Identity, Perception, Action and Choice in Contemporary and Traditional "No-Self" Theories
ABSTRACT: The ego is traditionally held to be synonymous with individual identity and autonomy, while the mind is widely held to be a necessary basis of cognition and volition, with responsibility following accordingly. However Buddhist epistemology, existential phenomenology and poststructuralism all hold the notion of an independent, subsisting, self-identical subject to be an illusion. This not only raises problems for our understanding of cognition (if the self is an illusion, then who does the perceiving and who is deluded) and volition (who initiates acts), as well as for the notion of responsibility (in the absence of an independently subsisting subject there appears to be no autonomous agent). For Buddhism, no-self theory raises serious problems for the doctrine of reincarnation (in the absence of a self, who is responsible for failing to overcome desires and attachments; furthermore, who gets reincarnated?). Arguing for such "no-self" theories, the paper attempts to demonstrate how such difficulties can nevertheless be resolved.
The self is traditionally held to be synonymous with individual identity and autonomy, while the mind, which is closely associated therewith, is widely held to be a necessary basis of cognition and volition, and the responsibility following therefrom. However Buddhism, Existential Phenomenology and Postsructuralism all point out that we have neither direct empirical experience of, nor sufficient justification for inferring, the existence of an independently subsisting self.
Buddhists for instance point out that, careful attention to the empirical evidence reveals that all the experiences we have of human subjectivity per se may be characterized in terms of five skandhas or aggregates. These are 1) Form; understood as the Body, including the sense-organs, 2) Feelings and Sensations, 3) Perceptions, 4) Mental Formations (or volitional tendencies) including habits and dispositions etc., and 5) Six Consciousnesses, consisting of the consciousness or awareness of sensations emanating from each of the five senses, plus a consciousness of non-sensory or purely mental experiences. Noting the changing nature of each of these skandhas, they conclude that there is no adequate justification for the common inference that these constantly changing phenomena are changing appearances of a persistent, independently subsisting self or ego.
Nor, as Phenomenologists and others have pointed out, do we experience a mind as such, — which much Western Philosophy regards, if not as synonymous with, then certainly essential to, individual identity and autonomy, — independent of the constantly changing sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts and ideas etc.
The first discovery was made in 1952, in the developing field of virology. Virology is the study of viruses and how they behave. To develop the vaccines for the viruses, researchers infected the HeLa cells with many types of infections, such as measles, mumps, and the infamous poliomyelitis virus, also known as Polio. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose mission is to save lives and protect people’s health security, Polio is a "crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis" (Freeman). Jonas Salk, who was a virologist at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP), used inactivated viruses (virus particles grown in culture and then killed by a form of heat) to create a polio vaccine. Salk drew blood from about two million children, which the NFIP checked for immunization.Through the collection of many HeLa cells and trial and error, the polio vaccine wa...
“In the West, we think of each human life as solid and discrete, beginning at conception and ending at death. The Buddhist view is of waves appearing and disappearing endlessly on a great ocean of life energy. When cause and effect combine in a certain way, a wave arises, appearing...
In The Heart of Understanding, Thich Nhat Hanh’s uses simple but powerful words and real world examples to illustrate the profound Buddhist philosophy from the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, an important representative of Mahayana Buddhist literature. The Mahayana school of Buddhist teachings emphasizes the doctrine of Sunyata- emptiness. The doctrine of emptiness, one of the most important Mahayana innovations, focuses on the relational aspect of existence. Thich Nhat Hanh coins and introduces a new word- interbeing to explain the state of emptiness. This idea of interbeing not only illustrates emptiness well but also provides understanding of other fundamental Buddhist ideas such as No-Self, impermanence and non-duality.
Sixty-five years ago, the US was facing the brunt of one of the most feared epidemics of the 20th century. Polio had been lingering in the region since its discovery in 1894, but was now running full throttle. This was the beginning marker of an era that changed the face of medicine and propelled the U.S. forward as the worldwide leader in not only medicine, but also innovative pediatric medical care. In the early 1950s frightened parents quarantined their families and entire towns were put on lockdown for fear of transmission of the airborne pathogen. The nation scrambled as 58,000 cases swept through taking with them the lives of 3,145.
Polio: An American Story describes a struggle to find a vaccine on polio through several researchers’ lives, and over the course of many years. The second thesis is the struggle between Salk and Sabin, two bitter rivals who had their own vaccine that they believed would cure polio. The author David M. Oshinsky, is describing how difficult it was to find the cure to a horrifying disease, which lasted from the Great Depression until the 1960’s. Oshinsky then writes about how foundations formed as fundraisers, to support polio research. Lastly, the author demonstrates how researchers were forced to back track on multiple occasions, to learn more about polio.
Michalon, Max. “’Selflessness’ in the Service of the Ego: Contributions, Limitations and Dangers of Buddhist Psychology for Western Psychotherapy.” American Journal of Psychotherapy 55.2 (2001): 202-218.
“Egoism, the fear or not near but of distant death… are not, I think, wholly natural or instinctive. They are all strengthened by the beliefs about personal identity which I have been attacking. If we give up these beliefs, they should be weakened” (Parfit, 1971, p. 4.2:14).
Listening as the family spoke to me about what is important in their family I couldn’t help but refer back to Marcus and Conner’s idea of interdependence versus independence. As the family spoke to me on how important it is that the soul reincarnates itself, which is when all bad karma is out of the body, I kept referring to the independent self. But often again when they spoke of theologies and learning constantly from what they take from others around them, I found interdependence. Both selves balance each other out but do not reside on one more than the other. Adhita kept telling me the main goal of being a Hindu is “self-realization or just to be free from any type of suffering or hardship/bad karma,” (You achieve this through reincarnation) you have to acknowledge the simultaneous efforts that take place to achieve this goal. “You can’t just set a high sta...
In his sixth meditation must return to the doubts he raised in his first meditation. In this last section of his sixth meditation he deals mainly with the mind-body problem; and he tries to prove whether material things exist with certainly. In this meditation he develops his Dualist argument; by making a distinction between mind and body; although he also reveals their rather significant relationship.
Poliomyelitis, also known as Polio, is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Most victims to this disease are younger than five years of age; they are more likely to get this disease than any other age group. Out of two hundred people infected with the polio disease one is most likely to result in paralysis. The Polio Virus has decreased greatly since the Polio Vaccine was developed. In 2010 a WHO (World Health Organization) pole reported only 1,352 cases worldwide. Since the Polio Vaccine was developed the U.S has not has a single Polio case since 1979.
Several comments should be made about this choice. First of all, it should be emphasized that the scope of this essay is such as to only be able to examine Buddhism as a philosophic system with psychological implications. Buddhism is, of course, mu...
Buddhism is one of the major world religions with many followers around the world. It is unique in its nature as it is frequently referred to as a ‘spiritual tradition’ (Miller, 2010). Buddhism focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life (Johnston, 2003). Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. This belief in the impermanence of all things underpins the Buddhist interpretation of the world and reality (Maguire, 2001).
Marlow starts out as just as everyman, trying to put some bread on the table. His original plans were setting out to make money, but his journey turns into so much more. His expedition turns into a quest to find and save Kurtz, and to understand the people so many were prejudice against.