The Who and the How of Experience

Joel W. Krueger

in Self, No Self?

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593804
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595691 | DOI:
The Who and the How of Experience

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This chapter argues for the counter-intuitive thesis that consciousness does not require a self. Granted, a central feature of conscious states is that their mode of appearance exhibits an irreducibly first-personal nature, and this ‘how’ of consciousness is what secures its phenomenal character. It seems natural to assume that this ‘how’ points back to a ‘who’. This chapter argues, however, that just because the subjective character of consciousness gives rise to a sense of self—that is, the felt sense of being a stable who, or owner of conscious episodes—it does not follow that this who really exists. It examines the notion of a ‘minimal self’ developed by Zahavi and others, as well as a Buddhist conception of selfless subjectivity, and then argues that the phenomenal character of consciousness, which the minimal self-model is supposed to capture, does not require the existence of a stable, permanent, or unconditioned self.

Keywords: consciousness; self; subjectivity; self-consciousness; minimal self; narrative self; no-self; Buddhism; DharmakĪrti

Chapter.  11471 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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