Philosophy Latin American Philosophy
by
Susana Nuccetelli
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0242

Introduction

Like Asian philosophy or European philosophy, Latin American philosophy comprises a great number of philosophical works, a wide range of problems and arguments in the many areas of philosophy, and numerous past and present philosophers representing different philosophical perspectives. Thus, perforce, an annotated bibliographic article on the field requires difficult selections on each of these counts. The selection criteria at work in each of the following sections will be explained in due course, but a central consideration has been the need to take into account contributions made, not only by academic but also by “nonacademic” philosophy. This mirrors Risieri Frondizi’s distinction between what may be characterized as narrow and broad conceptions of philosophy, which he described respectively as philosophy as such or practiced for its own sake, and philosophy as a means of achieving other nonphilosophical interests—whether these be political, literary, educational, etc. (see Risieri Frondizi’s “Is There an Ibero-American Philosophy?” in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 9.3 [Frondizi 1949], cited under Classic Works). It has often been pointed out that the corpus of original academic philosophy in Latin America is relatively recent and thin. Thus, to focus solely on it may foster a misleading skepticism about Latin American philosophy. On the other hand, nonacademic philosophy has been remarkably fruitful in Latin America, as can be seen in some of the works represented here. Making decisions about the scope of a bibliographic article on Latin American philosophy also raises the thorny question of origins. When did it begin? This should be broken down into two questions: one, about the origin of academic philosophy; the other, about the origin of nonacademic philosophy. Some academic philosophy, mostly connected with teaching, existed during the colonial period (roughly, from the beginning of the Iberian expansion to the Americas in 1492 to the first revolutions of independence in 1810). But, with a few exceptions, the philosophical production in this period lacks sufficient originality to merit citation—for the exceptions, bibliographical sources can be traced through general sources included here, such as Mauricio Beuchot’s History of Philosophy in Colonial Mexico (Beuchot 1998, cited under Narrow Approaches) and the Blackwell Companion to Latin American Philosophy (Nuccetelli, et al. 2009, cited under Edited Volumes). On the other hand, the issue of whether pre-Columbian cultures had anything that could be construed as philosophy in a narrow sense and the controversy over the rights of the Amerindians during the Iberian Conquest have indeed produced original philosophical literature, some of which is cited in this article.

General Sources

There are a great number of works eligible for classification as general works, for the interest in Latin American philosophy in Latin America itself and elsewhere is on the rise, especially since the beginning of the 21st century. But the need for reliable overviews of the field first began to be felt in the 1930s and 1940s, when the so-called fundadores (Founders) struggled to bring philosophy in Latin America into line with academic standards and practices then already common in European and North American philosophy. But, as can be seen in this article, collections of different kinds (anthologies, edited volumes, and reference works) vastly outnumber introductory articles and monographs. Be that as it may, to qualify for inclusion under this section, the works must be either classic in the literature or relatively current. In addition, if they are not general enough to provide a panorama of the field as a whole, they must offer an overview of a broad period or substantial issue of Latin American philosophy.

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