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K. Nizamis 2012, The Mind’s ‘I’ in Meditation: Early Pali Buddhadhamma and Transcendental Phenomenology in Mutual Reflection

K. Nizamis 2012, The Mind’s ‘I’ in Meditation: Early Pali Buddhadhamma and Transcendental Phenomenology in Mutual Reflection

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Published by khriniz
This essay provides a condensed introductory ‘snapshot’ of just a few of the many and profound correlations existing between early (pre-Abhidhamma) Pāli Buddhism and Transcendental Phenomenology, by focusing on what is arguably the most central and essential ‘philosophical problem’ in both traditions: the true nature and significance of the ‘I’ of subjective intentional consciousness. It argues that the Buddhist axiom of ‘not-self’ (anattā) is by no means incompatible with the fundamental phenomenological irreducibility, and necessity, of transcendental subjectivity – or, as Husserl also puts it, of the ‘pure’ or ‘transcendental ‘I’’ – a structure evidently essential to intentional consciousness as ‘consciousness-of’. On the one hand, Husserl recognises (and struggles with) the peculiar ‘emptiness’ of the ‘pure ‘I’’. On the other hand, a fundamental distinction must clearly be drawn between genuine intentional subjectivity – which even Buddhas and Arahants must of necessity possess – and the erroneous bases upon which the concept of ‘self’ (attā) that Buddhism rejects is constituted: the feeling of ‘I am’ (‘asmī’ti), the sense of ‘I am this’ (‘ayam-aham-asmī’ti), and the concept/conceit of ‘I am’ (asmi-māna) – all of which Buddhas and Arahants by definition do not possess. Hence, it is argued that, while the ‘pure I’ does not refer to some permanent ‘entity’ called ‘self’, nor is it merely an empty, non-referring, conventional linguistic marker: it has not merely a ‘use’, but a genuine meaning, which derives from the intrinsic, irreducible, and ‘pre-linguistic’ experiential structure of ‘consciousness-of’ itself. What is more, this meaning is not only recognised and admitted, but actively utilised, within the doctrine and methodology of early Buddhism, without any sense of contradicting the axiom of anattā.
This essay provides a condensed introductory ‘snapshot’ of just a few of the many and profound correlations existing between early (pre-Abhidhamma) Pāli Buddhism and Transcendental Phenomenology, by focusing on what is arguably the most central and essential ‘philosophical problem’ in both traditions: the true nature and significance of the ‘I’ of subjective intentional consciousness. It argues that the Buddhist axiom of ‘not-self’ (anattā) is by no means incompatible with the fundamental phenomenological irreducibility, and necessity, of transcendental subjectivity – or, as Husserl also puts it, of the ‘pure’ or ‘transcendental ‘I’’ – a structure evidently essential to intentional consciousness as ‘consciousness-of’. On the one hand, Husserl recognises (and struggles with) the peculiar ‘emptiness’ of the ‘pure ‘I’’. On the other hand, a fundamental distinction must clearly be drawn between genuine intentional subjectivity – which even Buddhas and Arahants must of necessity possess – and the erroneous bases upon which the concept of ‘self’ (attā) that Buddhism rejects is constituted: the feeling of ‘I am’ (‘asmī’ti), the sense of ‘I am this’ (‘ayam-aham-asmī’ti), and the concept/conceit of ‘I am’ (asmi-māna) – all of which Buddhas and Arahants by definition do not possess. Hence, it is argued that, while the ‘pure I’ does not refer to some permanent ‘entity’ called ‘self’, nor is it merely an empty, non-referring, conventional linguistic marker: it has not merely a ‘use’, but a genuine meaning, which derives from the intrinsic, irreducible, and ‘pre-linguistic’ experiential structure of ‘consciousness-of’ itself. What is more, this meaning is not only recognised and admitted, but actively utilised, within the doctrine and methodology of early Buddhism, without any sense of contradicting the axiom of anattā.

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Published by: khriniz on May 18, 2013
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05/14/2014

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Academic Papers presented at the 2
nd
IABU ConferenceMahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Main CampusWang Noi, Ayutthaya, Thailand
The International Association of Buddhist Universities(IABU)
Buddhist Philosophy andMeditation Practice
 
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The International Association of Buddhist Universities2012 IABU Editorial Committee:
Ven. Dr. Khammai DhammasamiProf. Padmasiri de SilvaProf. Sarah ShawDr. Dion PeoplesJamie CresswellToshiichi Endo
 
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Toshiichi Eno

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