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Self-Knowledge as Non-Dual Awareness: A Comparative Study of Plotinus and Indian Advaita Philosophy

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Author: Binita Mehta1
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  • 1 Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Texas State University601 University Dr., San Marcos, tx 78666USA
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Abstract

The paper examines the problem of self-knowledge from the perspectives of Plotinus and the Indian Advaita (non-dual) school. Analyzing the subject-object relation, I show that according to both Plotinus and Advaita thinkers, full self-knowledge demands complete absence of otherness. Plotinus argues that if self-consciousness is divided into subject-object relation then one will know oneself as contemplated but not as contemplating (v.3.5) and no real self-knowledge obtains in this case. Śaṅkara, who constitutes an important representative of Advaita thought, points out that the self cannot know itself as an object because what is called an object to be known becomes established when it is separated from the self, the subject. I argue that at the level of the One, similar to the state of ātman consciousness in Advaita framework, the soul experiences itself in expansive non-dual consciousness. Lastly, I examine the role of non-duality as the foundation of knowledge.

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