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Self, No Self?Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological, and Indian Traditions$
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Mark Siderits, Evan Thompson, and Dan Zahavi

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199593804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199593804.001.0001

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The Who and the How of Experience

The Who and the How of Experience

(p.27) 1 The Who and the How of Experience
Self, No Self?

Joel W. Krueger

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues for the counter-intuitive thesis that consciousness does not require a self. Granted, a central feature of conscious states is that their mode of appearance exhibits an irreducibly first-personal nature, and this ‘how’ of consciousness is what secures its phenomenal character. It seems natural to assume that this ‘how’ points back to a ‘who’. This chapter argues, however, that just because the subjective character of consciousness gives rise to a sense of self—that is, the felt sense of being a stable who, or owner of conscious episodes—it does not follow that this who really exists. It examines the notion of a ‘minimal self’ developed by Zahavi and others, as well as a Buddhist conception of selfless subjectivity, and then argues that the phenomenal character of consciousness, which the minimal self-model is supposed to capture, does not require the existence of a stable, permanent, or unconditioned self.

Keywords:   consciousness, self, subjectivity, self-consciousness, minimal self, narrative self, no-self, Buddhism, DharmakĪrti

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