No-self and the phenomenology of ownership

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The Abhidharma Buddhist revisionary metaphysics aims to provide an intellectually and morally preferred picture of the world that lacks a self. The first part of the paper claims that the Abhidharma ‘no-self’ view can be plausibly interpreted as a no-ownership view, according to which there is no locus or subject of experience and thus no owner of mental or bodily awarenesses. On this interpretation of the no-self view, the Abhidharma Buddhist metaphysicians are committed to denying the ownership of experiences, and thereby apparently obliged to explain our purported experience of ownership. My experiences seemingly come with the sense that I am the one who is undergoing this experience. But is there a really an experience of ownership—namely, an experience of being a subject that underlies our sense of ownership? I argue that there is nothing that it is like to be an owner of experiences, in the sense that there is no experiential phenomenology associated with the ownership of experience. The second part of the paper argues that, since there is no experience of ownership, there is no onus on the Abhidharma philosopher to give an explanation of the sense of ownership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-27
Number of pages14
JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Abhidharma Buddhism
  • experience of ownership
  • no-self
  • sense of ownership

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