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Home arrow Economics arrow Contingency and commitment : Mexican existentialism and the place of philosophy
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Generosity

Uranga sees the way out of the existential refusal to participate in the creative process of life in “generosity.” The will to generosity is the antithesis of a will to nothingness. Generosity is “a decided choice to collaborate, a will to sympathize, of a being in a caring contact with things, with history, with social movements” (2013b, 116). This is Uranga’s generosity-narrative, and it emphasizes togetherness and cooperation to fulfill a common vision. Against, or in spite of, an established historical narrative that situates Mexican existence in a fractured history, replete with violence, colonization, and death, the narrative of generosity appeals to the recognition of insufficiency and accidentality and, on these terms, calls for the hard project of building community and solidarity that in its difficulty affirms the values of difference and contingency.

Philosophy as autognosis is not meant merely to produce an inventory of character traits that impede individual or communal flourishing. The point of philosophically questioning a manner of being is to reveal and highlight and, from there, motivate confrontation and overcoming. Generosity is such a confrontation and the way to such overcoming. Ura- nga’s call to action is thus a call for generosity, which is manifested in acts of dialogue, of writing, and of reading. The call is an invitation to challenge harmful and pernicious narratives while proposing that generosity, or a narrative that promotes generosity as an unconditional openness to the other and the other’s future, is better suited for the successful consummation of projects that benefit concrete historical communities. Thus, the project of Hiperion, according to Uranga, is nothing less than “an invitation to a common life that one group of Mexicans proposes to all other Mexicans so that they may realize it together” (1951, 128).

Philosophy itself becomes generous when it opens itself to our fini- tude and contingency, when it welcomes finite human beings to think of themselves through it. In generosity, it manifests itself as situated, committed, and passionate thinking. In generosity, philosophy is already an act of liberation. The philosopher’s generosity, in turn, plays itself out in acts of giving: not giving to fulfill immediate needs, but a giving that sets a course, or teaches a future to be had. The project of saving the circumstance will thus require generosity. Uranga recognizes that the philosopher’s gift will have to be the proposal of a means to that project. He writes: “Being saved means that we wait for someone to give us something that we lack, that will fulfill us with an act, with something given [gegeben]; but being liberated does not wait for a given, or for being fulfilled by a given, but simply, by something proposed [aufgege- ben], by a task, a mission, a destiny to be realized” (1952, 61). We read Uranga’s basic insight here to be this: the salvation of our circumstance lies in the articulation of common vision that is our own and not given or imposed from elsewhere. We should add that this vision, once articulated philosophically, will involve a conscious recognition (a radical regathering) of our accidental and contingent being. This assumption or gathering of our brute existence is necessary, moreover, for the sake of authenticity. The narrative that articulates our vision must not be fictional or spectacular, as had been the Western narrative of substantiality and universality.

With a generous spirit, the period of being saved by spectacles is over. The period of being liberated by one’s self begins with the revelation of our human limitations, which, Uranga (perhaps naively, but courageously) believed, would place Mexicans within “the great currents of humanity,” which meant that Mexicans would be accepted, even if reluctantly, into the great human community, membership into which had been denied for almost half a millennium. As Uranga puts it: “When one speaks of searching for the being of the Mexican, in reality what we want is to take hold . . . of a confluence or ontological knot, an avenue that will place us in a certain relation with the great currents of humanity” (1952, 34).

 
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