Self and Subjectivity: A Middle Way Approach

Georges Dreyfus

in Self, No Self?

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593804
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595691 | DOI:
Self and Subjectivity: A Middle Way Approach

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This chapter uses insights of the Yogācāra Buddhist tradition to explore some questions concerning consciousness. It is first argued that the Yogācāra view of consciousness provides a middle ground between the extremes of eliminativism and Cartesianism. It is then shown that the Yogācāra view, which emphasizes the close link between the phenomenal aspect of consciousness and reflexivity, is compatible with the no-self position that is at the heart of Buddhist philosophy. The argument rests on the distinction between subjectivity, which for the Yogācāra is connected to the reflexivity intrinsic to each momentary consciousness, and a reified sense of identity. The chapter connects this momentary sense of being oneself with some ideas espoused recently by Damasio. It then concludes by using the Yogācāra idea of a basic consciousness to flesh out a notion of subjectivity that explains some of the features of our first-person perspective without positing a stable self-entity.

Keywords: Indian philosophy; Buddhist philosophy; Buddhist epistemology; Buddhist views of the mind; consciousness; experience; subjectivity; selfhood; embodiment; self-awareness

Chapter.  18314 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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