By M. Albahari
We spend our lives holding an elusive self - yet does the self really exist? Drawing on literature from Western philosophy, neuroscience and Buddhism (interpreted), the writer argues that there's no self. The self - as unified proprietor and philosopher of techniques - is an phantasm created through levels. A tier of obviously unified attention (notably absent in common bundle-theory money owed) merges with a tier of desire-driven innovations and feelings to yield the influence of a self. So whereas the self, if actual, could imagine up the concepts, the options, in fact, imagine up the self.
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Additional info for Analytical Buddhism: The Two-tiered Illusion of Self
The notion thus captures something more cognitive (as opposed to perceptual); a subjective or conscious impression of some sort. This notion of ‘sense’ is moreover not a success-term: to have a sense of X does not imply that X exists. For example, if one has a sense – or conscious impression – of danger, then there need not be danger that is sensed. This notion of sense, as a conscious impression, will thus apply well to the self whose existence may be under question. As a kind of ‘a definite but often vague awareness or impression’, the term ‘sense’ as applied to ‘self’ has a further advantage.
1 (The exception will be when I make explicit appeal to a point raised by Thanissaro Bhikkhu). These suttas will sometimes be abridged; I cite only those parts of each sutta that are relevant to the enquiry. Aside from engaging with a brief commentary that represents a mainstream objection to my reading (by Venerable Nyanaponika Ther¯a and Bhikkhu Bodhi), my interpretation as it stands will not rely heavily on secondary sources; I am interested in extracting a picture of nibb¯ana that is based on the suttas themselves.
The reason for allocating the word ‘sense’ as primary is that the turn of phrase ‘sense of self’ is already in vogue and, while lacking ideal precision, it captures the general gist very well. What, then, do we mean by ‘sense’ in this context? Let us distinguish it first from that associated with the five sensory organs, as put by the MerriamWebster OnLine Dictionary (2006): ‘specialized animal function or mechanism (as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch) basically involving a stimulus and a sense organ’.