On the No Soul doctrine, the Self, and free will

langshisha

The No Soul doctrine

Panta rhei. Everything flows. Everything changes. But when we are dead, we are dead. We have no soul. This is, in essence, the anattā or anātman doctrine in Buddhism.

The term combines attā (Pali), or ātman (Sanskrit) with the privative a– or an-, which negates or inverts (cf. atypical or anarchy). [Pāli is the language in which the early Buddhist canons have been preserved. It is a vernacular language that is close to Sanskrit, and also close to the language that the historical Buddha spoke, or could have spoken at least.] Whether or not attā (Pali) or ātman (Sanskrit) and the Western soul concept are one and the same concept is a definitional matter, but you get the idea: there is no ‘essence’ in this world, or in us. Thomas Aquinas’ De Ente et Essentia (on Being and Essence) might be interesting reading, but his…

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