Nirvana and Ownerless Consciousness
Buddhists maintain that the enlightened person is freed from the illusion of ‘self’ with its ideas of ‘me’ and ‘mine’. What notion of self is at stake here? What must be the case, with regard to the self and consciousness, for nirvana to be psychologically possible? Is the picture that emerges a plausible one in the philosophy of mind? Part One outlines the notion of self under consideration in the Pali Buddhist sutras. Part Two argues that in Pali Buddhism the self illusion has two tiers: a tier of non-illusory ownerless consciousness, and a tier of content that yields a personalized identity in the world. It is the latter, not the former, that makes the self illusory. Arguments against the alternative ‘bundle theory’ interpretation of no-self in Buddhism are also presented. Part Three gives independent evidence to suggest that the everyday mind is structured by a two-tiered illusion of self.
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