The Self: What Isn’t It?

The Self: What Isn’t It?


In this presentation, Jay Garfield will describe the range of positions in Western and in Buddhist philosophy regarding the self and the person, what motivates each, and what problems each view confronts. They will look briefly at the substantialist views of self against which most Buddhist and contemporary Western views are developed. They will distinguish questions about synchronic and diachronic unity and identity, and distinguish between a conventional person and an intrinsically real self. They will consider reductionist, supervenience, bundle and sequential models of selfhood before turning to narrative and socially constructive models of the self and no-self in both traditions. They will conclude with some observations about the ethical implications of self-grasping and of selflessness. 

  • Dialogue 30
    19 sessions
  • December 16, 2015
    Sera Monastery, Bylakuppe, India
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Jay Garfield

Jay Garfield, PhD, is Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Humanities and Head of Studies in Philosophy at Yale-NUS College, Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Smith College, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies. He studies the philosophy of mind and foundations of cognitive science, Buddhist philosophy, 19th and 20th Century In dian philosophy, hermeneutics, ethics, logic and developmental psycholinguistics. He is author or editor of over 20 books and over 100 scholarly articles. Jay's most recent books are Moonpaths: Ethics and Emptiness (with the Cowherds); The Moon Points Back: Buddhism, Logic and Analytic Philosophy (with the Koji Tanaka, Graham Priest and Yasuo Deguchi); Madhyamaka and Yogācāra: Allies or Rivals (with Jan Westerhoff); and Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy.