No-Self and the Phenomenology of Ownership
Dr Monima Chadha (Monash University)

May 24, 2016, 4:00pm - 5:30pm
European Philosophy and the History of Ideas Research Group (EPHI), Deakin University

C2.05
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood 3125
Australia

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Deakin University

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Abhidharma-Buddhist philosophers put forward a revisionary metaphysics which lacks a “self” in order to provide an intellectually and morally preferred picture of the world. I argue for a strong reading of the no-self view as a variety of no-subject or no-ownership view. The Buddhists are not just denying the diachronically unified and extended self but also minimal selfhood insofar as it associated with a sense of ownership and agency. The view is deeply counterintuitive and the Buddhists are acutely aware of this fact. Accordingly, the Abhidharma-Buddhist writings and contemporary reconstructions of the view are replete with attempts to explain the phenomenology of experience in a no-self world. The paper defends the no-ownership view using resources from contemporary discussions about sense (or lack thereof) of ownership.


Monima Chadha is currently Head of Philosophy and Graduate coordinator of the Philosophy Program at Monash University, Australia. Her principal research area is the cross-cultural philosophy of mind, specifically the Classical Indian and Contemporary Western Philosophy of mind. Over the last few years, she has been at the forefront of research to integrate insights on mind, consciousness and the self from across these philosophical traditions and the cognitive neurosciences. The aim of this research is to create a cohesively universal philosophical framework to understand these entities and also to enrich each of these traditions by leveraging insights from the other. This work has regularly featured in leading academic journals like Philosophy East and West; Asian Philosophy; Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences; and Consciousness and Cognition. Currently she is writing a book on the philosophical evolution of mind in Buddhism and its centrality to the doctrine in the absence of self. In 2013, she was awarded the Contemplative Studies Fellowship by the Mind and Life Institute and Templeton Foundation, USA.

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