Philosophy sin mas? Notes on the Value of Mexican Philosophy for Latino/a Life

And now I say to this jury of international thinkers before me: recognize the right to world citizenship that we have achieved. We have come of age. Very soon you will have to get used to dealing with us.

—Alfonso Reyes (1950, 41)

We have reached that historical and cultural age in which we commit ourselves to live in accordance with our own being and from there arises the imperative to clearly reveal [sacar en limpio] the morphology and dynamics of our being.

—Emilio Uranga (1952, 10)

Philosophy exists wherever thought brings men to an awareness of their existence.

—Karl Jaspers (1963, 3)


The following teachable lessons emerge from our readings into the readings and appropriations of Mexican existentialists of the mid-twentieth century.

  • 1. The IFAL conferences demonstrate the pervasiveness of violence when reading, especially when the text reveals its possibilities for appropriation and interpretation. A reader’s enfoque, a focus or purpose or biased perspective, emerges before such texts when a historical or existential situation demands it.
  • 2. Philosophical texts are occasions for thinking beyond. Porti- lla’s angst-ridden reflections on the crisis of modern reason were occasioned by his reading, and rejection, of Thomas Mann and Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • 3. A transformative philosophy will perpetually challenge its own assumptions; it will not stand still, or remain stable and dogmatic. The pendular movement of Mexican thought that brought it to its existentialist period and swiftly carried it beyond illustrates a philosophy in tension with itself.
  • 4. American philosophy, understood broadly to include the entirety of the American experience, challenges the Eurocentrism and Logocentrism of philosophy as traditionally understood. In the case of Dewey, Uranga, Zea, and los hiperiones, it takes the form of a “philosophy of contingency.”
  • 5. Finally, the appropriations of the Mexican existentialists reflect a final stage in the maturation of a situated thinking.

As the epigraphs above succinctly state: we have come of age.

For whom are these lessons “teachable lessons”? Prima facie, for every reader of philosophy and philosophy’s history. But in fact, that they are lessons gathered from readings and writings of Mexican philosophers will limit their appeal, and thus their teachability (more on this below). In this final chapter I propose that the lessons learned from our readings of and into Mexican existentialism can instruct and inform both or either a Latino/a liberatory consciousness and/or a Latino/a philosophy.

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