Self-Awareness without a Self: Buddhism and the Reflexivity of Awareness

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Abstract:

In this paper, I show that a robust, reflexivist account of self-awareness (such as was defended by Dignaga and Dharmakīrti, most phenomenologists, and others) is compatible with reductionist view of persons, and hence with a rejection of the existence of a substantial, separate self. My main focus is on the tension between Buddhist reflexivism and the central Buddhist doctrine of no-self. In the first section of the paper, I give a brief sketch of reflexivist accounts of self-awareness, using the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti as my example. In the next section, I examine reductionism as it relates to accounts of the self. I then, in the third section, argue that a reductionist account of persons can account for the unique features of first-person contents and our deep and multi-layered sense of self.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09552360802440025

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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