Exploring Ego: From the Consciousness of Self to the Emergence of Personality

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2019


Exploring Ego: From the Consciousness of Self to the Emergence of Personality



Ni Liangkang


Thinking and debating the question of “being” and “non-being” is a constant thread in the intellectual history of the West and the East. Comparative study of the phenomenology of consciousness, the Buddhist consciousness-only (Vijāptimātratāsiddhi) theory and the Confucian philosophy of the mind offer a contemporary solution to this question. On one hand, the horizontal intuitive reflection of the essence of self can only provide a structural understanding of “pure self”; it is equivalent to an extreme point of the entire stream of consciousness, and all experiential activities set out from this “punctiform self,” but it has no experiential contents itself. On the other hand, the phenomenology of genesis, the Buddhist theory of interdependent origination (pratitya-samutpada) and the contemporary Confucian philosophy of mind reveal, via vertical essential intuition, the meaning of the emergence of the linear self, and offer a solution to the question of the emergence of personality in the self from an emergent-historical perspective. Specifically, they display the experiential contents of personality, that is, the emergence of the natures of personalities and habits, and the emergence both of individual personalities as monads and of interacting personalities as society. The process from the theoretical cognition of self to the practical cultivation of self (the improvement of one’s personality) thus constitutes a basic approach for contemporary study of the self.