John Krummel
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
This paper considers the controversy surrounding the Buddhist doctrine of “no-self” (anattā, anātman), and especially the question of whether the Buddha himself meant by it unequivocally the ontological denial of the self. The emergence of this doctrine is connected with the Buddha’s attempt to forge a “middle way” that avoids the extreme views of “eternalism” in regards to the soul and “annihilationism” of the soul at bodily death. By looking at the earliest works of the Pāli canon, three of the five Nikāyas (Dīgha, Majjhima, and Sayutta) along with later Abhidharmist developments, my discussion shows that its original intent was not explicitly ontological. The intent was more practical than theoretical, with the aim of bringing about a freedom from attachment to such theories as eternalism and annihilationism. The Buddha’s “middle” position was, hence, a praxis towards freedom rather than a theoria about the existence or non-existence of the self
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq200545444
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