David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (1):75-99 (2010)
In this paper, I take up the problem of the self through bringing together the insights, while correcting some of the shortcomings, of Indo–Tibetan Buddhist and enactivist accounts of the self. I begin with an examination of the Buddhist theory of non-self ( anātman ) and the rigorously reductionist interpretation of this doctrine developed by the Abhidharma school of Buddhism. After discussing some of the fundamental problems for Buddhist reductionism, I turn to the enactive approach to philosophy of mind and cognitive science. I argue that human beings, as dynamic systems, are characterized by a high degree of self-organizing autonomy. Therefore, human beings are not reducible to the more basic mental and physical events that constitute them. I critically examine Francisco Varela’s enactivist account of the self as virtual and his use of Buddhist ideas in support of this view. I argue, in contrast, that while the self is emergent and constructed, it is not merely virtual. Finally I sketch a Buddhist-enactivist account of the self. I argue for a non-reductionist view of the self as an active, embodied, embedded, self-organizing process—what the Buddhists call ‘I’-making ( ahaṃkāra ). This emergent process of self-making is grounded in the fundamentally recursive processes that characterize lived experience: autopoiesis at the biological level, temporalization and self-reference at the level of conscious experience, and conceptual and narrative construction at the level of intersubjectivity. In Buddhist terms, I will develop an account of the self as dependently originated and empty, but nevertheless real.
|Keywords||Buddhism Enaction Self Reductionism Emergence|
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References found in this work BETA
Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson & Eleanor Rosch (1991). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. MIT Press.
Evan Thompson (2007). Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind. Harvard University Press.
Dan Zahavi (2005). Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person Perspective. Cambridge MA: Bradford Book/MIT Press.
Shaun Gallagher (2000). Philosophical Conceptions of the Self. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4 (1):14-21.
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