Comparative Philosophy 12 (2) (2021)

Antoine Panaïoti
Ryerson University
This paper seeks to lay down the theoretical groundwork for the emergence of holistic cross-cultural philosophical investigations of personal identity ¾ investigations that approach the theoretical, phenomenological, psychological, and practical-ethical dimensions of selfhood as indissociable. My strategy is to discuss three closely connected conceptual distinctions that the Buddhist approach to personal identity urges us to draw, and a lucid understanding of which is essential for the emergence of appropriately comprehensive and thus genuinely cosmopolitan discussions at the cross-road between Western and Buddhist philosophical traditions. The first, primary distinction is that between the “visceral sense of self” and the “substance view of self”. This in turn gives rise to two derivative distinctions, namely between “harbouring VSS” and “believing SVS”, and between “overcoming VSS” and “rejecting SVS”. After discussing these distinctions, I consider and respond to three philosophical objections to features of Buddhist approach to selfhood that are thrown into sharper relief when attention is paid to these three distinctions. I then discuss some of the ways the foregoing may inform research in cross-cultural philosophy of personal identity. This discussion focuses on: the primacy of the first-person stance in matters of personal identity; the relationship between numerical identity and narrative identity; interdisciplinarity in the study of selfhood; and personal identity and egoism.
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