuestionPaper

To get more detailed information about the exam pattern of philosophy you should check out the previous year’s question paper. After completing 50% of the syllabus, you can try to solve the question paper and analyze your answers or match them with the ones given on various online portals.

2.Know the Syllabus

Get through with the philosophy syllabus, and make sure that you don’t miss out on anything. Write the syllabus on a piece of paper that you can see every time you start your preparation. Tick the subject that you keep on completing.

3. Linking Concepts

For a better understanding of the philosophy subjects you can link the western concept with the Indian concept and see what combination of learning you can yield

4. Practice Answering

Don’t forget to learn the answers by writing them down. Learning with this method will give you the power to retain the concept for a much longer time period. You have to practice as much as you can and with more practice, you come closer to learning the concepts of philosophy clearly.

Also Read: Ethics Notes for UPSC IAS Exams: Check-out Here


For the upsc preparations, your success will also depend on the types of choices that you make. So while meaning a decision you have to keep in mind the pros and cons and then make your decision accordingly. You can opt for Philosophy as an optional subject as it has many advantages. In this article you will get the list of philosophy books that you can refer to while studying philosophy, you will also get to know why philosophy is a beneficial optional subject for you. Furthermore, you will also get tips to prepare philosophy as your optional subject.

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Philosophy Books for UPSC: Get to Learn from the Best Authors
Looking for the best books to refer to for UPSC Philosophy? Click here and get the list of philosophy books to prepare from the best knowledge source for the UPSC examination.
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