In this article, we have covered strategy of Philosophical Essay for UPSC.
Essay writing itself is a daunting task for many aspirants. Though the one section is somewhat easy to handle, which has topics from social, political, environmental and economic aspects; but when it comes to philosophical topics, it is a herculean task to write an essay on this.
A philosophical essay for UPSC is not about flowery language, story-telling techniques, or surprising the examiner. The art of a philosophical essay is found in your orderly fashioned ideas; the language that you use is only a potent weapon for conveying these ideas to the examiner. The subtle art is in proving one’s views in a crystal clear manner.
There are various challenges which are attached to it, and how to handle the philosophical topic in ‘effective’ and ‘safely’. We are going to discuss in our coming talks. I purposefully called ‘safely’ because the ground is so slippery, slight deviation or flow of emotion, may put you in great trouble.
Selection of topic
Any good essay will definitely have a plethora of elements and dimensions to it. For essay writing, there are obviously several basic rules that one should follow while searching for these elements and dimensions. First and foremost thing is selection of the topic, especially in philosophical one.
If you are not very well versed with a selected topic, ideas will be exhausted in 2-3 pages, and you will end in repetition of ideas. So choose that topic where you can express yourself in 10-12 pages.
Decoding the topic
Another important aspect is deciphering the topic i.e. decoding the topic. Ethics GS paper comes out as savior here helps you to outline basic points i.e. periphery of the essay and before writing the essay, it is best to outline it.
To outline an essay means to figure out what to say in the introduction/conclusion, which idea comes where, or even what quote to use for the essay etc. It is said that once we can figure out the conclusion to our essay, it becomes much easier to not only begin but finish it with confidence .
For example, in this 2019 essay topic, “Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success”. One must have a clear understanding of courage, dedication and success. Courage and dedication etc. are exhaustively explained in the Ethics papers, one need to use definition and attached features to it.
Defining the key terms and interlinking them with each other will open dimensions for essay. In addition to that, quotes , examples, reports and anecdotes immensely help to make philosophical essays interesting. Otherwise merely writing philosophical ideas makes essays boring.
PESTLEE dimensions Approach
Moreover various examples from the public sphere support your argument in the most effective manner. One should proceed with PESTLEE dimensions Approach (Political – Economic – Sociological – Technological – Legal – Environmental –Ethics Analysis).And one should be very-very cautions regarding his ideological leaning while discussing these dimensions. Your ideology should not be reflected in the essay, content should be written in a more rational manner.
Here, the first of such rules would be to follow and uphold Constitutional values throughout your essay. This is quite crucial for a philosophical essay that the values enshrined in our Constitution reflect in whatever idea, problem or solution we discuss in the essay. At no point should one try and support an idea that is unconstitutional, it can be extra constitutional but not unconstitutional.
Ideological leaning may do wonder if it matches with examiner ideology or thinking process, it can damage to a larger extent if it differs .So ideological balancing is indispensable. One must also be democratic while addressing issues. The concepts of ‘freedom and equality’ should be the guiding principles while suggesting solutions and while criticizing events or issues.
Generally, one should avoid taking absolutist/non-compromising positions. In fact, the best way to handle complex problems is to find the middle ground. One must also try not to make sweeping generalizations on any given issue. Instead, there should be hints of patience, justice and understanding in addressing or discussing any given topic.
Lastly, there are two more things that one needs to keep in mind while attempting the CSE essay. (A) Do not question the topic itself, which is to say, in other words, do not contradict yourself. Pick a position (ideally, the middle path) and stay true to this throughout the essay. (B) Never use positively, things that are universally considered or used in a negative sense, and vice-versa. For example , one must not say that ‘terrorism’ under certain conditions is equivalent to a freedom struggle, even though quotes like ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ are quite common.
In a nutshell, it is suggested that ethics paper should be prepared comprehensively, which would help philosophical essays in terms of brainstorming. . And one must follow a ‘cyclic return’ approach for strong introduction and conclusion .i.e. conclude ideas with introductory ideas . It is important to note that a strong finish is as important as a strong opening. Both are important for scoring better marks along with adequate amount of brainstorming .