The Self and What Lies Beyond the Self: Remarks on Ganeri's ‘Mental Time Travel and Attention’

Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (4):395-405 (2017)
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Abstract

ABSTRACTI believe that Jonardon Ganeri, in his essay ‘Mental Time Travel and Attention’ together with his book The Self, develops a plausible and attractive account of the self as a mere ‘sense of ownership’ that accompanies our experiences or a ‘discrete cognitive system whose function is to implicate the self in the content of memory,’ but which needn't refer to anything. Objections that might be raised from a Strawsonian perspective are not, I believe, decisive. Nevertheless, even though Ganeri makes ingenious use of Indian sources in working out this proposal, he chooses not to discuss what I take to be the most intriguing idea of Indian philosophers about the self. Philosophers from various Indian traditions argue that the ‘self’ as ordinarily experienced, that is, the finite ‘living’ self consisting of the body and cognitive and emotional faculties, is not what one really is. Rather, there is a reality beyond this self, which emerges when one steps away from or ‘abandons’ it. I suggest that an experience of this higher or ‘true’ Self or reality that lies beyond the self could still be accommodated within a naturalistic framework.

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John Taber
University of New Mexico

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