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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prescriptions and subjects

The Prābhākara texts claim that a subject becomes a person only upon being enjoined.

The Prābhākara literature does not further elaborate on the ontological existence of subjectivity prior to the injunction. Apparently, Prābhākaras were not concerned with a pre public stage of subjectivity, which is a sort of psychological noumenon. They focused on the full-blown personhood, which entails being aware of oneself as oneself and being part of an intersubjective net of relationships, which is only possible upon being enjoined. From an ontological point of view, however, one might admit the existence of a basic subject, with 'subject' in the Medieval sense of what is the locus for the action of something else (in this case, for the predication of the prescription). Such a subject would not be aware of himself/herself as a person, but would have some sort of basic intentional consciousness. In the Prābhākara terminology, this stage could be identified with the consciousness of oneself as knower that is involved in every cognitive act. IN fact, according to the Prābhākara epistemology, every cognitive act is thought to be reflexive and, hence, to necessarily entail a knower.

Thus, from an ontological point of view, one might suggest that a young child starts becoming aware of things around her/him and, hence, implicitly, of the fact that s/he is experiencing them. It is only through other people's injunctions, though, that s/he becomes aware of that experiencer as being himself/herself. This awareness of herself/himself, in summary, embeds the cognitive capacity within an intersubjectively shared personhood.

On children and subjects, see here.

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