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This book explains the Buddhist doctrine of annattá ("not-self"), which denies the existence of any self, soul, or enduring essence in man. The author relates this doctrine to its cultural and historical context, particularly to its Brahman background. He shows how the Theravada Buddhist tradition has constructed a philosophical and psychological account of personal identity on the apparently impossible basis of the denial of self. Although the emphasis of the book is firmly philosophical, Dr. Collins makes use of a number of academic disciplines, particularly those of anthropology, linguistics, sociology, and comparative religion, in an attempt to discover the "deep structure" of Buddhist culture and imagination, and to make these doctrines comprehensible in terms of the western history of ideas.
Preface; Introduction; Part I. The Cultural and Social Setting of Buddhist Thought: 1. The origins of rebirth; 2. Varieties of Buddhist discourse; Part II. The Doctrine of Not-Slef: 3. The denial of self as 'right view'; 4. Views, attachment, and 'emptiness'; Part III. Personality and Rebirth: 5. The individual of 'conventional truth'; 6. 'Neither the same nor different'; Part IV. Continuity: 7. Conditioning and consciousness; 8. Momentariness and the bhavanga-mind; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Glossary and index of Pali and Sanskrit terms; General index.
Posted September 15, 2000
If you must read only one book on Buddhism, then this has to be it. This thesis of Collins is a scholarly work par excellence. Already a considered a classic by many scholars, it presents with immense clarity the central concept of Buddhism - anatta (no-self). To understand it is to understand perhaps the single most important idea in the entire Buddhist tradition, and Collins does an admirable job of not only clarifying the idea, but also its historical setting. A caveat : this book is not one for casual reading.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.