Consciousness, Naturalism, and Human Flourishing

In Bongrae Seok (ed.), Naturalism, Human Flourishing, and Asian Philosophy. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 113–130 (2020)
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This chapter pursues the question of naturalism in the context of non-Western philosophical contributions to ethics and philosophy of mind: First, what conception of naturalism, if any, is best suited to capture the scope of Buddhist Reductionism? Second, can such a conception still accommodate the distinctive features of phenomenal consciousness (e.g., subjectivity, intentionality, first-person givenness, etc.). The first section reviews dominant conceptions of naturalism, and their applicability to the Buddhist project. In the second section, the author provides an example of problematic issues more stringent conceptions of naturalism under the guise of neurophysicalism confront, and evaluate Flanagan’s response to these issues. The third section considers briefly the reflexivity thesis (the thesis that consciousness consists in conscious mental states being implicitly self-aware), specifically as articulated by Dignaga, Dharmakirti and their followers, and uses this thesis to articulate a conception of minimal agency as mineness that, the author argues, further challenges Flanagan’s neurophysicalism stance and his compatibilist account of moral agency. The paper concludes, in the fourth section, by suggesting a way in which no-ownership conceptions of reflexive self-consciousness can help us both to get the structure of phenomenal consciousness right and to ground our conceptions of agency, intentionality, and moral responsibility.

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Christian Coseru
College of Charleston


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