Philosophy Books for UPSC – Best Philosophy Optional Books

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Philosophy Books for UPSC are focused on the issues and topics related to the evolution of Philosophy and its influence on 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 ace the philosophy optional, and that’s why you need to make the right selection of Philosophy optional books.

The Philosophy Books for UPSC  are different for each paper of the Philosophy optional subject. The First paper is about the History and Problems of Philosophy and the Second paper deals with Socio-Political Philosophy and the Philosophy of Religion. Here we have covered a list of Philosophy Optional Books that cover these topics comprehensively.

Philosophy Books for UPSC

Philosophy is one of the 48 optional subjects in the UPSC Exam, and candidates who have opted for it as their optional need to have a solid understanding of the topics covered in this subject. The Philosophy optional subject is divided into two papers namely- Paper-1 and Paper-2.

Paper 1 Philosophy Books for UPSC are focused on Western and Indian philosophy. This paper is purely conceptual, and there is no applied part to it. Paper 2 of Philosophy majorly deals with the socio-political philosophy of and philosophy of religion. To cover both papers, you will need to have the right Philosophy Book for UPSC that covers these topics comprehensively.  Optional Booklist.

Philosophy Books for UPSC Paper 1

Paper 1 of the Philosophy optional subject covers Indian Philosophy, Western Philosophy, Existentialism, and topics on thinkers. Following are the Philosophy optional books for paper 1 that would help the candidates to learn about all the topics covered in the paper.

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

Philosophy Optional Booklist for Paper 2

Paper 2 of the philosophy optional is vast and it covers topics like sovereignty, humanism, secularism, caste discrimination, etc. You need the Best Philosophy Books for UPSC to cover the topics from this section. Below we have mentioned some highly recommend Indian Philosophy books to cover this section. These Philosophy optional books cover all the topics from paper 2 and help you to fetch good marks in this paper.

  • 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

Indian Philosophy Books for UPSC

Indian philosophy is a huge part of the philosophy optional paper-1, and questions from this topic will be asked in the IAS Interview round as well. Candidates should choose the best Indian Philosophy Books for UPSC to cover this section. This part majorly focuses on Indian philosophy and shares many concepts that an aspirant must know. Some of the highly recommended books on Indian Philosophy by UPSC Toppers 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

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 need to go through the Philosophy optional syllabus, to gain an understanding of the topics they need to cover and pick the UPSC Books as per their comfort and understanding.
  • Start with the basic books first to strengthen your fundamentals, and then you can jump to the advanced-level books. It will make your preparation easier.
  • 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.
  • Apart from the books, refer to the online materials, and other sources so that you won’t miss any important information.
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