CASTANEDA, Hector-Neri (1924–1991)

In John R. Shook (ed.), The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960. Thoemmes Press (2005)
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H´ector-Neri Casta˜neda-Calder´on (December 13, 1924–September 7, 1991) was born in San Vicente Zacapa, Guatemala. He attended the Normal School for Boys in Guatemala City, later called the Military Normal School for Boys, from which he was expelled for refusing to fight a bully; the dramatic story, worthy of being filmed, is told in the “De Re” section of his autobiography, “Self-Profile” (1986). He then attended a normal school in Costa Rica, followed by studies in philosophy at the University of San Carlos, Guatemala. He won a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where he received his B.A. (1950), M.A. (1952), and Ph.D. (1954), all in philosophy. His dissertation, “The Logical Structure of Moral Reasoning”, was written under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars. He returned to teach in Guatemala, and then received a scholarship to study at Oxford University (1955–1956), after which he took a sabbatical-replacement position in philosophy at Duke University (1956). His first full-time academic appointment was at Wayne State University (1957– 1969), where he founded the philosophy journal Noˆus (1967, a counter-offer made to him by Wayne State to encourage him to stay there rather than to take the chairmanship of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania). In 1969, he moved (along with several of his Wayne colleagues) to Indiana University, where he eventually became the Mahlon Powell Professor of Philosophy and, later, its first Dean of Latino Affairs (1978–1981). He remained at Indiana until his death. He was also a visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin (1962–1963) and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1981–1982). He received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (1967–1968), the T. Andrew Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation. He was elected President of the American Philosophical Association Central Division (1979– 1980), named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1990), and received the Presidential Medal of Honor from the Government of Guatemala (1991). Casta˜neda’s philosophical interests spanned virtually the entire spectrum of philosophy, and his theories form a highly interconnected whole..

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