10 Jan 2009

Castañeda's indexical reference, first-person pronoun, and transcendental selfhood

[The following was written prior to the release of James Hart's book, Who One Is.]

Corry Shores

Transcending Reference:

Will James Hart Point Us to Our Indelible Selves?


“Who said that?”

One says “I” in reference to oneself, but who is this self-referring self? For Hector-Neri Castañeda, the question is not, “who is the I?” but rather: “what does the utterance of ‘I’ imply?” which he concludes to be a transcendental self and a transcendental noumenal world connected by means of the indexical mechanism of the first-person pronoun. Castañeda’s thinking might make its way into James G. Hart’s forthcoming text, Who One Is, judging from Hart’s recent seminar presentations at the Husserl Archives of Leuven. As preparation for his possible treatments of Castañeda, I would like to present the following exposition on the transcendentality of indexicality in Castañeda's thinking, by drawing from Hart’s seminars and some of his other writing on Castañeda to help determine the most potentially relevant material to explore. Regardless, on its own, this exposition still should serve to summarize and connect the ideas that allow Castañeda to account for the transcendental self implied in indexical reference.

To do so, I begin with his understanding of sameness and guise, before moving to his assurances that the first-person pronoun invariably “harpoons” a self. This point is crucial; for, merely from an analysis of the indexical properties of the first-person pronoun “I,” Castañeda believes we can conclude with certainty that there is a transcendental I grounded dually in a transcendental self and in a transcendental noumenal world.

To arrive at these conclusions, we need first to elaborate Castañeda's distinction between identity and sameness. He explains that identity – “the reflexive relation par excellence” – is no more than self-identity; and its “most important and crucial truth” is Leibniz’s law of the indiscernibility of identicals:

(LL) If x is identical with y, then whatever is true of x is true of y and whatever is true of y is true of x. (Castañeda “Identity and Sameness” 122-123)

Yet, Castañeda demonstrates that, although this law of identity applies to the properties, truths, and non-linguistic features of entities, it does not serve as the principle governing the substitutions of different nominations for the same entity (123). Castañeda offers the example of Oedipus: before the pestilence, he at least knew that the previous king of Thebes was dead; thus the statement,

(1) “Before the pestilence Oedipus believed that the previous King of Thebes was dead,”

is true. Yet, although Oedipus did not initially know the fact that

(2) “The previous King of Thebes was the same as Oedipus' father;”

it is nonetheless a true proposition; and thus the statement obtained through substituting the equivalent terms,

(3) “Before the pestilence Oedipus believed that Oedipus' father was dead,”

should also be true. However, on account of the story’s dramatic irony, a contrary statement,

(4) “It is not the case that before the pestilence Oedipus believed that Oedipus’ father was dead”

is also true (123). Thus, we see that although “Oedipus’ father” and “the previous King of Thebes” both refer to the main character of the play, they cannot always substitute each other, as Leibniz law might suggest.

Frege’s solution to this puzzle was to distinguish the common primary referent, Laius himself, from the different primary individuals, “Oedipus’ father” and “the previous King of Thebes” (The Phenomeno-Logic of the I 184).[1] Castañeda's solution is similar: he also differentiates the two nominations for Laius; however, he offers what he believes to be a more thorough and satisfactory account for how a self-identical entity can possess non-identifiable nominations, which he accomplishes by positing two crucial notions: 1) We reference primarily the guises of things; while the entities of which they are guises are referenced only secondarily; and 2) The guises of an object are the same as – but not identical to – one another, on account of the phenomeno-logical operation of consubstantiation, which establishes their unified sameness (“Identity and Sameness” 124, 145). “Oedipus’ father” and “the previous king of Thebes” are different guises; that is to say, they are “different possible ‘appearances’ of the one and the same particular – where 'appearance' means not visual appearance, but presentation to the mind, whether to sense or the intellect.” When we think or perceive an object, we have before our mind some guise of it, not that very entity of which it is a guise (125).

To understand the logical operation of consubstantiation, we also need to explicate the other related notions of identity and sameness. As we noted above, identity is “characterized by Leibniz's law and absolutely total reflexivity” (144). This would be a pure and unmediated non-linguistic self-relationship of something qua itself. All other forms of unity relations are more properly considered types of “samenesses.”

Castañeda believes that if we wish to solve Frege’s puzzle, we must see how the different types of samenesses become confused in it. He names one sort conflation, which is the logical identity shared by the different denominations of the same thing (144) (the different senses for Frege, the different guises for Castañeda, and perhaps we might venture to add, the different signifiers for the same signified in Saussure). Castañeda formulates the logical operation of conflation as


(if the nominations are the same, and)


(if the nominations are different)

(Thinking, Language, & Experience 245)

The ‘C’ refers to the relation’s “community of being,” and he prefixes the asterisk to the C, because this relationship holds a priori and independently to the contingencies in the world that are responsible for the differences between the guises for a same object (“Identity and Sameness” 144). Castañeda offers the following examples of conflation:

*C (the man who weighs 250 pounds and loves to hear Mozart's operas, the man who loves to hear Mozart's operas and weighs 250 pounds);


*C (the book nobody reads, the book which either both has red covers and nobody reads, or nobody reads).[2] (144)

In both cases, the conflated nominations are logically equivalent, and statements still remain true even after the substitution of one nomination for the other alters the sentence’s contents.

The next sort of sameness, consubstantiation, unifies nominations that are contingently the same. Castañeda explains that at the core of the actual existence of material and mental things is their contingency: an entity’s existence cannot be logically predicated, Castañeda argues, it can only occur contingently in the world (Thinking, Language, & Experience 239). Wittgenstein deals with a similar problem when distinguishing idle from non-idle statements. For example, if we analyze the terms in the statement,

“Paper is not edible,”

we see that it is a tautology; for, it is always true that paper has the property of inedibility (Moser “Language Idling and Language in Use” 175). Such a statement is empty and senseless for Wittgenstein, unless it is actually used. For example, if it is written on a piece of paper wrapped around a sandwich one is eating, then it means that one is “most likely in the United States and need not try to sue the company who produced the sandwich” (175). When not used, such tautologies are idle and senseless, although they have sense when they are non-idle, when they are in use.

Quine offers a different explanation:

Wittgenstein’s mistake is more clearly recognizable, when he objects to the notion of identity that “to say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing.” Actually of course the statements of identity that are true and not idle consist of unlike singular terms that refer to the same thing. (Quine Word and Object, p. 117. qt in Béziau 6)

Castañeda “corrects” Quine’s explanation of this situation by inserting his own bracketed word substitutions:

Actually of course the statements of identity that are true and not idle

[i.e. contingent] consist of [i.e., are expressed by sentences consisting of]

unlike singular terms that refer [secondarily, I would add] to the same

thing. (Castañeda “Identity and Sameness” 132-133)

By placing the term “contingent” beside “true and not-idle,” Castañeda is suggesting that such statements of identity as “The king of Thebes preceding Oedipus was the same as Oedipus' father” are not empty tautologies, even though they refer (secondarily) to the same object; for, one entity has distinguishable manifestations (different according to the contingencies in context of their appearance), and to each manifestation belongs its own unique nomination. The manifestations are referenced primarily, but their respective object only secondarily.

The operation that unifies different nominations for the distinct guises of singular objects is consubstantiation, which he formulates as:


The asterisk following the C indicates that the relation is contingent and a posteriori (Thinking, Language, & Experience 242). Thus, it is more phenomeno-logical than logical, and it is the operation underlying the unification that brings about guises and that links these unified guises with each other. To understand the phenomeno-logical dimension of consubstantiation, we will examine how phenomenal experiences are involved in the construction and grouping of guises.

Castañeda claims that the fundamental reality consists of existing individuals, which we confront in experience (68), and to perceptually confront an object is to place it within the spatiotemporal structure that underlies the world’s causal order (The Phenomeno-Logic of the I 238). Perception’s spatiotemporal placing is a “mapping” of the objects in the field of perception (Thinking, Language, & Experience 77), through which “demonstrative tails” grow and serve to make up a “field of demonstrative referents” (238; 77).[3] Perception’s mapping differentiates the distinct objects according to their properties (62), which are the “ultimate components of the world,” and which we abstract from their respective individuals (239). Such a particular entity is apprehended when we “bundle” together the properties that differentiate it from all other objects (62). According to the Principle of Differentiation at work in this grouping operation:

Each ascertainable difference between two individuals consists in a difference in properties. Thus, every property possessed by an individual is a principle of difference, and the set of differences characteristic of an individual is tantamount to the set of properties possessed by the individual. (63)

The differences are grouped according to the law of consistence:[4] “only logically compatible sets of properties determine actualizable concrete individuals;” and the grouping operation is consubstantiation, which collects properties together according to the following principles, where (F) is a property, and x is an individual:

C*(x,x) (x(F) ~x(~F))

C*(x,x) (x(~F) ~x(F))

Also, it should be noted that the existence of an individual is defined as self-consubstantiation:

Def. x exists = def. C*(x,x)

(Thinking, Language, & Experience 243)

It seems perhaps that the first of the previous two principles indicates that the existence of individual x, (that is, its self-consubstantiation), implies that if property-F is a property of x, then it is not the case that it bears the property opposed to F (if the apple is red, then it is not not-red); and for the second, if an object lacks a certain property, then it does not bear that property (if the apple is not red, then it is not the case that it is red) (63). Yet, if a property is a differential relationship to another property that itself is such a differential relationship, then these above two principles, which determine the grouping of common properties, likewise establishes a relation of difference to other properties that themselves can be so grouped through consubstantiation, thereby constituting (co-constituting, co-consubstantiating) the existences of other individuals. For example, the apple that is (uniformly) red does not bear colors that are not-red, which means that it is encased by a field of properties that are not that color red; (even if the apple is in a basket with other same-colored apples, we might presume the air between them is not that color). Hence, it would seem that consubstantiation is a dual grouping/excluding process underlying the existence of individuals.

The set of such grouped properties is the “core” of a guise (“Identity and Sameness” 146), which is the individual thing’s presentation to the mind, its appearance to our awareness (Thinking, Language, & Experience 125). Presentation occurs when the objects that we perceive are non-differentiated from their respective perceptually-mapped representations, that came about through the consubstantive grouping of the perceived properties. When something is presented, rather than merely perceived, the “thinker thinkingly” confronts it; and, because presentation is the convergence of representations with the objects they represent, perceptual thinking is iconic (77). This sort of representational relationship is reminiscent of Pierce’s notion of the icon, whose significance is derived from its resemblance to its respective object, as for example the machinist’s scale drawing, which indicates the structural organization of a machine’s parts[5] (Burks “Icon, Index, and Symbol” 673).

Thinking, namely thinking nonperceptually, “bestows some vicarious presence to whatever is not available for confrontation” (Castañeda Thinking, Language, & Experience 77). Nonperceptual thinking makes something that is absent “somehow present,” by means of a representation, which is of a drastically different nature than the object it represents (77). On account of this drastic difference between the representation and the absent thing it represents, nonperceptual thinking is symbolic (77), and it must possess “symbolic mechanisms” capable of representing confronted objects and conveying confrontational references to other people. The fundamental “mechanisms” of reference to confronted particulars are indexical references (68), which refer to items present in our own experience. The primary objects of reference are the guises, and their respective objects in the world are only referenced secondarily (“Identity and Sameness” 128). Indexicals include such demonstrative expressions as ‘this,’ ‘that,’ ‘now,’ ‘then,’ ‘here,’ and ‘there;’ personal pronouns (‘I,’ ‘you,’ ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘it,’ etc.); and the verbal tenses used in direct speech constructions (Thinking, Language, & Experience 4-5). Indexical references may also be attributed to others by means of what Castañeda calls quasi-indexical-references, which are not strictly indexical references but rather depict the indexical references of other people (5). What is not present to us, but present to someone else, may be represented to us by means of quasi-indexicals. Where indexicals have the “executive function of placing items, so to speak, as confronted in person, in experience;” the executive function of quasi-indexicals puts “before one’s eyes a replica of the others’ indexical references” (4-5). Consider, for example, the statement:

A year ago watching the depression next to the huge oak tree planted by his great-grandfather, the Editor of Soul thought thus:

(D) “A treasure IS hidden HERE. I WILL BE wealthy if I dig it out NOW.” (Thinking, Language, & Experience 5)

Here we quote the Editor’s own declaration in which he uses indexicals to refer to himself and to things immediate to him. We may represent to ourselves the Editor’s indexical references by substituting quasi-indexicals and adopting a mode of indirect speech:

A year ago watching the depression next to the huge oak tree planted by his great-grandfather, the Editor of Soul thought that (S) a treasure WAS hidden THERE. HE (HIMSELF) WOULD BE wealthy if HE (HIMSELF) dug it out THEN.” (Thinking, Language, & Experience 5)

Indexical references are personal, because they refer to what one confronts in one’s own experience; and, they are as ephemeral as the world’s objects are fleeting: a “this quickly turns into a that, and soon enough it is lost to experience and is not even a remote that; a you goes away and is replaced by another, and then there is just oneself alone fretting about something or other” (69). Consubstantiation, which on the perceptual-thinking level collects the properties making-up an object, is also the relation that connects different guises of the same object; for example:

“The morning star is the evening star”


(Thinking, Language, & Experience 242)

This sort of consubstantiation is a synchronic sameness. Yet also, there is an operation that consubstantiates presently-appearing guises with ones that previously appeared as present but now appear as memories of previous guises, and he terms this operation transubstantiation. He explains that: 1) the “unity and order of the world is registered in the memories of the thinker” (The Phenomeno-Logic of the I 243); 2) these memories of previously-presented object-guises and I-guises may appear to present-thought by means of their remembrance, thereby becoming available for consubstantiation; and 3) “the time of an experience is a specious present (referred to indexically as now) within which sub-experiences have their own now’s, overlapping experiences belonging to overlapping I-guises”[6] (“The Self and its Guises” 62). For these reasons, we may connect our guises that are spread across a “spacetime vector” by means of transubstantiation (Thinking, Language, & Experience 251). A self, Castañeda explains, is an enduring entity, and thus to refer to it is to index both A) the networks of synchronic consubstantiations anchored to the I uttering “I,” and B) the diachronic transubstantiations of the numerous I’s “overlapping through a sequence of shared specious presents” (The Phenomeno-Logic of the I 210). With these phenomeno-logical notions of guise, consubstantiation, and transubstantiation, we may now examine how a transcendental self is implied almost merely from the utterance of the word “I.” Yet before this, we will first see how Castañeda argues for the necessity that the first-person indexical be the sole demonstrative whose execution invariably references the self who utters it.

Castañeda offers thought experiments to illustrate how his notions of guise and consubstantiation can explain why in certain exceptional cases of perceptual self-misrecognition, the first-person pronoun would be the sole indexical that invariably refers to the self uttering it. For one example, we imagine a man, Gaskon, who believes that people bearing a certain facial appearance have a fatal illness, “Fness.” Gaskon himself acquires this altered appearance, and hence when he sees himself in a mirror, he does not immediately recognize his reflected image. Instead, he attends mostly to the symptoms of the dreaded illness Fness, and states out loud, “He (or this person, or that man [pointing to the man in the mirror] is F.”[7] Gaskon thereupon dies of a heart attack, never arriving upon the true conclusion I am F (Thinking, Language, & Experience 72).

Without the notions of guise and consubstantiation, we might not be able to explain such situations where A) one correctly perceives the set of features constituting oneself, which implies one cannot use second- and third-person indexicals to refer to those sets; yet, B) on account of special circumstances, one is led to misrecognize oneself, and thus rightfully uses these non-first-person pronouns. One might not consubstantiate oneself-as-perceiver with oneself-as-perceived, even when clearly perceiving oneself, and thus we can see the phenomeno-logical compatibility between such sentences as “Gaskon is F” and Gaskon’s statement “I am not F,” despite their logical contrariety.

To elaborate more on the way perceptual consubstantiation externally predicates certain features to a guise, Castañeda utilizes the notion of F-protraction (“Identity and Sameness” 146). In his formulation for this operation, a is a guise and F is a property of that guise, and a[F] is the union of a, (which is consubstantially made up of its core set of properties), with the property F, (which presumably belongs to that set of core properties). According to F-protraction, the predicative observation that

a is F

has the deeper form,


which perhaps means that when we perceptually predicate a property to a guise, we consubstantiate 1) the guise taken wholly as the set of all its properties, with 2) the guise taken wholly but also as featuring especially one of its constituent properties, brought to our attentive awareness on account of the contextual circumstances surrounding its presentation to us. For example, when seeing that a pencil one holds is yellow, is to see that

C*(the pencil in my hand, the pencil in my hand [yellow])

(“Identity and Sameness” 146)

This formulation perhaps indicates that, by noticing the pencil’s yellowness, one consubstantiates a guise for that pencil, (which perhaps could also be a mental representation or a remembered past guise for it), with the guise of the pencil as it appears when one especially notices its yellowness. We also could have attended more to its length, or its relations to other objects, for example. In the case of Gaskon and the mirror, he correctly predicates F-sickness to the guise he perceives; yet, on account of certain circumstances, he rightly does not consubstantiate the F-predicated guise with his I-guise, (which is perhaps predicated by the property of looking-at-someone-with-F). Instead, it seems, he consubstantiates the F-predicated guise with another one bearing the predicate ‘appearing-to-be-at-a-distance,’ hence his rightful third-person reference to that guise.

For Castañeda, the Gaskon example establishes the principle I*:

I* First-person reference is not reducible to demonstrative third-person reference to an entity spoken of, even if this is oneself. (Thinking, Language, and Experience 71)

Castañeda explains that we may imagine similar examples for:

I-Y* First-person reference and second-person reference are mutually irreducible (71).

For this principle, I would suggest the example of Gaskon seeing himself in the mirror without recognizing this apprehended guise as himself, instead only seeing that this guise has the property of F-illness, and declaring to the supposed person he perceives, “You are F.” In this case we see that only the execution of the indexical reference “I” would successfully “harpoon” Gaskon’s I-guise, because he has just-cause to use second-person indexicals to refer to his own image, which do reflexively harpoon his I-guise. However, if he were to express statements correctly using “I,” such as “I see that you have F,” then his indexical “I” successfully harpoons himself as the one doing the seeing, even if it does not refer to himself as also the one being seen.

Castañeda then addresses the possible criticism that these examples do not deal with true self-perception, because Gaskon sees his reflection and not his actual self. In response, Castañeda offers another thought experiment: future technology allows people to obtain a visual vantage-point placed externally to – and directed toward – their own bodies, in such a way that one may see oneself as though from another person’s visual perspective. Certain factors can move the location of this vantage-point, for example, certain foods one has digested (72). Gaskon makes use of this technology by positioning his visual vantage-point at his left side and pointing it toward his body, while sitting before a circular table in a symmetrical room. He falls asleep (and let’s presume he has just eaten a perspective-altering food), and while asleep he develops a rash on his forehead; also, his vantage-point switches over to the right side his body. When he awakes, he sees himself from this opposite perspective; yet, because he does not initially recognize himself, he declares, “This person (or, here is a self that) has a blister on his forehead.”[8] If we apply this example to similar cases, we can derive the above principles of irreducibility while still maintaining a strong criterion of identification. However, Castañeda believes such a strict criteria to be unnecessary anyway, because we normally make correct identifications from much more limited perceptions of objects, as for example recognizing someone merely by seeing her face or hearing her voice (73).

Likewise, we can discover the irreducibility of the indexical “I,” and its invariable reference to its proper I-guise, merely from certain exceptional propositions alone. Castañeda’s examples often involve people who do not yet know something about themselves, as was the case with Oedipus and Gaskon. Another such example he offers is of a millionaire who will soon learn that he has been promoted to the editorship of Soul,[9] replacing the bankrupt gentleman who hitherto held the position.[10] Thus he might rightfully say,

“I believe the Editor of Soul knows he is not a millionaire,”

because he does not yet know that he, a millionaire, is the Editor of Soul. The “I” successfully harpoons his I-guise; for, truly it is he himself who believes this. However, the equivalent nomination “Editor of Soul” does not successfully refer, because he has not yet consubstantiated this guise with his I-guise. Also, by substituting this logically-equivalent nomination for “I,” we derive the statement,

“The Editor of Soul believes he knows he is not a millionaire,”

which is logically false, because the true Editor knows and thus believes he is a millionaire. However, he also could rightfully utter this false statement, thinking he was referring to the prior editor. Thus we cannot always substitute logically-equivalent nominations for the “I” and consistently derive statements with the same truth-value. Moreover, when “I” substitutes its conflated nominations, we obtain:

“I believe that I know that I am not a millionaire,”

which is a statement that the Editor would not utter, and whose truth-value cannot be determined until it is uttered. Thus the “I” cannot always substitute for its logically-equivalent nominations.

The first-person indexical has only one guise it invariably harpoons – the I-guise uttering “I” – and the I-guise can only be invariable harpooned by one index – the “I” that it utters. Thus in its execution, the first-person indexical “picks out” a “self qua self” (The Phenomeno-Logic of the I 90).

We should note briefly the role of the “qua itself” or “as itself.” Castañeda explains that something “conceived as in some way or other” is a gross individual guise, which he formulates as:

An ordered pair (x,G) where x is conceived as, qua, the G. (221-222)

When someone correctly uses the first-person pronoun, one references oneself qua oneself, that is, one invariably indexes one’s own empirical gross I-guise (222).

This guarantee of the referential reliability of first-person reference helps explain why the statement “I do not exist now” is self-contradictory. On account of the executive function of the first-person reference, there cannot be such a person who makes this statement: an existing person saying it contradicts the fact of her existence; she does not index her I-guise. Moreover, there can never be an instance of a truthful declaration of this sentence in which the “I” of the statement harpoons its empirical I-guise, because such a pronunciation would require a non-existing person to exist in order to execute the utterance (90).

Now having established the guarantee that the execution of the first-person indexical successfully harpoons the self who utters it, we will now see how a transcendental selfhood and transcendental world follow from this principle.

Castañeda maintains what he calls a Minimal Transcendental Realist perspective, and makes use of Kant’s transcendental I think and Descartes’ radical doubt to articulate his unique ontology. An Evil Demon may deceive us into believing anything except: 1) that I think, and 2) that these thoughts are real; because even the act of doubt is a thought, and from the I think of this doubt (or the I think not, if you will), we may know that I exist as the one who is thinking. Castañeda explains that we may conceive all the alleged truths regarding the external world as a set or whole, which he calls “The Balloon” (The Phenomeno-Logic of the I 214), following “the convention of portraying the thoughts of characters in comics with sentences printed in a white bubble or balloon” (Hart “Castañeda” 19). We may doubt the alleged worldly truths of the Balloon, even altogether;

I think that (The Balloon) [is false],

yet, by doing so, we have affixed a transcendental prefix, “I think that,” which is akin to Kant’s principle of the transcendental I-think: “It must be possible for the ‘I think’ to accompany all my representations” (Kant Critique of Pure Reason B131, qt in Castañeda Phenomeno-Logic of the I 214). The components of the transcendental prefix are the transcendental Thinking I and the transcendental Think, which both “reach metaphysical ‘rock bottom.’” What exists in The Balloon might be a fiction, but “I exist thinking The Balloon or parts thereof” is no fiction whatsoever. Hence his principle:

(mTR*) There is a minimal transcendent dimension of experience underlying what is thought through the transcendental Thinking I. (215)

This transcendental I is not internal to The Balloon; yet, it does not go beyond the experience of The Balloon either; for, to think what is in The Balloon is to have a thinking experience with it. Castañeda follows Kant’s distinction between the transcendental and the transcendent: the I transcends The Balloon minimally, because it must be outside The Balloon to think it, thereby qualifying it as “transcendental;” however, it cannot be totally disconnected from – and thus transcendent to – The Balloon, for otherwise the thinking-I could not have the experience of thinking The Balloon. On account of this minimal transcendence of thought, we may think about our empirical embodiments without always thinking them as our own, which we saw in the Oedipus, Gaskon, and Editor examples: in order for one to initially think “I am not the so-and-so,” and then later learn that one is, there must be a transcendental I who either consubstantiates its empirical I-guises with itself, or does not do so.

The thinking that thinks The Balloon has two transcendental sources on opposite ends of a two-directional dimension of ontological dependences: on the one end is the world of real things, which only appear to us through guises; and we presume that the real entities exist as the sources for the guises we confront. Thus they transcend our thoughts and perceptions. On the other end of the dimension is non-reflexive thinking that serves as the transcendental source for the thinking of the I (216). On account of their transcendences, both of these ontological sources are unknowable; however, Castañeda offers an explanation for why he thinks they must exist.

His defense of the physical world as the ontological “ground floor” of The Balloon is that even if we are deceived about (all or some of) the facts in the world, and even if (all or some of) our perceptions are hallucinations, we still would try to sort-out which thoughts and perceptions are veridical and which are not. Underlying this effort would be our “deeply seated taking it for granted that there is beyond a noumenon,” which is somehow responsible for our having perceptions, veridical or not, and for the content of those perceptions (219). And if we are deceived by the Evil Demon, we may still presume that the Demon has a noumenal existence, for otherwise it would not be real, and thus would not have been able to deceive us in the first place. Hence, we may know that there is a transcendental noumenal ground for the empirical I-guises in The Balloon, and that they are invariably harpooned by correct uses of the first-person indexical.

Likewise, we may know that the “I” in transcendental prefixation in thinking acts, in the

(1) I Think that (The Balloon),

points us to a transcendental self (222). This is because when we think of proposition 1, we are thinking of ourselves as without The Balloon. However, this transcendental without is not a transcendent without, because when we think 1, we apprehend the I-Thinking-that as being at The Balloon’s boundary, but by thinking it we have also internalized it within a larger Balloon:

(2) I Think that {I think that (The Balloon)}

Thus when we think of our thinking The Balloon, we have created the larger Balloon, {I think that (The Balloon)}.

What is crucial to Castañeda's notion of the transcendental self is his claim that this expansive ballooning process is “iterative with no end:”

This iterativity makes it clear that the Thinking I is already in (1) a Thought-of I. In a sense, then, the true Thinking I is the unthought of I, which thinks (1), or (2), or any other more encompassing proposition of this sort. The iterative embodying of (1) or its successors in a more encompassing Extended Balloon merely introduces another thought-of I, thus, revealing by adumbration a semi-internalistic, inexhaustible reservoir of Thinking I’s of it which Thinking-Thought-of I’s can be extracted. Let us call that inexhaustible reservoir the transcendental I. (222)

This transcendental I is consubstantially the same as the Thinking-Thought-of I whom it thinks, and is also that which “underlies from beyond experience its thinking a Balloon,” which he calls the transcendental self (223). Hence, the infinitely iterable chain of Thinking-Thought-of I’s “have the unity of one and the same underlying unthought-of transcendental self” (223).

Likewise, each empirical I-guise within The Balloon is consubstantially the same with an empirical self; and as well, each empirical I-guise in The Balloon is consubstantially the same as each transcendental I corresponding to it (223). Thus, each transcendental self is the ‘same’ as its empirical self (223).

Moreover, each utterance of the first-person indexical “I” strictly denotes the empirical I-guise being thought of, and mediately denotes the transcendental I thinking it (224). Hence, we can see how the execution of the first-person indexical links the transcendental self with the empirical self, both of which are minimally transcendent to our experiences.

Of course, one might object that the supposed infinite iteration of thinking-thought-of I’s terminates, or originates, in a self-reflexively self-thinking thought. Castañeda rejects this as being absurd, and holds instead that there is a hierarchical structure of reflective thinking: episodes of reflective thinking 1) rest on episodes of non-reflective thinking, and 2) do not engender reflective thinking upon themselves (Thinking, Language, & Experience 65). The claim that there is self-reflexive thought would be viciously circular: to ground thought in self-reflective thinking is to say that self-consciousness is presupposed for consciousness, but self-consciousness also presupposes consciousness, for else it would not itself be an act of consciousness to begin with.

The first of James Hart’s two recent seminar presentations at the Husserl Archives of Leuven, “The Uniqueness of the Transcendental I,” makes use of Castañeda's notion that the first-person pronoun “I” refers to “myself as myself,” without also assigning any properties to myself (Hart “Uniqueness”). This sort of selfhood, he seems to suggest, is not reducible to the properties of its empirical embodiment. The second presentation, “The Beginninglessness and the Endlessness of the Transcendental I,” examines the way Husserl’s notion of the now-consciousness’ flowing protentional and retentional horizons suggest that there is a “whiling” I that has neither begun nor will ever end (“Transcendental I”). However, for Castañeda, the first-person indexical refers primarily to a transcendental I-guise; and, the transcendental self that provides the metaphysical ground for thought is non-reflexive and non-reflective. Thus, Castañeda's transcendental self is not something that is qua itself, because it cannot be consubstantiated with (taken as) itself to begin with; for, these relations can only hold between guises. If one were to make use of Castañeda's notion of the transcendental I that is implied in first-person indexicals, while also utilizing Husserl’s immortality of the transcendental ego, then the sort of immortal selfhood that might result could neither think about itself nor relate to itself, nor even perceive anything else; because, after its death it is “bereft of worldly hyle” (Hart “Transcendental I”). If this immortal ego is neither self-conscious nor aware of an embodiment of itself, then I wonder how we can still consider it to be one’s “own,” when neither itself nor anything else may be made available to it for it to own.[11]

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[1] Consider Frege’s famous example of the planet Venus as the referent, with “morning star” and “evening star” as two different senses for it.

[2] The text from which this passage is taken, Thinking, Language, & Experience, happens to have red covers.

[3] It not clear how Castañeda would like us to understand these tails, yet I imagine they could be the objects’ orientational relations to us and among themselves, resulting from the specific way we happen to be confronting them. In this sense, to perceive a field of objects is to also be “pointed-to” each of them in a different way, which provides the bases for our using demonstrative terms to single out and reference items by indexing them.

[4] I presume this term means: “Coherence in one body, union, combination.” OED def.6.

[5] May I thank Geert Gooskens for suggesting this illustrative parallel.

[6] In his introduction to The Phenomeno-Logic of the I, James Hart suggests we might explore similar Husserlian issues in Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis (Hart “Castañeda” 25); and in his review of that text, he remarks that Husserl’s notion that “one I’s immanent time can never go unfilled or have gaps” corresponds to Castañeda’s view that even the amnesiac’s self-reference cannot fail, even without her knowing who she is (“Review” 151).

[7] Here Castañeda insists that Gaskon pronounce this statement aloud, presumably to emphasize that it is being executed. However, if he were to make the statement, then he would also see that the image in the mirror does the same. This may not necessarily be a problem, because he can still, in his state of horrified shock and confusion, somehow think that this is another person who simultaneously makes the same declaration; and, because Gaskon dies immediately (perhaps either from the shock or illness), he never has the chance to reflect on the event and come to the more sensible conclusion that he is looking at himself in a mirror.

[8] I am a bit confused that he would not notice the vantage reversal. Even though the room is symmetrical and thus would appear the same from either side, I would think that this opposite vantage-point would invert the orientation of the objects in the room: when in the first case he would see himself pointed to the left, in the second I would think him to be pointed to the right side of his visual field. Of course, we can also imagine that both the vantage-point changed, and also the visual field inverted from side-to-side as well.

[9] Castañeda was the editor of Noûs.

[10] For brevity we alter some details of his example.

[11] Of course, without having read the book, I cannot really know if the Castañeda material we addressed is relevant, or if even Hart makes use of his ideas in the text. Hopefully even in the worst case, our exposition gives a helpful account of the principles underlying Castañeda's intriguing and complex philosophy of transcendental selfhood.

Works Cited

Béziau, Jean-Yves. “Quine on Identity.” Principia 7 (1-2), Florianópolis, June/December 2003, pp. 1-15.

Burks, Arthur W. “Icon, Index, and Symbol.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 9, No. 4. Jun., 1949, pp. 673-689.

Castañeda, Hector-Neri. “Identity and Sameness.” Philosophia Vol. 5 Nos. 1-2, January-April 1975, pp.121-150.

Castañeda, Hector-Neri. The Phenomeno-Logic of the I: Essays on Self-Consciousness. Eds James G. Hart and Tomis Kapitan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

Castañeda, Hector-Neri. “The Self and Its Guises.” Noûs, Vol. 17, No. 1, 1983 A. P. A. Western Division Meetings. Mar., 1983, pp. 60-62.

Castañeda, Hector-Neri. Thinking, Language, and Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Hart, James G. “The Beginninglessness and the Endlessness of the Transcendental I.” Husserl Archives, Leuven. 14-Nov-2007.

Hart, James G. “Castañeda: A Continental Philosophical Guise.” in Castañeda, The Phenomeno-Logic of the I: Essays on Self-Consciousness. Eds James G. Hart and Tomis Kapitan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

Hart, James G. “Review of Edmund Husserl’s Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis.” in Husserl Studies 20. 2004, pp.135-159.

Hart, James G. “The Uniqueness of the Transcendental I.” Husserl Archives, Leuven. 13-Nov-2007.

Moser, Anna Aloisia. “Language Idling and Language in Use: Wittgenstein on Following Rules.” The 25th International Wittgenstein Symposium of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (ALWS): Austria, 2002.

Quine, W. V. O. Word and Object. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1960. qt in Béziau.

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