An Irrealist Theory of Self

The Harvard Review of Philosophy 12 (1):60-79 (2004)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
It has become a common-place to read the ‘no-self’ theory of the Buddhist philosophers as a reductionist account of persons. In Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit himself seemed to endorse the association, having learned of the Buddhist theory from his colleague at All Souls College, Bimal Krishna Matilal. The Buddha’s denial that there are real selves metaphysically distinct from continuous streams of psycho-physical constituents lends itself, to be sure, to a reductionist interpretation. I believe, nevertheless, that there are good grounds for scepticism, and I think it is time for scholars of Buddhism to be more cautious about the identification than they have been up until now. Different Buddhist schools, not to mention different thinkers within particular schools, have given widely varying philosophical construals of the Buddha’s claim about ‘no-self’, and, while some thinkers and some schools might favor a reductionist reading of the claim, others, I would argue, do not. In this paper, I will examine the theory of persons of one such, the Mādhyamika Buddhist Candrakīrti. Candrakīrti’s interpretation of the “no self” slogan is, I believe, anti-reductionist but irrealist: persons are not reducible to psycho-physical streams, nor are they real existents distinct from the stream. How is it possible for him to say both these things? Let us see.
Categories
(categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
1062-6239
PhilPapers/Archive ID
GANAIT-2
Revision history
Archival date: 2015-10-02
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2011-01-09

Total views
258 ( #15,050 of 45,274 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
48 ( #16,437 of 45,274 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.