Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Buddhism, Subjective, Objective, Psychology
In this paper, I argue that psychology can support the concept of no-self in Mahayana Buddhism. Psychologists tend to separate the self into the mind and the behavior, with differing perspectives on the roles each plays in our human experience (APA, 2022). I respectively delineate this dichotomy as the subjective self and the objective self, distinguishing the subjective self as the notion that the self is a completely private experience and the objective self as the notion that the self is public and knowledgeable to outsiders. These selves are each preserved through contrasting methodologies. The subjective self is studied through the idiographic method and the objective self is studied through the nomothetic method. Despite this tendency of separation, incongruencies in how psychologists conceptualize the self have impacted the methodology through which they subsequently study it. Allport (1961) focused on preserving the subjective self, but ultimately studied it nomothetically. Skinner’s (1953) research in behaviorism focused on supporting the objective self through the nomothetic method, but now his methods are utilized to support the notion of the subjective self (APA, 2022). To address this inconsistency in psychological studies, I introduce the Mahayana Buddhist concept of the no-self. The no-self in Buddhism asserts that no self initially existed (Rahula, 1959), which upon first glance is contrary to psychology’s notions of the subjective self and objective self. However, further examination of Mahayana Buddhism reveals the ways in which it ultimately takes ownership of the subjective and objective in the Acela Sutta and the logic of the nonduality of duality and nonduality. Therefore, because psychology tackles the same dualities which Mahayana Buddhism outlines, I argue that the discipline supports its notion of the no-self. Examining psychology through the lens of Mahayana Buddhism shines light on how religion can provide insights into how the self is conceptualized within psychology. This finding has implications for contemporary issues that surpass the bounds of academia.
Arnold, Katherine, "A Middle Way in Psychology" (2022). Honors Theses. 2661.
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