Do You Have a Self? Essay

Do You Have a Self? Essay

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In this paper, I will look at the no-self view Nagasena argues for, and question its demand for a permanent self. I will argue that the self exists because it is created, that the self does exist from its point of creation. I will then attempt to justify my argument’s premise as they help to resolve the contention that the self’s memory and history, which Nagasena does not account for, are what defines the self.

In The Questions of King Milinda, Nagasena argues that the self does not exist. Using the analogy of the chariot, he argues:
1) The chariot is not its pole, its axle, its wheels or any other of its constituent parts only.
2) The chariot is not anything outside its constituent parts.
3) The chariot is not all of its constituent parts.
Therefore, the chariot does not exist.
Rather, the name “chariot” is only a “generally understood term” for something that has all the constituent parts of the chariot put together. Names of composite things are merely empty sounds that exist as ideas, and are used to refer to the collection of its constituent parts when they put together in reality.

In relation to the self, the names we assign to the self would then have “no permanent individuality implied in [the] name,” because the there is no fixed collection of constituent parts that would form the same self. The constituent parts of the self are continuously changing, and hence, the name we use to refer to a self does not refer to the same combination and arrangement of a particular group of constituent parts through time. That is why he believes that “there is no permanent individuality involved in the matter,” where the matter refers to his name, “Nagasena” and the self to which the name refers to. As such, the name we use to re...


... middle of paper ...


...the previous. Because he requires the self to have permanent individuality, the self does not exist. If we remove that requirement, the self can then exist. However, basing the existence of the self on memory and history gives rise to the contentions. To answer these contentions, I thus propose to relate the self to its creation in time as permanent factor. This relation does not limit the existence of the self to require all its constituent parts to remain permanent, so the changes the self undergoes can be considered part of it, but at the same time have a permanent property, which is the point in time it was created.



Works Cited

'Maverick Philosopher: Can the chariot take us to the land of no self?'. N.p. 18 Mac 2011. Web. 22 Nov. 2013. .

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