Freedom of the Will and No-Self in Buddhism

Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 35 (1):121-138 (2018)
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The Buddha, unlike the Upaniṣadic or Brahmanical way, has avoided the concept of the self, and it seems to be left with limited conceptual possibilities for free will and moral responsibility. Now, the question is, if the self is crucial for free will, then how can free will be conceptualized in the Buddhist ‘no-self’ (anattā) doctrine. Nevertheless, the Buddha accepts a dynamic notion of cetanā (intention/volition), and it explicitly implies that he rejects the ultimate or absolute freedom of the will, but not the minimal power of free will. It seems that the Buddha’s view shifts from agent causation (independent ownership) to a causal sequence of impersonal processes (psychophysical factors). This paper claims to shed clarity on ‘whether free will is viable in the context of the anattāvāda in Buddhism.’ It mainly studies the secondary sources (even though it has also discussed the primary sources) and their interpretations of freedom of the will and how it further does argue for a compatibility approach of free will in Buddhist thought.

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Author Profiles

Vineet Sahu
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
Pujarini Das
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

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References found in this work

An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Illusion of Conscious Will.Daniel M. Wegner - 2002 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Freedom evolves.Daniel Clement Dennett - 2003 - New York: Viking Press.
The Illusion of Conscious Will.R. Holton - 2004 - Mind 113 (449):218-221.

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