The ontological status of the transcendental self : a comparative study of Kant and Śaṅkara

Date
1996
Authors
Sewnath, Ramon R.
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Abstract
The focus of this dissertation is on a comparative study of the notion of the transcendental self or, briefly, the Self as developed by Kant and Sarikara. The main purpose is, however, not simply to compare the views of Kant and Sarikara, but rather to use the rich sources of both the West and the East--that is, in this case the insights of both Kant and Sarikara--to rethink and to elucidate the question of the Self. More specifically, the main problem that is addressed in this dissertation is: what is the ontological status of the Self? Drawing on the insights of both Kant and Sarikara, an attempt is made to elucidate, as well as to provide a possible answer to this question. At the very outset of their projects both Kant and Sarikara have started out with basically different questions and assumptions, and as a result divergent views of the Self have emerged. This is, however, not to say that there are no similarities in their viewpoints. Both claim, for example, that the Self is not an object of empirical consciousness. And, furthermore, that the Self is original pure consciousness. These similarities, even though superficial and functional in nature, nevertheless point to some common concerns, which in turn may be useful in extending our understanding of the Self. But what is perhaps most important is that the discussion of the views of both thinkers in the comparative context shows that the ontological significance attached to the Self varies with the epistemological assumptions with which we operate. This makes it indeed difficult, but certainly not impossible to grasp the ontological status of the Self. A possible way of understanding the ontological status of the Self is to distinguish between the reflexive state of consciousness and original consciousness. While reflexive consciousness is vital for our existence, it keeps us in a perpetual state of becoming. It is suggested that original consciousness as my very mode of being cannot become an object of reflection. It is an experienced reality and not a concept. Thus it is possible to attain genuine self-knowledge when we reach beyond the boundaries of the reflexive state of consciousness.
Description
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1996.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 152-157).
Microfiche.
v, 157 leaves, bound 29 cm
Keywords
Self (Philosophy)
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