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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 42, Issue 4, December 2002

William F. Vallicella
Pages 453-466
DOI: 10.5840/ipq200242445

No Self?
A Look at a Buddhist Argument

Central to Buddhist thought and practice is the anattā doctrine. In its unrestricted form the doctrine amounts to the claim that nothing at all possesses self-nature. This article examines an early Buddhist argument for the doctrine. The argument, roughly, is that (i) if anything were a self, it would be both unchanging and self-determining; (ii) nothing has both of these properties; therefore, (iii) nothing is a self. The thesis of this article is that, despite the appearance of formal validity, the truth of (i) is inconsistent with the truth of (iii).

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