As I have argued in an article of mine (Desidero ergo sum, RSO 2007, see my cv for details and link), historically, Mīmāṃsakas started inquiring into a ‘‘subject” independently of the emergence of the controversy on the nature and existence of a Self which was deemed to extend throughout classical Indian philosophy. They were led to the theme because of the Vedic prescriptions related to the agent of sacrifice. As a matter of fact, they interpret Upaniṣadic statements about the ātman (‘‘Self'') as referring to the agent of sacrifice, thus relating the ātman with concrete instances of an agent. Such an agent is in turn identified by his/her desire for the result of the sacrifice. In summary, the agent emerges as ‘‘subject” because of his/her desire for something. The inseparable bond of subject and desire seems, by the way, to contradict the common view that liberation is attained through the extinction of desires. Either this stand-point is not shared by Mīmāṃsakas, or the Mīmāṃsā theory of the subject is meant to explain only the worldly status of the subject and the subject who attains liberation is out of its precinct of application.
Since the subject is interpreted as, first of all, a desiring subject, it is also active. This stress on activity is typical of Mīmāṃsā (and, later, Kashmir Śaiva philosophies), against the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and Advaita-Vedānta idea of a subject withdrawing from any kind of worldly concern, including knowledge. On the other hand, this desiring subject is not identified with the body, which is only said to be one of its instruments. Hence, the Mīmāṃsā position refutes any kind of reductionism and physicalism (including the milder form of a subject unavoidably and originally inseparable from its body, as maintained by P.F. Strawson in Individuals, 1959) and stresses instead the willing dimension of the subject.
By maintaining this view, do Mīmāṃsakas aim at an ontology of the self, or at reconstructing our inner experience of the subjectivity-phenomenon? If the former, can the Mīmāṃsā account face the challenges of contemporary critiques of the self (reductionism, "Bundle theory", Strawson etc.)? Does it differ from R. Chisholm's approach of the self as ‘‘innocent until proven guilty’’?