Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Philosophy Dept.


James Behuniak


Belief in the concept of the self causes suffering. Unfortunately, although conceptual constructions like this may help to define our goal—the casting off of the belief in the self—this is a much more difficult thing to actualize and attain in daily practice. Our building blocks can form a neat tower, and we can climb to the top and gaze at the horizon, but they will topple, leaving us once again over our heads in the hedgerow. Buddha describes his teachings as a raft to ford the river of suffering in order to reach the far off bank of enlightenment: as one does not take the raft after crossing the river, so we must not lean on his teachings to make our way through life. So I intend here to abandon the raft for other accounts of existence written by other thinkers, and in this my purpose is twofold: First, in reading other interpretations we can gain new tools with which to study the architecture of the concept of the self, and second, in studying the history of the concept of self as it progresses through history we can better understand the non-inherentness of this problematic construct. I intend to examine the philosophies of self in the Chinese and European traditions, and their subsequent deconstructive traditions in order to achieve this goal.


Plato, Augustine, Descartes

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