'I' am a Fiction: An Analysis of the No-self Theories

Indian Philosophical Quarterly 39 (1-2):117-128 (2012)
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The pronoun ‘I’ refers to myself from the first-person perspective and a person (me) from the third person perspective. Essentially there is something common between the two perspectives taken: ‘I’ from the first person perspective refers to ‘self’; from the third person perspective refers to a ‘person’. Now ‘self’ and ‘person’ signify the same concept. ‘Self’ is a term used in context of first-person statements and ‘person’ is a term used in third person contexts. Both the terms refer to the same concept but from different perspectives. Consequently the terms ‘no-person’ and ‘no-self’ will be taken as synonymous in this article. The use of ‘I’ signifies one more thing – that there exists a ‘self’ or ‘person’ that exists through time, in other words, it signifies ‘self-identity’ or ‘personal identity’. The aim of this article is to analyze the notion of ‘self’ or ‘person’ as denoted in the usage of the pronoun ‘I’. This article would examine ‘I’ as a fictitious entity in the background of the two historical theories of personal identity – David Hume’s theory and the Buddhist theory.



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Vineet Sahu
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

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