Abstract

The interest in an account of self-awareness derives from the fact that it aims to illuminate, if only partly, an essentially invisible subject of experience. A preliminary look at accounts of self-awareness, discussed in ancient Indian and Western theories, shows that the self is neither essentially nor exclusively an invisible subject. Theories of self-awareness in the Indian and Western traditions fall under two broad categories: the paraprakāśa (literally other-illumination) or reflectionist theories and svaprakāśa (literally self-illumination) or reflexivist theories and are usually presented as incompatible alternatives. Here it is argued that the reflectionist and reflexivist theories of self-awareness are not deeply incompatible; rather they present or reveal different aspects of the self. However, it will be shown that the reflexivist has the upper hand in this debate since reflexive awareness constitutes the basic or fundamental form of self-awareness. Nonetheless, introspectionism and reflexivism together dispel the myth of the “invisible subject.”

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