Volume 36, 1998
Philosophy of Religion
Sander H. Lee
Notions of Selflessness in Sartrean Existentialism and Theravadin Buddhism
In this essay I examine the relationship between Sartre's phenomenological description of the "self" as expressed in his early work (especially Being and Nothingness) and elements to be found in some approaches to Buddhism. The vast enormity of this task will be obvious to anyone who is aware of the numerous schools and traditions through which the religion of Buddhism has manifested itself. In order to be brief, I have decided to select specific aspects of what is commonly called the Theravadin tradition as being representative of Buddhist philosophy. By choosing to look primarily at the Theravadin tradition, I am by necessity ignoring a vast number of other Buddhist approaches. However, in my view, the Theravadin sect presents a consistent Buddhist philosophy which is representative of many of the major trends within Buddhism.