MINE, ME, I : ŚAMKARĀCHĀRYA ON THE NOTION OF SELF AND IDENTITY
Keywords:self, Identity, Atman, Brahman, Advaita--vedanta
The proposed study aims to explore the concepts of self and identity in the philosophy of Śamkarāchārya the Vedantic philosopher. This Critical study seeks to foreground in Śamkara the account of the self that overcomes the limitations of the physicalist and the mentalist accounts of the human self. It focuses on the questions of the ownership of the self, the stability of identity despite change, the consciousness and its relation to the self. It explains the notion of self by equating the self with the body or with the mind, which does not explain our sense of owning/possessing a body or a mind. The idea of self can be philosophically analyzed at two different conceptual levels: We can deal with the notion of self at metaphysical level attempting to understand the meaning and significance of this notion in general. We could also deal with the notion of self along with its contextualities and particularities where we would want to understand particular conceptualization that the individual self undergoes depending upon its contexts and particularities of its situation. I would try to analyze the notion of self and Identity in Śamkara in both these senses. Other question arises with regard to self and identity are as follows: what kind of relationship the self bears with its identity pre-given or constructed? Is there anything essential about the identity of the individual self? If we take up these questions then the question of caste and gender also surface up in this debate in a significant way. Conceptually, the self, in Śamkara’s thought, is explained with reference to the ‘not self’. He argues that neither the body, nor the senses, nor even the mind can be equated with the self. That is why Brahman has been described negatively as “neti neti-not this not this”. What is the nature self and identity that one is experiencing here and now? How do we identify one self? What does it consist in? These are some of the questions that I will explicate in this paper.
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