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Mukerji begins by noting that the problem of the self is structured by a paradox: while every object implies a self that knows that object, this statement would suggest that there must also be a knower that knows the self (NS, 5). According to Mukerji, the question ‘Who knows the knower?’ signals a key debate across a range of contemporary British philosophers, who have, however, missed the point that the self is not only not an empirical object but also not a psychological subject. The notion that the self is essentially unknowable through empirical modes is found in various Upaniṣadic texts and subsequently in Śaṁkara’s understanding of the self. This doctrine has recently emerged in Kant’s critical philosophy, where his critique of rational psychology for mistakenly extending the categories of thought to the transcendental ego is, according to Mukerji, reminiscent of the teachings of the Upaniṣads and Śaṁkara (NS, 24). Philosophers should avoid the confusion, labelled transcendental illusion by Kant and adhyāsa by Śaṁkara, of mistaking the pure ego with the objects of knowledge, for by overlooking the distinctions between the innermost subject and the empirical objects, there arises various mistaken theories such as epiphenomenalism and behaviourism (NS, 26).

Mukerji notes that two methods have been developed in recent British philosophy to resolve the egocentric paradox, namely, the experimental or inductive method, and the logical or transcendental method. The former is employed by psychologists such as J.B. Watson who seek to replace the vocabulary of consciousness with that of physiological processes. These attempts to remove the pure ego from an analysis of knowledge commit the fallacy of the ‘decentralization of the self’, which involves the misidentification of the real self with objective entities and states, which are in fact spurious egos. The fundamental problem that theories produced through this method have to face is that of an infinite regress: when a subject S knows objects O, each with specific properties, S itself cannot have these properties, for it would then become another object and would require S* by which it can be known (NS, 9–12). The basic error lies in the forgetfulness on part of the subject S that S itself stands in a unique relation to the objects which cannot be excavated through an empirical analysis.

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