Insight Knowledge of No Self in Buddhism: An Epistemic Analysis

Philosophers' Imprint 14 (2014)
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Imagine a character, Mary Analogue, who has a complete theoretical knowledge of her subject matter: the illusory nature of self. Suppose that when presenting her paper on no self at a conference she suffers stage-fright – a reaction that implies she is under an illusion of the very self whose existence she denies. Might there be something defective about her knowledge of no self? The Buddhist tradition would claim that Mary Analogue, despite her theoretical omniscience, lacks deep ‘insight knowledge’ into the reality of no self. The only way for her to gain insight, and thereby improve her epistemic status, would be to divest her mind of the self-illusion. In this paper, I offer an analysis of what could be epistemically involved in the process of acquiring such insight knowledge whereby one becomes, in Buddhist parlance, ‘awakened’

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Miri Albahari
University of Western Australia


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