discussion 14 Giles

profileSamik Amin

Where Locke and Schechtman hold the view that we are a succession of experiences organized by a consciousness, Hume took what we understand to be an Eastern approach. One of the central ideas of Buddhism is the pursuit of ‘self-negation’. By ‘negating’ or eliminating the need for one’s differentiation from other entities in the world, a person is able to eliminate material desire; and, thus attachment to the material world. This idea of self-negation is meant in the mystical sense, where the ultimate purpose of self-negation is the joining of one with Brahman (Approximately, this is the spirit of the Universe. See the SEP article on Religious Experience for more information.)

In this article James Giles attempts to advance the position Hume by relating to subjective phenomena regarding an individual’s psychological and emotional states. The footnotes in this assigned reading are particularly useful. 

Prompt: Explain Giles position in this article and how he makes the case for a theory of personal identity that can epistemologically (how we might have knowledge of) account how our subjective experiences, if we are not ourselves constituted as a ‘bundle of ever-changing elements’. Second, give an account of whether we should accept the account of Locke and Schechtman, or that of Hume and Giles. Provide a reasoned opinion to your decision.

Required Reading: Reading 14: James Giles, “The Non-Self Theory: Hume, Buddhism, and Personal Identity” (PDF); David Hume - Of Personal Identity (Weblink)

Recommended: SEP, "Religious Experience" - Section 4, "The Diverse Objects of Religious Experience"


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