Chapter

Sentience

Jonardon Ganeri

in The Self

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652365
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740718 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199652365.003.0012
Sentience

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Dharmakīrti, Dignāga's very influential successor, expands the discussion with an impressive analysis of nonconceptual perceptual content. This chapter argues that Dharmakīrti's account should be understood as a version of the so‐called relational theory of sentience, not as a sense‐data theory. Dharmakīrti uses the theory to address the binding problem: how are flows of sensation bound into thought about robust objects with determinate identity conditions? The same question for him arises for self‐consciousness: how are flows of reflexive self‐awareness bound into I‐thoughts, thought in which the self features as subject. The key insight is that reflexivity provides a principle by which to “tie” together the subject‐aspects of experiences in the content of self‐conscious states. This is an analogue for self‐consciousness of the role performed for Dharmakīrti by presented spatial location in solving the binding problem, presented spatial location being what ties together the object‐aspects in intentional experience. Dharmakīrti argues nevertheless that binding generates only “quasi‐objects” and “quasi‐subjects”, entities which lack full criteria of identity and for which the question “Is this the same object/subject as before?” cannot be answered.

Keywords: Dharmakīrti; sentience; binding; Clark; Peacocke; nonconceptual content; quasi‐objects; quasi‐subjects

Chapter.  8031 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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