Presence of Mind: Consciousness and the Sense of Self

In Manidipa Sen (ed.), Problem of the Self: Consciousness, Subjectivity, and the Other. New Delhi, India: Aatar Books. pp. 46–64 (2019)
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Abstract
It is generally agreed that consciousness is a somewhat slippery term. However, more narrowly defined as 'phenomenal consciousness' it captures at least three essential features or aspects: subjective experience (the notion that what we are primarily conscious of are experiences), subjective knowledge (that feature of our awareness that gives consciousness its distinctive reflexive character), and phenomenal contrast (the phenomenality of awareness, absence of which makes consciousness intractable) (cf. Siewert 1998). If Buddhist accounts of consciousness are built, as it is claimed, on phenomenological (thus descriptive) rather than metaphysical grounds, the obvious question arises: is there such a place or locus for conscious experience? And if there is, does it have the sort of character that is amenable to phenomenological analysis? A positive answer would suggest that conscious experience is such that at a minimum, the 'sense of self' must be an ineliminable structural feature of cognitive awareness. This paper pursues the question of precisely what conception of self-consciousness can be supported on experiential grounds given the Buddhist no-self view, and whether such conception is sufficient to account for the ineliminable features of phenomenal consciousness.
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First archival date: 2019-09-24
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