It is my opinion that the distinction between self and body, as set out in the Vaisesika and mentioned in the Vedanta (Sourcebook, 1957, pp121-138, 386-423) , is an extremely cogent theory which seems to be able to reply to most objections raised to it. In this essay I will attempt to show how this theory works and any problems that are raised regarding it. I will also show the similarities and differences between the theory of self and body in the Vaisesika and the Bhagavad-Gita, and show how the Vaisesika seems to have the upper hand in the area of dispute between the two (Chakrabarti, 1999, chs 2-10).
[...] The Bhagavad-Gita also uses analogies such as “just as a person casts off worn-out garments and puts on others that are new, even so does the embodied soul cast off worn-out bodies and take on others that are new.” However, there is one major difference between the theories of the Vaisesika and the Bhagavad-Gita, and that is the idea of how many selves there are. The Vaisesika advocates the multiplicity of selves, whereas the Gita believes there is only one self that governs all bodies. [...]
[...] The only option left to them is to say that the self is unoriginated in the same way the Vaisesika would admit, namely that it is eternal and exists forever. However, this merely implies that unoriginated means something that is brought about by no cause. However, this does not preclude its existence. For example, many do not think the Big Bang did not occur simply because it had no cause. I believe that this objection, although a challenging one, does not show that the self does not exist. [...]
[...] But the Vaisesika cannot offer this as a counterexample, because they had no evidence that this was true at the time, and so the Buddhists can easily challenge it. However, it does appear there is a way to refute this objection. It is claimed that unless the Buddhists can show that the self is built up from other referential concepts, then the fact that it is nonexistent would be meaningless. It seems that the Buddhists wish to say more than simply that the self does not exist at a particular place or time. [...]
[...] These qualities of the self show the variety of conditions within the self, such as virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, which lead us to believe that there is a self for each individual being, and not one large self that is divided between all people. I will come back to this point later on and some objections to it. Firstly, I wish to look at some objections to the distinction of body and self as discussed earlier. The first of these objections suggests that the self may not exist, because the existence of a perceptible object is always connected with a perception of its form, whereas the self has no shape or form, and therefore does not exist. [...]
[...] This also seems like a solid argument to me, and the only dispute here is the definition of ‘mind', which if understood simply as an organ which helps the self to perceive', the theory is hard to attack effectively. From these arguments it seems that the only logical explanation for where consciousness could belong is the self. To help justify this claim, the Vaisesika lists many types of bodily activity from which we can infer the existence of a controller, namely the self. [...]
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