Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Individuality and Subjectivity

Is there any concept of the difference between individuality and subjectivity in Indian philosophy?
That is, does the critique of the concept of a subject also embed a critique of any possible individuality? Are individuality and subjectivity well distinguished in Western philosophy in general? And in Western common sense?

I just stumbled in this statement by Birgit Kellner (in her contribution to Hans-Dieter Klein's Der Begriff der Seele in der Philosophiegeschichte, 2005):
[…] hier wird kein Unterschied gemacht zwischen personenbezogenen Termen wie Eigennamen , "Person" oder "Seele", und dem Personalpronomen "ich" –eine Differenzierung von Subjektivität und Individualität ist zumindest in diesem Bereich buddhistischer Philosophie nicht auszumachen (B. Kellner, Der Begriff der Seele in der buddhistischen Philosophie, p. 192).

Kellner discusses here Vasubandhu's critique of the ātman in his Abhidharmakośa (chapter pudgalapratiṣedha) but her point is perhaps more general. In fact, whenever the aham ("I") is considered as different from the ātman, this is rather out of different concerns, primarily because it is a theorised concept (a vikalpa), and not something which could be directly and intuitively grasped.

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