Reflexivity, Subjectivity, and the Constructed Self: A Buddhist Model

Asian Philosophy 25 (3):275-292 (2015)
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Abstract

The aim of this article is to take up three closely connected questions. First, does consciousness essentially involve subjectivity? Second, what is the connection, if any, between pre-reflective self-consciousness and subjectivity? And, third, does consciousness necessarily involve an ego or self? I will draw on the Yogācāra–Madhyamaka synthesis of Śāntarakṣita to develop an account of the relation between consciousness, subjectivity, and the self. I will argue, first, that phenomenal consciousness is reflexive or self-illuminating. Second, I will argue that consciousness necessarily involves minimal subjectivity. Third, I will argue that neither the reflexivity nor the subjectivity of consciousness implies that there is any entity such as the self or ego over and above reflexive consciousness. Fourth, I will argue that what we normally think of as ‘the self’ is best understood as a complex, multi-layered process that emerges within the pre..

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