Philosophy Books for UPSC: Best Philosophy Book-list for IAS Mains

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : May 4th, 2022

Philosophy Books for UPSC are focused on the issues and topics related to the evolution of Philosophy, and its influence on the Indian culture. Philosophy has been one of the most popular optional subjects in the UPSC Mains Exam. Due to this, there is a wide range of Philosophy Books for UPSC available in the market. But not all of the books would be the right choice for you to score big in this optional subject. 

We have prepared a Philosophy Optional Booklist that covers some of the best philosophy books of all time. Additionally, we have differentiated the UPSC Philosophy Books topic-wise to help the candidates while choosing.

Philosophy Books for UPSC Paper 1

Paper 1 of the UPSC Philosophy Syllabus focused on western and Indian philosophy. This paper is purely conceptual and there is no applied part in it. Following is the Philosophy Optional Booklist for paper-1 that would help the candidates to learn about all the topics covered in the paper. 

Top Philosophy Books for UPSC

History & Problems of Philosophy

A History of Philosophy by Frank Thilly

Survey of Indian Philosophy by C D Sharma

Indian Philosophy, A Counter Perspective by Dr Daya Krishna 

Indian Philosophy II Volume by Dr S. Radhakrishnan

Existentialism

Existentialism: A Reconstruction by David Cooper

Existentialism Is A Humanism by Jean-Paul

Indian Philosophy, and Western Philosophy 

An Introduction to Indian Philosophy- S Chatterjee

A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy- C Sharma

A History of Philosophy-Frank Thilly

Contemporary Western Philosophy- Dr B.K. Lal

Philosophy Optional Booklist for Paper 2

Paper 2 of the philosophy optional is vast, and you need the Best Philosophy Books for UPSC to cover the topics from this section. Paper-2 majorly deals with the socio-political philosophy of and philosophy of religion. Below we have mentioned some highly recommend Indian Philosophy books to cover this section. These books cover all the topics from paper-2 and help you to fetch good marks in the philosophy optional paper-2

  • A History of Philosophy- Frank Thilly
  • A Critical History of Western Philosophy- Y Masih
  • Contemporary Western Philosophy- Dr B.K. Lal
  • An Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba
  • Introduction to Religious Philosophy By Y Masih
  • Philosophy of Religion by John H. Hick

Best Indian Philosophy Books

Indian philosophy is a huge part of the philosophy optional paper-1, and questions from this topic will be asked in the interview round as well. That is why candidates should choose the best Indian Philosophy Books to cover this section. This part majorly focuses on Indian philosophy and shares many concepts, that a UPSC aspirant must know. Some of the best books on Indian Philosophy are 

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

Philosophy Books for UPSC PDF

Candidates can download the list of all the Philosophy Books for UPSC that we have listed above from the link given below. It will help them to memorize the book names and decide which ones to buy

>> Download Philosophy Optional Booklist PDF

Strategy to Cover Philosophy Books for UPSC

For a highly competitive subject like philosophy, a candidate must come up with a solid strategy to score well. In this case, choosing the right Philosophy Books for UPSC would be a great addition to their preparation. But it is not easy to cover all the books in a limited period of time, and candidates must do it in smart ways. 

  • Candidates should pick the UPSC Books as per their comfort, and understanding.
  • You should not read one topic from multiple books, however, gathering more information on a particular topic would be wise
  • Make short notes while covering the UPSC philosophy books which would make your revision easy.
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UPSC FAQ's about Philosophy Books for UPSC

  • Indian philosophy is a big part of philosophy optional paper-1, and candidates must cover it properly by choosing the Best Indian Philosophy Books. Some of the highly recommended Indian Philosophy Books are

    • An Introduction to Indian Philosophy- S Chatterjee
    • A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy- C Sharma
    • Indian Philosophy, A Counter Perspective by Dr. Daya Krishna 
    • Indian Philosophy II Volume by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
  • Paper 2 of the UPSC philosophy syllabus carries 250 marks, and that is why candidates should try their best to fetch good marks in this paper. Some of the best Philosophy Books for UPSC optional paper-2 are mentioned below.

    • A History of Philosophy-Frank Thilly
    • A Critical History of Western Philosophy- Y Masih
    • Contemporary Western Philosophy- Dr B.K. Lal
    • An Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba
    • Introduction to Religious Philosophy By Y Masih
  • Western philosophy covers the philosophical thinking of the western world, and it is a part of the Paper-1 of the UPSC philosophy syllabus. Following are the Best Philosophy Books for UPSC for western philosophy.

    • A History of Philosophy-Frank Thilly
    • A Critical History of Western Philosophy- Y Masih
    • Contemporary Western Philosophy- Dr B.K. Lal
  • Paper-1 of philosophy optional in UPSC deals with the history and problems of philosophy. A total of 250 marks questions will be asked on this topic. Candidates can follow these Philosophy Books for UPSC we have mentioned below to prepare for this paper.

    • A History of Philosophy by Frank Thilly
    • Survey of Indian Philosophy by C D Sharma
    • Indian Philosophy, A Counter Perspective by Dr. Daya Krishna 
    • An Introduction to Indian Philosophy- S Chatterjee

    Candidates can find additional books above in this post.

  • To choose the best UPSC philosophy books candidates need to take a look at the philosophy syllabus first, and the important topics in it. It will help you to choose what kind of books you need. Go for the reputed publishers, and choose the books that you find easy and comfortable to read. 

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