/ Insight Knowledge of No Self in Buddhism: An Epistemic Analysis
This paper offers an analysis of what it could mean, in epistemic terms, to arrive at a “more correct view of the world” through the profound alteration of lived experience – or of what is termed, by Buddhists, as ‘insight’ (vipassanā), or more broadly, ‘wisdom’ (paññā). While Buddhist traditions allude to varying targets and degrees of insight knowledge, my analysis will focus on what is widely agreed, in early Buddhism, to be an insight of the most profound in nature: that of fully apprehending the reality of there being no self, through the attainment of nibbāna. My analysis need not assume that the full purported insight into no self must occur all at once from a stage in which the practitioner has a definitive sense of the self. If the attainment of nibbāna occurs over a series of smaller stages or breakthroughs, my inquiry will compare the stages of where the practitioner definitively has a sense of the self with the final stage at which all traces of the self-illusion have vanished.
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