Attention and self in Buddhist philosophy of mind

Jonardon Ganeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Buddhist philosophy of mind is fascinating because it denies that there is a self in one of the ways that has traditionally seemed best able to make sense of that idea: the idea that the self is the agent of actions including the thinking of thoughts. In the Buddhist philosophy of mind of the fifth century thinker Buddhaghosa what does the explanatory work is instead attention. Attention replaces self in the explanation of cognition’s grounding in perception and action; it does this because it performs two functions at once, a function of placing and a function of focussing. A comparison between the thought of Buddhaghosa and Brian O’Shaughnessy helps to clarify what is at stake in the residual employment of the concept self as a derived rather than a primitive notion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-362
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Buddhaghosa
  • Buddhist philosophy
  • O’Shaughnessy
  • attention
  • self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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