I apologise for the time I have taken in writing this and for having kept you all waiting all this while. How I prepared for philosophy is what many have asked me and some continue to be curious about.
To start with selection of subject I would say it was purely out of interest. Even during my B.Tech course I used to study lot of diversified stuff. So it was natural choice. Yes, it has some advantages also.
As far as preparing for exam let me tell you, before I list out my sources and ways, that all I did was – try to understand what is being said by a philosopher, in quite the GE Moore style – (‘What does he really mean? ‘) . And to get this clarity I read extensively but to crystallize things in my head I chose one primary source and went back to it over and over again.
( Note : while I read the primary source multiple times, over and over, I also referred to other books from time to time for better clarity and sometimes they too required multiple readings.)
But I guess I read so much bcoz of my genuine interest in the subject and initially not taking classes , this however I would not advise : ) . Any form of guidance definitely helps besides saving lot of time in searching and hit & miss trial method.
Indian philosophy –
1.Primary source – CD Sharma
2.Referrence – Mitra and patanjali notes ( both classnotes and printed),
3.Radhakrishnan’s two volumes on Indian philosophy.
- I never read Dutta and Chatterjee, but I happened to glance at it a few days ago and seemed to be a good one. If I were writing again I would definitely go through it…I would infact go through it anyway
Western philosophy –
- Primary source – nptel lectures, y masih, ignou material and printouts from DM Dutta’s book for contemporary philosophy,
- Referrence – Donald Palmer, Mitra and patanjali notes, stanford encyclopedia, SparkNotes, Wikipedia, random YouTube videos
Philosophy of religion
- Primary source- Mitra and Patanjali notes
- Referrence – John hick, Y masih
Socio political philosophy
Primary source – Mitra notes, OP Gauba, Rajeev Bhargawa
I had in my first two attempts written tests for vision, as Mitra and patanjali were not offering online support back then. This year Mitra’s ias offered online test series which included some classes also and I joined them.
In my earlier attempts my score in paper 1 had been 116 & 150. while in paper 2 it was 127 & 100 . But in this attempt my score has been 306 – 151 & 155paper 1 & paper 2 respectively.
This time I wrote answers like Mitra sir had asked us to. In paper 1, I tried to cover all major themes of a philosopher while at the same time making it look relevant to the question, mention criticisms and conclude with a comparison ending on a positive tone highlighting the philosopher’s or the theory’s (in question) significance.
For paper 2, I can tell what does not work with absolute surety. My second attempt fetched less marks bcoz I tried to put in philosophers irrespective of whether it was relevant or not. I had put almost everything I read in Bhargawa and in John hick there. This didn’t work. This time, I learnt to think and attempt more freely irrespective of any philosopher ( as often adviced by mitra sir ) and this seems to have worked.
Since, adequate writing practice is a sine qua non for good scores, I recommend that answers be written daily. I was writing mocks for Mitra’s, practicing alongside on iasbaba and also sincerely sat through and wrote live answer writing sessions (LAWS) at Mitra’s for a thorough revision. His feedback, I have to say helped me improve my paper 2 scores else I would be experimenting even now. I think candidates should practice LAWS, may be at their own, even for GS.
In addition to this, for quick revisions, I made very crisp and brief notes containing major terms and central ideas for all the philosophers ( mostly only the key words in the form of a chart). This I referred to before writing any mock and also before the final exam.
This pretty much is everything I did in the last 3 years while studying philosophy. My approach was to gain more and more clarity, if time permitted and then work on solidifying the content I had, into sensible answers.
Hope this helps.