Self and agency: a defence of Praśastapāda's differential naturalism

Sinha, Shalini (2014) Self and agency: a defence of Praśastapāda's differential naturalism. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis discusses the Vaiśeṣika philosopher Praśastapāda’s conception of self in his
text, the Padārthadharmasaṃgraha, and its key commentaries. It examines the
arguments these texts propose for the existence of a self that is non-physical and yet
non-Cartesian, based in a paradigm I term ‘differential naturalism’. I examine
Praśastapāda’s four arguments for the existence of a self from: the structures of agency
and action in human cognition; in intentional mental and bodily acts; in the homeostatic
regulation of the human body; and in the biological life of the human organism. The
core thesis, I argue, is that the rational structures of agency and action we find in these
activities require a conscious owner. This must be a self.
The dualist argument for the self’s non-physical nature emerges from a
dichotomous ontology of mental and physical properties and causal powers, which
entails that only a non-physical substance can be a bearer of the normative and
intentional structures that agency and mental causation demand. The minded self is,
however, necessarily embodied.
Praśastapāda, I suggest, postulates a naturalistic conception of self. Such a self
enables the integration of the mental, moral and physical realms as aspects of natural
order, for self is the bearer not only of psychological, vital and normative powers in the
natural world, but of natural law qua moral law. This integrative, yet differential,
naturalism provides an innovative alternative to Western and classical Indian physicalist
and dualist perspectives.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B0108 Ancient (600 B.C-430 A.D.) > B0121 Orient. By region or country > B0132.A-Z India. Special topics, A-Z > B0132.V2 Vaiśeṣika
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 11:10
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015 15:38
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/48749

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