XAT 2018 Question Paper


Please read the passage below and answer the questions that follow:

If history doesn’t follow any stable rules, and if we cannot predict its future course, why study it? It often seems that the chief aim of science is to predict the future - meteorologists are expected to forecast whether tomorrow will bring rain or sunshine; economists should know whether devaluing the currency will avert or precipitate an economic crisis; good doctors foresee whether chemotherapy or radiation therapy will be more successful in curing lung cancer. Similarly, historians are asked to examine the actions of our ancestors so that we can repeat their wise decisions and avoid their mistakes. But it never works like that because the present is just too different from the past. It is a wast of time to study Hannibal’s tactics in the Second Punic War so as to copy them in the Third World War. What worked well in cavalry battles will not necessarily be of much benefit in cyber warfare. Science is not just about predicting the future, though. Scholars in all fields often seek to broaden our horizons, thereby opening before us new and unknown futures. This is especially true of history. Though historians occasionally try their hand at prophecy (without notable success), the study of history aims above all to make us aware of possibilities we don’t normally consider. Historians study the past not in order to repeat it, but in order to be liberated from it. Each and every one of us has been born into a given historical reality, ruled by particular norms and values, and managed by a unique economic and political system. We take this reality for granted, thinking it is natural, inevitable and immutable. We forget that our world was created by an accidental chain of events, and that history shaped not only our technology, politics and society, but also our thoughts, fears and dreams. The cold hand of the past emerges from the grave of our ancestors, grips us by the neck and directs our gaze towards a single future. We have felt that grip from the moment we were born, so we assume that it is a natural and inescapable part of who we are. Therefore we seldom try to shake ourselves free, and envision alternative futures. Studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past. It enables us to turn our head this way and that, and begin to notice possibilities that our ancestors could not imagine, or didn’t want us to imagine. By observing the accidental chain of events that led us here, we realise how our very thoughts and dreams took shape - and we can begin to think and dream differently. Studying history will not tell us what to choose, but at least it gives us more options.

Question 1

Based on the passage, which of the following options would be the most appropriate for citizens to learn history?

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Question 2

Which of the following options is the closest to the essence of the passage?

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Question 3

Read the following sentences:
1. A historian successfully predicted a political crisis based on similar events of the last century.
2. Using the latest technology, doctors could decipher the microbe causing the disease.
3. Students who prepared for an examination by perusing past 10 years' question papers did not do well in the examination.
4. A tribe in Andaman learns to predict epidemic outbreaks by listening to the stories of how their ancestors predicted the past outbreaks.
Which of the statement(s) above, if true would contradict the view of the author?

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Please read the passage below and answer the questions that follow:

Rene Descartes’ assertion that ideas may be held true with certainty if they are “clear and distinct” provides the context for Peirce’s title, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear.” Peirce argued that an idea may seem clear if it is familiar. Distinctness depends on having good definitions, and while definitions are desirable they do not yield any new knowledge or certainty of the truth of empirical propositions. Peirce argues that thought needs more than a sense of clarity; it also needs a method for making ideas clear. Once we have made an idea clear, then we can begin the task of determining its truth. The method that Peirce offers came to be known as the pragmatic method and the epistemology on which it depends is pragmatism. Peirce rejected Descartes’ method of doubt. We cannot doubt something, for the sake of method, that we do not doubt in fact. In a later essay, he would state as his rule “Dismiss make-believes.” This refers to Descartes’ method of doubting things, in the safety of his study, such things as the existence of the material world, which he did not doubt when he went out on the street. Peirce proposed that a philosophical investigation can begin from only one state of mind, namely, the state of mind in which we find ourselves when we begin. If any of us examines our state of mind, we find two kinds of thoughts: beliefs and doubts. Peirce had presented the interaction of doubt and belief in an earlier essay “The Fixation of Belief”.

Beliefs and doubts are distinct. Beliefs consist of states of mind in which we would make a statement; doubts are states in which we would ask a question. We experience a doubt as a sense of uneasiness and hesitation. Doubt serves as an irritant that causes us to appease it by answering a question and thereby fixing a belief and putting the mind to rest on that issue. A common example of a doubt would be arriving in an unfamiliar city and not being sure of the location of our destination address in relation to our present location. We overcome this doubt and fix a belief by getting the directions. Once we achieve a belief, we can take the necessary action to reach our destination. Peirce defines a belief subjectively as something of which we are aware and which appeases the doubt. Objectively, a belief is a rule of action. The whole purpose of thought consists in overcoming a doubt and attaining a belief. Peirce acknowledges that some people like to think about things or argue about them without caring to find a true belief, but he asserts that such dilettantism does not constitute thought. The beliefs that we hold determine how we will act. If we believe, rightly or wrongly, that the building that we are trying to reach sits one block to our north, we will walk in that direction. We have beliefs about matters of fact, near and far. For example, we believe in the real objects in front of us and we believe generally accepted historical statements. We also believe in relations of ideas such as that seven and five equal twelve. In addition to these we have many beliefs about science, politics, economics, religion and so on. Some of our beliefs may be false since we are capable of error. To believe something means to think that it is true.

Question 4

According to Peirce, for a particular thought, which of the following statements will be correct?

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Question 5

"A candidate has applied for XAT". According to Peirce, it indicates that:

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Question 6

Which of the following words is the closest in meaning to "dilettantism"?

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Question 7

A person thinks that s/he has to keep awake for twenty hours in a day to score well in an examination, but is awake for only fifteen hours.
For the above statement, which of the following options will be right, according to Peirce?

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Please read the passage below and answer the questions that follow:

It is sometimes said that consciousness is a mystery in the sense that we have no idea what it is. This is clearly not true. What could be better known to us than our own feelings and experiences? The mystery of consciousness is not what consciousness is, but why it is.

Modern brain imaging techniques have provided us with a rich body of correlations between physical processes in the brain and the experiences had by the person whose brain it is. We know, for example, that a person undergoing stimulation in her or his ventromedial hypothalamus feels hunger. The problem is that no one knows why these correlations hold. It seems perfectly conceivable that ventromedial hypothalamus stimulation could do its job in the brain without giving rise to any kind of feeling at all. No one has even the beginnings of an explanation of why some physical systems, such as the human brain, have experiences. This is the difficulty David Chalmers famously called ‘the hard problem of consciousness’.

Materialists hope that we will one day be able to explain consciousness in purely physical terms. But this project now has a long history of failure. The problem with materialist approaches to the hard problem is that they always end up avoiding the issue by redefining what we mean by ‘consciousness’. They start off by declaring that they are going to solve the hard problem, to explain experience; but somewhere along the way they start using the word ‘consciousness’ to refer not to experience but to some complex behavioural functioning associated with experience, such as the ability of a person to monitor their internal states or to process information about the environment. Explaining complex behaviours is an important scientific endeavour. But the hard problem of consciousness cannot be solved by changing the subject.

In spite of these difficulties, many scientists and philosophers maintain optimism that materialism will prevail. At every point in this glorious history, it is claimed, philosophers have declared that certain phenomena are too special to be explained by physical science - light, chemistry, life - only to be subsequently proven wrong by the relentless march of scientific progress.

Before Galileo it was generally assumed that matter had sensory qualities: tomatoes were red, paprika was spicy, flowers were sweet smelling. How could an equation capture the taste of spicy paprika? And if sensory qualities can’t be captured in a mathematical vocabulary, it seemed to follow that a mathematical vocabulary could never capture the complete nature of matter. Galileo’s solution was to strip matter of its sensory qualities and put them in the soul (as we might put it, in the mind). The sweet smell isn’t really in the flowers, but in the soul (mind) of the person smelling them … Even colours for Galileo aren’t on the surfaces of the objects themselves, but in the soul of the person observing them. And if matter in itself has no sensory qualities, then it’s possible in principle to describe the material world in the purely quantitative vocabulary of mathematics. This was the birth of mathematical physics.

But of course Galileo didn’t deny the existence of the sensory qualities. If Galileo were to time travel to the present day and be told that scientific materialists are having a problem explaining consciousness in purely physical terms, he would no doubt reply, “Of course they do, I created physical science by taking consciousness out of the physical world!”

Question 8

Which of the following statements captures the essence of the passage?

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Question 9

Which of the following options would most likely be an example of the hard problem?

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Question 10

Which of the following statements can be inferred from the passage?

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