In this paper, I argue that results from contemplative neuroscience can help resolve a dispute between Husserl and Gurwitsch regarding whether attention is endogenous or exogenous. The empirical results indicate that attention is endogenous, i.e., that we are subjectively aware — and to a certain extent in control — of the direction of our attention. Thus, there can be no proper account of the phenomenology of attention that does not describe what it is like to attend from the side of the subject. If that is the case, then this result also bears on an important issue at the heart of Buddhist metaphysics: the mereology of the subject or the nature of the self. I will argue that the mereological nihilism inherent in the Abhidhamma tradition is false, and that the notion of “not-self” must be understood in a more nuanced way in light
of these results.

Sean Smith

University of Toronto

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