Enacting the Self: Buddhist and Enactivist Approaches to the Emergence of the Self

Matthew MacKenzie

in Self, No Self?

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593804
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595691 | DOI:
Enacting the Self: Buddhist and Enactivist Approaches to the Emergence of the Self

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This chapter brings together insights drawn from Indo-Tibetan Buddhist and enactivist accounts of the self. It examines the Buddhist theory of non-self and the reductionist formulation developed by Abhidharma Buddhism. After discussing some problems for Buddhist reductionism, it examines enactivism in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It is argued that human beings, being characterized by a high degree of self-organizing autonomy, are not reducible to the mental and physical events that constitute them. Varela's enactivist account of the self as virtual and his use of Buddhist ideas are critically examined. It is argued that, while the self is emergent and constructed, it is not merely virtual. Finally a non-reductionist view of the self as self-organizing process is defended. This is grounded in the recursive processes that characterize lived experience at various levels. In Buddhist terms, this chapter develops an account of the self as empty, but nevertheless real.

Keywords: self; reductionism; Madhyamaka; Abhidharma; autopoiesis; enaction; emergence

Chapter.  13383 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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