Accessibility of the subliminal mind: Transcendence vs. immanence

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It has long been taken for granted in modern psychology that access to the unconscious is indirectly gained through the interpretation of a trained psychoanalyst, evident in theories of Freud, Jung and others. However, my essay problematizes this very indirectness of access by bringing in a Yogācāra Buddhist formulation of the subliminal mind that offers a direct access. By probing into the philosophical significance of the subliminal mind along the bias of its access, I will argue that the different views of the subliminal consciousness correspond to different models of " transcendence" and "immanence." We will see that the involvement of the transcendence principle in Freud's and Jung's conceptualizations of the unconscious results in the denial of direct access to the unconscious; only the Buddhist immanence-based formulation provides direct access. This East-West comparative approach is an attempt to examine how different models of reasoning, vis-à-vis transcendence and immanence, can lead to drastically different theories as well as the practices they instruct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
JournalContinental Philosophy Review
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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