Is consciousness reflexively self‐aware? A Buddhist analysis

Ratio 31 (4):389-401 (2018)
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This article examines contemporary Buddhist defences of the idea that consciousness is reflexively aware or self-aware. Call this the Self-Awareness Thesis. A version of this thesis was historically defended by Dignāga but rejected by Prāsaṅgika Mādhyamika Buddhists. Prāsaṅgikas historically advanced four main arguments against this thesis. In this paper I consider whether some contemporary defence of the Self-Awareness Thesis can withstand these Prāsaṅgika objections. A problem is that contemporary defenders of the Self-Awareness Thesis have subtly different accounts with different assessment criteria. I start by providing a fourfold taxonomy of these different views and then progressively show how each can withstand Prāsaṅgika objections. And I conclude by giving reasons to think that even some Prāsaṅgikas can accept some version of the Self-Awareness Thesis.

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Bronwyn Finnigan
Australian National University


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