The Autobiographical Consciousness [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 26 (4):751-751 (1973)

Abstract
This provocative book provides a stimulating study of the self that is somewhat reminiscent of Husserl’s transcendental ego. But for Earle the ego is absolute and infinite, yet so unique and singular that it precludes any descriptive analysis in terms of a universal structure. As the primary and absolute source of objectification the ego is opposed to these "others" to which something "happens" as the necessary is opposed to the contingent. The realm of happening is the realm of existence, and the ego as the constitutive agent of objects and their meanings transcends this world, and in this sense is non-existent. Yet it is, and its mode of being is "eternity." Paradoxically, the self is both absolute and independent, but so relatively dependent on others for its fulfillment that it can only realize itself as a person on the level of intersubjectivity and most significantly in transcendental love. Earle remains insistent on the incommunicability and singularity of the I and maintains that if there is no common nature in which the I partakes neither is there any universal or abstract moral ought. Value is transcendentally grounded and is what I choose it to be and what I decide ought to be. There are some valuable critical accounts found in this work on Husserl, Sartre, and a very fine in depth refutation of James’ theory of memory. For Earle memory is the one essential way for the transcendental ego to preserve itself "amid the distraction and chaos of its chosen existence." The last two chapters are devoted to a phenomenology of horror and death, and although it is somewhat unrelated to the main topic it does make interesting reading. The book is replete with rich material for critical thinking and offers a challenge to investigate the self from a new and what may appear to some a radical approach. An index facilitates the reading.—K. R. M.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph197326478
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