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On Identity


Reflection on the past and present notice an inundation of phenomena. Out of this deluge a thing will come to stand out. So reflection notices individualization, when something stands out as a separate thing from everything else. Reflection goes on to notice that after a thing has been individualized, the thing can come to have an identity, that is, it can come to be viewed as a distinct individual thing with an idea of why it is distinct. Finally, an identity is established, the thing is viewed as being a distinct individual thing, with some idea about why it is distinct, that is capable of being revisited.

When an individualized thing is present it can fade back into the background soup, it can come to have an identity, or it can be identified. If it is identified it is asserted to be the same distinct individual thing as something with an already established identity. This process focuses on the present thing and asserts that it is the same thing as something else, like a phenomenon, an idea, what a sign refers to, etc. To say that it is the same thing is to take that object as having some type of consistency in its being, a temporary permanence, an objective presence. But to do this it takes two different phenomenal things, and takes them as being one thing, perfectly similar in all respects, indistinguishable in any way conceivable, from an "outside" perspective.

If I see a chair in my room and identify it as the chair that was there yesterday, 2+2=4, or if I simply assert "truth is truth", there are at least two parts that are being identified, and could be more if I extend it. For simplicity's sake I will term either one of them "identifyee 1", "identifyee 2", and so on for any other identifyees. The identifyees are asserted to be the same one thing, despite their differences in phenomenal presentation or referential signs. This same one thing is what is pointed at. This clearly makes use of a notion of reality.

One can see that identity makes use of assertion, reality, and it has the pointer and the phenomenon of pointing, so an assertion of identity is capable of having a truth value.

Let's take an example of when I see a chair in my room and I identify it as the chair that was there yesterday. When I consider an assertion of identity like this, reflection finds I don't have a thought of the chair as I see it today being identical with the chair as I saw it yesterday. Those are two different phenomenal presentations with different relations to the whole world. They are not identical. What is being identified is the one thing in reality (the one transcendental entity) as being subjectively presented to me in different ways. Just as was mentioned in the page on truth, it is part of my very understanding of truth that the phenomenon that is the pointer is seen as being as similar as possible to the pointed at in reality, recognizing the limits of each things' type, not identifying the two of them.

Needs further development: I did not need to consciously recognize the chair yesterday for me to identify the chair I see today as being the same chair. There is also unconscious identification and a perfunctory identification that happens without an assertion.

The key point I want to highlight is that identity has at least two sides, and it points at reality. I will deal later with identity as it relates to metaphysics.

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