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Does reflection on the phenomenon of I-consciousness only lead to a reaffirmation that what is closest to us is furthest from our understanding? This enigmatic theme has been addressed in Indian and Western philosophical traditions from various perspectives, with different intents. Why do philosophers disagree while accounting for this phenomenon, although they seem to generally accept the indubitability of I-consciousness? The discussion focuses on the kind of philosophical issues that are raised and how differently these are dealt with. In the process, the reader will be acquainted with various types of analyses from the history of Indian thought, where one comes across many renditions of contrasting views about “Self” as a well as of “No-Self.” The focus is in how these enquiries gradually assume not only epistemological and metaphysical but also important ethico-religious dimensions. Beginning with naturalistic interpretations in the Indian context, it will be outlined why mainstream traditions reject naturalism as an explanatory model.

Keywords: I-consciousness; Indian philosophy; cross-cultural; epistemology; ethics; mind-body problem; naturalism; no-self; physicalism; reductionism; self; soteriology; subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Anindita N. Balslev is a philosopher based in India and Denmark and is the initiator of the forum entitled Cross Cultural Conversation (CCC), Elsdyrvaenget 52, 8270 Hojbjerg, Denmark;, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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