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NMSU PHIL 201 - Commentary

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Module 1.1 CommentaryWe are considering in this module, whether or not we humans have a soul or self that endures. We will look at what a soul or self is (if it exists). But moreover, we will read more precisely about what it is that endures in a soul or self. Then we will read two selections that actually deny that there is a self or soul that exists and endures. I have chosen three selections by three philosophers for this module. John Locke, from England who lived in the 17th century, talks about the nature of the soul or self. Specifically, he wonders what it is that actually makes a person the self whom they know. Pay attention to what he says about the finger. It is wild! Next, we will read a text from the Buddhist Scriptures, “The Questions of King Milinda on the Self.” This text is written in a dialogue or as a conversation between King Milinda and Nagasena. They talk together about whether a self can even exist. In this reading, it is important to be aware of the Buddhist position that human existence consists of five continuous processes or skandhas (physical or bodily processes, sensation, volition, perception, and consciousness). So, then the question is if humans consist of the five skandhas, can there also be a self that continues? Finally, we end this module with a reading by David Hume who was born in Scotland and lived inthe 18th Century. Like the Buddhist monk Nagasena, Hume denies the existence of an enduring self or soul. Also, like Nagasena, he describes human existence (or at least human thinking) in terms of a continuous process. It is really important to get that Hume sees human existence as a“bundle of perceptions” that are constantly changing. When Hume wrote this, he was replying to previous philosophers who claimed that humans had a self that endured. You will see that philosophy has been a continuous conversation between philosophers. Now you are part of the conversation

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