Cover Page


About the Editors




Part I Historical Perspectives

1 Pre-Columbian Philosophies

Contact-Period Indigenous Andean Philosophy

Contact-Era Aztec or Nahua Philosophy


2 The Rights of the American Indians


Las Casas

3 Colonial Thought

I. The Institutional History of Colonial Philosophy

II. The Conquest of America: Some Epistemological and Ethical Questions

III. Post Conquest Indigenous Perspectives

IV. Creole Perspectives: Two Seventeenth-Century Intellectuals

V. The American Experience of the Enlightenment


4 The Emergence and Transformation of Positivism

European Positivism through a Latin American Lens

Latin American Positivism

Latin American Positivism Compared

The Legacy of Nineteenth-Century Positivism in Latin America

5 Early Critics of Positivism

European Positivism

Latin American Positivism



Vaz Ferreira


6 The Anti-Positivist Movement in Mexico

1. The Origins of the Ateneo de la Juventud

2. The Lectures at the Ateneo de la Juventud

3. The Ateneo de la Juventud and the Mexican Revolution

7 Darwinism

Continuity and Discontinuity in Darwinism

Darwinism in Latin America

Spanish American Anti-Materialism

The Materialism of Euclides da Cunha

8 Krausism

The Philosophical Context in Jena around 1800

A Metaphysics of Freedom

Analytic and Synthetic Philosophy

Metaphysics of Humanity

Socioeconomic Philosophy

The Natural World

Harmonious Freedom

Krause’s Philosophy in Spain

Ideal de la humanidad (the ideal of humanity)

Latin American Reception


9 ‘Normal’ Philosophy

Alejandro Korn (1860–1936)

Alejandro Octavio Deústua (1849–1945)

Enrique Molina (1871–1964)

José Gaos (1900–69) and José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955)

Leopoldo Zea (1912–2004)

Samuel Ramos (1897–1959)

Francisco Romero (1891–1962)

Concluding Remarks

10 Ortega y Gasset’s Heritage in Latin America

I. Ortega’s Thought and the Spanish Philosophical Emigration to Latin America

II. Ortega’s Influence in Latin America

11 Phenomenology

Introduction: From Continental Europe to Latin America

The First Generation

The Second Half of the Twentieth Century


12 Marxism





13 Liberation Philosophy


Arturo Andrés Roig (b. 1922)

Ignacio Ellacuría (1930–89)

Ofelia Schutte (b. 1945)


14 Analytic Philosophy




The Southern Cone

The Northern Part of South America and Central America


Part II Current Issues

15 Paraconsistent Logic


Paraconsistent Logic and Latin America

Thinking about Logic

The Nature of Paraconsistent Logic

A History of Paraconsistent Logic

Philosophical Aspects of Paraconsistent Logic

16 Language and Colonization

17 Ethnic-Group Terms

Names or Predicates?

The Semantics of Ethnic-Group Terms

Nihilism about Ethnic-Group Terms

The Political Pragmatics of Ethnic-Group Terms

18 Identity and Latin American Philosophy


Identity of Latin American Philosophy

Four Approaches

History of the Controversy


19 Latinos on Race and Ethnicity: Alcoff, Corlett, and Gracia




20 Mestizaje and Hispanic Identity

Vasconcelos and Essentialist Conceptions of Mestizaje

Gloria Anzaldúa: The New Mestizaje

María Lugones: Mestizaje and Hybridity

The New Mestizaje and Race

Mestizaje and Pan-Hispanic Identity

21 Liberation in Theology, Philosophy, and Pedagogy

Liberation Theology

Philosophy of Liberation

Pedagogy of the Oppressed


22 Philosophy, Postcoloniality, and Postmodernity

Latin American Subaltern Studies

Post-Occidentalism and Border Gnosis

Cultural Criticism

Concluding Thoughts

23 Globalization and Latin American Thought

Philosophical and Scientific Approaches to Globalization in Latin America and Abroad

The Philosophy of Liberation, Globalization, and Oppression

The Philosophy of Liberation, Globalization, and Interculturalism

Globalization, Philosophy, the Other Humanities, and the Sciences in Latin America

A Working Characterization of Globalization

Amazonian Development and Its Socio-Ecological Consequences

Dealing with Globalization Issues in Latin America

Virtues and Limits of Legislation

Beyond Tunnel-Vision Approaches

Civic Sector Partnerships

Part III Disciplinary Developments

24 Latin American Philosophy

1. The Question of Whether There Is a Latin American Philosophy

2. Is There Philosophy in Latin America?

25 Contemporary Ethics and Political Philosophy

Metaethics: The Foundations of Moral Values and Norms

Normative Principles: Human Rights and Democracy

Applications: Bioethics and Multiculturalism


26 Philosophy of Science

1. Introduction

2. Argentina

3. Mexico

4. Brazil

5. Chile and Puerto Rico

6. Peru

7. Other Centers

8. Concluding Remarks

27 Philosophy and Latin American Literature

Metaphysics and Epistemology

Ethics and Politics

Aesthetic Worldviews

28 Feminist Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy in a Historical Context

Feminist Perspectives in Philosophy

Feminist Methodologies: Key Issues

New Orientations

29 Teaching Philosophy

1. Teaching Philosophy as an Academic Field

2. Conceptions of philosophy

3. Teaching Philosophy as Teaching a “Know How”

4. The Status of the Profession in Latin America

5. Some Models for Teaching Philosophy

6. Consequences of the Defense of the Critical Model

30 Cultural Studies

31 Deontic Logic and Legal Philosophy

I. Introduction

II. On Law and Morality

III. Legal Rights and Legal Principles

IV. Law and Legal Systems

V. Deontic Logic and Legal Philosophy

VI. Philosophical Doctrines in Latin America

VII. Conclusion

32 Metaphysics

Metaphysical Approaches

Metaphysical Problems

33 Epistemology

I. Introduction

II. Porchat Pereira and the Neo-Pyrrhonian School

III. Knowledge and Skepticism: The Legacy of Ezequiel de Olaso

IV. Luis Villoro and the Beginnings of Systematic Studies in Analytic Epistemology

V. Current Analytic Epistemology in Latin America


34 Formal Epistemology and Logic

Belief Revision in Latin America: The Legacy of Carlos Alchourrón

The AGM Approach

The Logic of Theory Change and Epistemology

What Is an Epistemic State?

Departures from AGM

Part IV Biographical Sketches

35 Some Great Figures

Acosta, José de (1539–1600)

Alberdi, Juan Bautista (1810–84)

Bello, Andrés (1781–1865)

Bilbao, Francisco (1823–65)

Bolívar, Simón (1783–1830)

Casas, Bartolomé de las (1484–1566)

Caso, Antonio (1883–1946)

Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la (1651–95)

da Costa, Newton Carneiro Affonso (b. 1929)

Dussel, Enrique (b. 1934)

Frondizi, Risieri (1910–83)

Gaos, José (1900–69)

González Prada, Manuel (1848–1918)

Gracia, Jorge J. E. (b. 1942)

Haya de la Torre, Victor Raúl (1895–1979)

Hostos, Eugenio María de (1839–1903)

Ingenieros, José (1877–1925)

Korn, Alejandro (1860–1936)

Lastarria, José Victorino (1817–88)

Lemos, Miguel (1854–1917)

Mariátegui, José Carlos (1895–1930)

Martí, José (1853–95)

Méndez Sierra, Justo (1848–1912)

Mora, José María Luis (1794–1850)

Miró Quesada, Francisco (b. 1918)

Rabossi, Eduardo (1930–2005)

Ramos, Samuel (1897–1959)

Rodó, José Enrique (1872–1917)

Romero, Francisco (1891–1962)

Sahagún, Fray Bernardino de (1499–1590)

Salazar Bondy, Augusto (1925–74)

Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino (1811–88)

Ofelia Schutte (b. 1945)

Sepúlveda, Juan Ginés de (ca. 1494–1573)

Torretti, Roberto (b. 1930)

Vasconcelos, José (1882–1959)

Vaz Ferreira, Carlos (1872–1958)

Villoro, Luis (b. 1922)

Vitoria, Francisco de (ca. 1483–1546)

Zea Aguilar, Leopoldo (1912–2004)


36 From Philosophy to Physics, and Back

1. Milieu

2. Philosophy or Physics?

3. Apprenticeship

4. Starting Research and Minerva

5. From Physics to Philosophy

6. Causality and Levels

7. Teaching


Books by Mario Bunge



Blackwell Companions to Philosophy

This outstanding student reference series offers a comprehensive and authoritative survey of philosophy as a whole. Written by today’s leading philosophers, each volume provides lucid and engaging coverage of the key figures, terms, topics, and problems of the field. Taken together, the volumes provide the ideal basis for course use, representing an unparalleled work of reference for students and specialists alike.

Already published in the series:

1. The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy, Second Edition
Edited by Nicholas Bunnin and Eric Tsui-James

2. A Companion to Ethics
Edited by Peter Singer

3. A Companion to Aesthetics, Second Edition
Edited by Stephen Davies, Kathleen Marie Higgins, Robert Hopkins, Robert Stecker, and David E. Cooper

4. A Companion to Epistemology, Second Edition
Edited by Jonathan Dancy, Ernest Sosa and Matthias Steup

5. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy (two-volume set), Second Edition
Edited by Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit

6. A Companion to Philosophy of Mind
Edited by Samuel Guttenplan

7. A Companion to Metaphysics, Second Edition
Edited by Jaegwon Kim, Ernest Sosa and Gary S. Rosenkrantz

8. A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, Second Edition
Edited by Dennis Patterson

9. A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Second Edition
Edited by Charles Taliaferro, Paul Draper, and Philip L. Quinn

10. A Companion to the Philosophy of Language
Edited by Bob Hale and Crispin Wright

11. A Companion to World Philosophies
Edited by Eliot Deutsch and Ron Bontekoe

12. A Companion to Continental Philosophy
Edited by Simon Critchley and William Schroeder

13. A Companion to Feminist Philosophy
Edited by Alison M. Jaggar and Iris Marion Young

14. A Companion to Cognitive Science
Edited by William Bechtel and George Graham

15. A Companion to Bioethics, Second Edition
Edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer

16. A Companion to the Philosophers
Edited by Robert L. Arrington

17. A Companion to Business Ethics
Edited by Robert E. Frederick

18. A Companion to the Philosophy of Science
Edited by W. H. Newton-Smith

19. A Companion to Environmental Philosophy
Edited by Dale Jamieson

20. A Companion to Analytic Philosophy
Edited by A. P. Martinich and David Sosa

21. A Companion to Genethics
Edited by Justine Burley and John Harris

22. A Companion to Philosophical Logic
Edited by Dale Jacquette

23. A Companion to Early Modern Philosophy
Edited by Steven Nadler

24. A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages
Edited by Jorge J. E. Gracia and Timothy B. Noone

25. A Companion to African-American Philosophy
Edited by Tommy L. Lott and John P. Pittman

26. A Companion to Applied Ethics
Edited by R. G. Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman

27. A Companion to the Philosophy of Education
Edited by Randall Curren

28. A Companion to African Philosophy
Edited by Kwasi Wiredu

29. A Companion to Heidegger
Edited by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Mark A. Wrathall

30. A Companion to Rationalism
Edited by Alan Nelson

31. A Companion to Pragmatism
Edited by John R. Shook and Joseph Margolis

32. A Companion to Ancient Philosophy
Edited by Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin

33. A Companion to Nietzsche
Edited by Keith Ansell Pearson

34. A Companion to Socrates
Edited by Sara Ahbel-Rappe and Rachana Kamtekar

35. A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism
Edited by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Mark A. Wrathall

36. A Companion to Kant
Edited by Graham Bird

37. A Companion to Plato
Edited by Hugh H. Benson

38. A Companion to Descartes
Edited by Janet Broughton and John Carriero

39. A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology
Edited by Sahotra Sarkar and Anya Plutynski

40. A Companion to Hume
Edited by Elizabeth S. Radcliffe

41. A Companion to the Philosophy of History and Historiography
Edited by Aviezer Tucker

42. A Companion to Aristotle
Edited by Georgios Anagnostopoulos

43. A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology
Edited by Jan-Kyrre Berg Olsen, Stig Andur Pedersen, and Vincent F. Hendricks

44. A Companion to Latin American Philosophy
Edited by Susana Nuccetelli, Ofelia Schutte, and Otávio Bueno

45. A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature
Edited by Garry L. Hagberg and Walter Jost

46. A Companion to the Philosophy of Action
Edited by Timothy O’Connor and Constantine Sandis

47. A Companion to Relativism
Edited by Steven D. Hales

48. A Companion to Hegel
Edited by Stephen Houlgate and Michael Baur

49. A Companion to Schopenhauer
Edited by Bart Vandenabeele

50. A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy
Edited by Steven M. Emmanuel

51. A Companion to Foucault
Edited by Christopher Falzon, Timothy O’Leary, and Jana Sawicki

52. A Companion to the Philosophy of Time
Edited by Heather Dyke and Adrian Bardon

About the Editors

Susana Nuccetelli is Professor of Philosophy at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota. Her articles on Latin American philosophy, ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of language have appeared in Analysis, the American Philosophical Quarterly, Metaphilosophy, Inquiry, and other journals. She is co-editor of Ethical Naturalism: Current Debates (2012), Themes from G. E. Moore: New Essays in Epistemology and Ethics (2007), Philosophy of Language: The Central Topics (2008), and Latin American Philosophy (2004); editor of New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge (2003); and single author of Latin American Thought: Philosophical Problems and Arguments (2002).

Ofelia Schutte is Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of South Florida, Tampa. She is the author of Cultural Identity and Social Liberation in Latin American Thought (1993), Beyond Nihilism: Nietzsche without Masks (1984), and numerous articles on feminist theory, Latin American thought, and continental philosophy. A former Fulbright Senior Research Fellow to Mexico, her work has appeared in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Journal of Social Philosophy, Philosophy Today, and The Philosophical Forum, among other journals and edited collections.

Otávio Bueno is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Miami, Florida. His work in philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of logic has been published in Noûs, Mind, Philosophy of Science, Synthese, Journal of Philosophical Logic, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Erkenntnis, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, and Analysis, among other journals and collections. He is editor-in-chief of Synthese.


Jesús H. Aguilar is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Arturo Arias is Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture at the University of Texas, Austin.

Horacio Arló-Costa is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Lawrence Blum is Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Otávio Bueno is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami.

Mario Bunge is Frothingham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at McGill University, Canada.

Bernardo J. Canteñs is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Moravian College.

Meri L. Clark is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Western New England College.

William F. Cooper is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University.

Alberto Cordero is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York (Graduate Center and Queens College).

Eleonora Cresto is Assistant Researcher at the CONICET (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research) Argentina.

Newton C. A. da Costa is Professor of Philosophy at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Nythamar de Oliveira is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Claus Dierksmeier is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Stonehill College.

María Luisa Femenías is Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina.

Eduardo Fermé is Associate Professor at the Mathematics and Engineering Department at the University of Madeira, Portugal.

David Ignatius Gandolfo is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Furman University.

Manuel Garrido was Professor of Logic and chair of the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid until his retirement in 1991.

Gregory D. Gilson is Assistant Professor at the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of Texas-Pan American.

María Cristina González is Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina.

Jorge J. E. Gracia is Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Chair in Philosophy at the University of Buffalo.

Guillermo Hurtado is chair and researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

A. Pablo Iannone is Professor of Philosophy at Central Connecticut State University.

Alex Levine is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida.

Renzo Llorente is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus.

James Maffie is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University.

Iván Márquez is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bentley University.

Oscar R. Martí is Associate Professor of Chicano Studies at California State University, Northridge.

Pablo Navarro is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahía Blanca, and Blas Pascal University, Argentina.

Adriana Novoa is Assistant Professor of Humanities and American Studies at the University of South Florida.

Susana Nuccetelli is Professor of Philosophy at St. Cloud State University.

Gustavo Ortiz-Millán is research-professor of philosophy at Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Gregory Fernando Pappas is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A & M University.

Diana I. Pérez is Professor of Metaphysics at the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Luis Fernando Restrepo is Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Eduardo Rivera-López is Associate Professor of Law and Philosophy at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina.

Ofelia Schutte is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida.

Liza Skidelsky is Senior Lecturer of Metaphysics at Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, and Associate Researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), Argentina.

Ilan Stavans is Lewis Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.

Roderick Stewart is Professor of Philosophy at Austin College.

Nora Stigol is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

Gregory Velazco y Trianosky is Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Northridge.


The three of us would like to acknowledge here the help of our editors at Wiley-Blackwell, Jeff Dean and Tiffany Mok – from whom we received judicious guidance and patient attention throughout the process of compiling this volume. We would also like to thank Dean Michael Halleran and Senior Associate Dean Perri Roberts from the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences for their support for the preparation of the index for this volume. Finally, we would like to thank the copyright holder of a selection by Miguel León-Portilla reproduced in chapter 1 (Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World, 1992, pp. 80, 83. Copyright © 1992 by the University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. Reproduced by the publisher’s permission).

Susana Nuccetelli is grateful to a number of people who have been helpful to her in her work on this collection. Above all, Gary Seay deserves thanks for his encouragement and advice throughout the project, without which she would not have been a co-editor of the project at all. She is also indebted to Stefan Baumrin, Jorge Gracia, and Ernest Sosa – all of whom offered insightful advice that resulted in a project much better than it would otherwise have been. Ilan Stavans should also be mentioned for his early advice on strategies for publication, as should Travis Sulander, Jordan Busse, and Reese Petersen for their skillful assistance at crucial points in the project.

Ofelia Schutte wishes to thank Roger Ariew, chair of the Philosophy Department, and her colleagues at the University of South Florida, Tampa, for their support of research and teaching in Latin American philosophy. She especially thanks her graduate students for their interest in the Latin American philosophy graduate seminar. She extends her deep appreciation to her friend, Carmen Diana Deere, who served as Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, Gainesville, during the period this manuscript was researched and assembled, for her interest in the project, and for facilitating her use of the outstanding Latin American Collection at UF’s Smathers Library. Finally, she thanks Richard Phillips, Head Librarian at the UF Latin American Collection, and the entire staff of the Collection, for their generous and enduring assistance.

Otávio Bueno wishes to thank all of his teachers at the University of São Paulo from whom he learned what philosophy is and how it is done in Latin America, with special thanks to José Chiappin, Newton da Costa, Andrea Loparic, Pablo Mariconda, Oswaldo Porchat Pereira, and Caetano Plastino. He also wants to thank all of his colleagues at the University of Miami for creating such a stimulating place to do philosophy, and for making Miami the special home it is. Finally, he wants to thank his wife, Patrícia Maragliano, for her unconditional support over so many years, for the joys she brings to life, and to Julia and Olivia for making sure that we all spend enough time under the sun.



Although there is increasing intellectual curiosity about Latin American philosophy, in the English-speaking world there is no easy access to comprehensive, yet up-to-date, materials on its developments – whether topical, historical, or disciplinary. We believe that the volume that we have put together will remedy this problem by making available to English-speaking readers, for the first time, a comprehensive collection of previously unpublished writings by leading experts in the field exploring such developments. Some of its chapters are designed to offer in-depth overviews representing current Latin American perspectives on topics such as globalization, human rights, women’s rights, language, race, and ethnic identity. Others aim at providing accurate discussions of either topics in the history of the discipline that are of interest today, or metaphilosophical questions about the sub-disciplines of philosophy that have flourished in Latin America. Each chapter has been newly commissioned on the basis of expertise in the philosophical tradition most appropriate to its content, independently of whether the scholar is working in one or another Latin American country, or elsewhere. The final product is a coherent volume addressing the central issues and arguments of Latin American philosophy, while preserving its diversity of voices and approaches.

The book is divided in four parts. Although there is unavoidable overlapping among the chapters that make these up, each part contains precisely those chapters that we have judged more relevant to its subject: namely, the history of Latin American philosophy and its movements (Part I), philosophical topics of special interest in the discipline now (Part II), recent developments in the sub-disciplines of philosophy in Latin America (Part III), and biographical information about some of Latin American philosophy’s great figures. For each of these parts, we envisioned chapters that would not only be illustrative of major lines of work but also qualify for being state-of-the-art, rigorous yet accessible to those unfamiliar with the discipline.

A close look at the volume would reveal that some chapters bear on philosophy in Latin America, others on a philosophy that is distinctively Latin American. But arguably, these two (not at all uncommon) construals are in fact compatible. And even when the expression ‘Latin American philosophy’ is ambiguous in at least these two ways, for most cases that semantic shortcoming can be eliminated by appealing to context. We expect that attentive readers will do so to avoid equivocation of the sort that often plagues debates about what, exactly, is Latin American philosophy. Readers interested in a distinctive Latin American philosophy are more likely to find that construal in Part II, some of whose chapters reflect on it explicitly. Those curious about philosophy in Latin America could more easily detect this construal in the chapters of Parts I and III.

As editors of this Companion, we have adopted a pluralistic view of the discipline also in some other ways. For example, besides philosophy itself, disciplines such as literature, history, politics, and the social sciences in Latin America are represented in the collection whenever there is evidence of their contribution to philosophical topics within the scope of this collection. In addition, we commissioned chapters written from a number of philosophical traditions such as continental philosophy, analytic philosophy, feminist theory, and liberation philosophy.

These remarks, together with the table of contents, make clear our criteria for organizing the chapters: historical in Part I (in chronological sequence), topical in Part II, metaphilosophical in Part III, and biographical in Part IV. In designing Part I, we faced one of the most pressing questions concerning the history of Latin American philosophy: When did it begin? Some have it that it was not until the so-called fundadores (founders) of the early twentieth century, often credited with initiating a ‘normal’ period of academic philosophy in the subcontinent. Others hold that philosophy began with the boom of nineteenth-century Latin American positivism. But such cuts, if not biased, seem at best arbitrary. After all, there is evidence pointing to scholastic philosophy devoted to topics raised during the Conquest and three centuries of colonial ruling that followed – which qualifies, at least topically, for being Latin American. Moreover, the Maya and other pre-Columbian peoples left well-preserved texts that attest their philosophical concerns – which can also be found in the writings of early travelers and missionaries. Thus, we decided to include discussions of these periods in Part I. The reader of these chapters, however, will find that historical issues there go beyond mere exegesis or history of ideas to enter into philosophical argumentation. In doing so, we expect that they will contribute to a deeper understanding not only of the history of the discipline but also of debates at the center of recent scholarship on topics such as whether the philosophical concerns of pre-Columbian cultures or the writings by Spanish philosophers about the morality of the Conquest could be considered part of Latin American philosophy at all.

Part II offers a set of diverse contributions to topics of current interest in Latin American philosophy. Some topics such as identity, colonization, and mestizaje have had a long trajectory of recognition in philosophical discussions, while others such as the nature of ethnic group terms, the impact of postmodern thought, and the thoughts of Latina/o philosophers on race and ethnicity have a more recent trajectory. In all cases these chapters provide current approaches to the analysis, interpretation, or critical evaluation of the selected topics. While they help to define certain logical or philosophical features of the topics in question, the arguments offered should be taken as open ended in terms of their potential for opening up further discussion and debate.

Colonization is most often studied and debated in historical, cultural, economic, or political terms. Less often, as our topics chapter does here, is it considered in terms of the emergence of new linguistic practices. What role did the Spanish language play in the context of colonization, it may be asked. What insights may the socio-linguistic features of such contemporary phenomena as Spanglish offer as a way of understanding the processes of colonization in the sixteenth century? The argument presented holds that there is still much to be known and assessed regarding indigenous speakers’ resistance to the official imposition of Spanish as the language of empire in the Americas.

With regard to identity, a major topic throughout the twentieth century and up to our own times has been what constitutes the identity of Latin American philosophy. The historiographical approach included here explains the central role the concept of identity has played in constituting the very notion of a Latin American philosophy. In addition to the traditional categories used in classifying how the identity of Latin American philosophy should be construed – that is, whether it should be regarded from a universalist, culturalist, or critical position, the more recent concept of Latin American philosophy as the philosophy of an ethnos is presented. In this view, what belongs to an ethnos should be understood in historical, not essentialist, terms and as subject to changing conditions.

One interesting feature of contemporary approaches to issues occupying a longstanding tradition in Latin American scholarship and philosophy is the incorporation of new perspectives resulting from recent debates in metaphysics and epistemology, for example, the critique of essentialism with regard to the positing of historical, cultural, ethnoracial, sexual, and other forms of identification and identity. Although the critique of essentialism is often associated with postmodern approaches to the concept of identity, its influence has ranged well beyond postmodernism as shown in the featured topics of identity and mestizaje in Part II. What is clear is that some of the old designators of identity such as the concept of mestizaje are subject to re-signification, partly due to the introduction of women writers who no longer theorize this concept from a masculine position, but also due to the experiences of Latinos whose experience contrasts significantly from that of many Latin Americans south of the border. As the entry in this section shows, the sense of dislocation experienced by many U.S. Latinos/as with regard to any single racial identity undermines the essentialist nature of older concepts of mestizaje.

Among the more recent topics of debate in Latin American philosophy we find the conversation between North American philosophers and Hispanic/Latino philosophers on the latter’s contrasting approaches to race and ethnicity, given that the topics of race and ethnicity have also drawn much recent attention among non-Hispanic philosophers in the United States. Here we include one view, regretfully limited (due to the size constraints of the volume) specifically to the analysis of three important contemporary Latino/a philosophers. In particular, attention is given to the questions of how to construe the meaning of race or ethnicity in view of claiming reparations for past (and present) discrimination, how to define the constitutive features of an ethnic group, and how to conceptualize the lived experiences of racialization in a racist society in such a way as to resist and transform the cultural and socioeconomic values undergirding racism.

Another central recent topic of philosophical debate addresses three sets of related questions: whether ethnic-group terms should be considered names or predicates; how and why the analyses by proponents of either view differ in defining the semantic properties of such terms; and the nature of some normative issues involved in the selection and use of ethnic-group terms. Yet another covers the introduction and development by a group of Brazilian logicians of a new kind of logic called ‘paraconsistent logic.’ This particular kind of logic has received international attention for its innovative outlook in dealing with various logical impasses pertaining to the topic of inconsistency as conceived by traditional logic. Its range of application encompasses problemsolving in philosophy, technology, physics, and mathematics.

The impact of social, economic, and political conditions in Latin America as the latter interact with socio-political philosophy and cultural theory has had a long trajectory of discussion in Latin American philosophy. The topics covered in Part II on this broad theme, however, are broadly contemporary. Among them is the question over the relevance in today’s world of a praxis of liberation (understood in the light of liberation theories introduced in Latin America since the late 1960s). We also cover an analysis of three influential theoretical movements especially prominent in the 1990s – subaltern studies, post-Occidentalism, and cultural criticism – associated with postmodern and postcolonial theory. These movements, whose influence is still operative today, problematize the links and intersections among philosophy, politics, and culture, including the politics of the production of knowledge about Latin America. Yet another central topic, globalization, demands a careful philosophical analysis, a sample of which we offer while also realizing the complexity of this topic and the multiple approaches that mark its analysis in today’s world. The perspective offered here proposes a multifaceted pragmatic approach – one substantively tied to democratic action and qualified by a degree of skepticism regarding the capacity of laws, institutions, and social agents to implement effective reforms.

Part III addresses some disciplinary developments in Latin American philosophy. The chapters in this part cover a wide range of issues where either a distinctive Latin American approach has been developed in a given sub-discipline of philosophy, or relevant work in such sub-discipline has been done in Latin America. Our goal in selecting which sub-disciplines to include has been guided by the attempt to cover developments that were particularly significant, although given the size constraint of the volume the selection clearly cannot be comprehensive. The result is a wide-ranging group of disciplinary developments ranging from how Latin American philosophy can be characterized through developments in traditional areas of philosophy (such as ethics and political philosophy, legal philosophy, philosophy of science, and epistemology) to issues in feminist philosophy, cultural studies, and the connections between philosophy and literature.

The picture that emerges from this work is one in which central philosophical topics are addressed, but often with a different, distinctive twist. Let us offer some illustrations. Since the beginning, the very nature of philosophy has been the source of philosophical investigation and controversy (consider, for example, longstanding discussions about the nature and possibility of metaphysics). It may come as no surprise then that, as mentioned above, since the beginning, the very nature of Latin American philosophy has been the source of philosophical investigation and controversy as well. What may be unexpected, however, is that in examining the latter issue, certain moves in philosophy of language become so prominent, as one disambiguates the question of the existence of Latin American philosophy.

In philosophy of science outside Latin America, two different traditions have emerged. On the one hand, formal approaches have been developed by exploring the resources provided by developments in logic and the foundations of mathematics. These approaches offer a clear formal framework to examine philosophical issues about science, but they tend to be highly idealized and pay very little or no attention to actual scientific practice. On the other hand, informal approaches, which tend to be very sensitive to the complexities of scientific practice, have also been devised. But they tend not to offer a formal framework to understand scientific reasoning, and have very little or no unity. Now, in Latin American philosophy of science, a combination of these two approaches has been articulated, integrating the expressive resources of a formal approach with the sensitivity to the details of scientific practice. A more unified approach has then emerged.

A similar sensitivity to practice is also found in certain approaches to philosophy of law in Latin America. In this case, rather than scientific practice, legal practice is the relevant focus. As opposed to traditional forms of legal positivism, some Latin American philosophers of law have argued that when legal officials, such as judges, justify decisions regarding legal rights their reasoning is often informed by moral considerations. Thus, the traditional conception of legal justification that emphasizes that this justification is established in court by invoking only legal norms and facts is rejected. Moral norms have a crucial role in legal justification, and on this anti-positivist conception, they inform the actual decision processes of legal officials.

When we consider the contributions to feminist philosophy in Latin America, we also find its distinctive character. Sensitivity to women’s concrete lives and their vulnerability to discrimination and oppression have been important features of feminist philosophy inside and outside Latin America. But in the case of Latin American women, both the debates on the relationship between theory and practice and the special complexities of race and ethnicity (e.g., the so-called mulata and Black population, and the original peoples) have transformed feminist theory in significant ways. The facts that some Latin American women have identified themselves as part of marginalized ethno-racial groups and that this identification has motivated them in their search for social justice become significant features that inform Latin American feminist philosophy, with its sensitivity to the historical and cultural specificities in which the understanding of race and ethnicity occurs in Latin America.

These are merely a few illustrations of ways in which disciplinary developments in Latin American philosophy have a distinctive character. As will become clear to readers, several additional cases are examined in this part of the volume.

But let us now turn to Part IV, which contains two chapters that we believe will be of interest to those unfamiliar with the figures of Latin American philosophy. An entirely biographical chapter may help reduce unfamiliarity with the lives and work of philosophers (broadly construed as to include early philosophical thinkers), while a chapter on the philosophical development of a prominent Latin American philosopher of science (Mario Bunge) may help reduce unfamiliarity about the reception of an important philosophical tradition in the subcontinent.

Needless to say, the selection criteria adopted for the biographical entries are far from being optimal. But as usual, considerations of space and consistency conflicted with more permissive standards that could have allowed us to include biographies of many others who no doubt deserve a place in the discipline. Our criteria for inclusion in the biographical chapter are these: for all figures, having done notable work on some of the major issues, movements, and/or disciplines that make up Latin American philosophy (in either of the above construals); second, for authors prior to 1900, being either philosophers or nonphilosopher essayists on philosophical topics; and third, for authors after 1900, being academic philosophers born prior to 1950 who either work in Latin America or write on Latin-American-related philosophical topics.

We hope that the volume contributes to the further development of Latin American philosophy among all those interested in this field.

Part I

Historical Perspectives


Pre-Columbian Philosophies


The indigenous peoples of what is now called “Latin America” enjoy long and rich traditions of philosophical inquiry dating back centuries before being characterized by their European “discoverers” as “primitives” incapable of or unmotivated to think philosophically. Pre-Columbian societies contained individuals who reflected critically and systematically upon the nature of reality, human existence, knowledge, right conduct, and goodness; individuals who puzzled over questions like “How should humans act?,” “What can humans know?,” and “What can humans hope for?” This chapter focuses upon the philosophies of Andean and Aztec societies, the two most prominent indigenous philosophies flourishing during the period of contact (i.e., of mutual encounter, interaction, exchange, and conflict between Europeans and indigenous peoples) in the sixteenth century.

Our understanding of Andean and Aztec philosophies is limited by the fact that we lack pre-contact primary sources written in their respective indigenous languages. Reconstructing pre-Columbian philosophies therefore involves triangulating from a variety of alternative sources. First, we have the ethnohistories of early indigenous, mestizo, and Spanish chroniclers. For Andean philosophy, these include the writings of Spaniards such as Pedro Cieza de Léon (1967), Juan de Betanzos (1996), and Bernabé Cobo (1990), and of indigenous Andeans such as Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (1936) and Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua (1873). For Aztec philosophy, these include the writings of Spanish missionaries such as Bernardino de Sahagún (1953–82), Diego Durán (1971, 1994), and Alonso de Molina (2001). Second, we have Andean quipus or knotted-strings that were used for recording information, and Aztec pictorial histories, ritual calendars, maps, and tribute records. Third, in both cases we have archaeological evidence such as architecture, statues, pottery, jewelry, tools, and human remains. Finally, we have contemporary ethnographies of relevant surviving indigenous peoples, e.g.: Classen (1993), Isbell (1978), Seibold (1992), and Urton (1981) in the case of Andean philosophy; Sandstrom (1991) and Knab (2004), in the case of Aztec.

Contact-Period Indigenous Andean Philosophy

Inca philosophers inherited a vibrant tradition of philosophical reflection from a long line of predecessors in the Andean region. The Inca empire (ca. 1400–1532) – called tahuantinsuyu (“the four parts together or unified”) in Quechua, the lingua franca of the Incas – was merely the last and best known in a series of pre-Columbian Andean cultures including Chavín and Paracas (900–200 BCE), Nazca and Moche (ca. 200 BCE–550 CE), Huari and Tiahuanaco (ca. 550–1000) and Chimú (ca. 1000–1400). There was no single, pan-Andean philosophy shared by all Andean peoples prior to the conquest, and therefore we must distinguish Inca from non-Inca Andean philosophies. “Non-Inca philosophy” refers broadly to the many provincial philosophical views of local ayllus – a Quechua word for a social unit bound together by kinship, lineage, ritual, territorial, political, and economic ties – and ethnic groups in the Andean region. “Inca philosophy” refers specifically to the philosophical views espoused by Inca amautas (singular, amauta), i.e., “sages,” “poet-philosophers,” “priests,” or “thinkers.” Inca philosophy drew upon a wealth of non-Inca Andean philosophical themes while at the same adapting these to Inca imperial purposes and circumstances.

Their many specific differences notwithstanding, Inca and non-Inca philosophies nevertheless shared in common several fundamental metaphysical themes regarding the nature of reality, human beings, and the interrelationships between human and nonhuman realms. These, in turn, set the stage for a shared vision of wisdom and ethics. I attribute these to Andean philosophy broadly construed and explore them below.

First, Andean philosophy claims that the cosmos along with all its contents is vivified or animated by a single life force (Cobo, 1990; Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua, 1873). In colonial-era documents, this life force is sometimes called camaquen or camac, other times, upani and amaya. Human beings, plants, mountains, water, wind, light, mummified human remains, textiles, and stone structures are infused with this force. It appears to be coextensive with existence as such. It is dynamic, flowing, and constantly circulating throughout the regions and inhabitants of the cosmos. Water, light, rainbows, and the human life–death cycle serve as conduits for its circulation and recycling.

This force also assumes the guise of interdependent, mutually arising, complementary dual forces: e.g., night/day, sun/moon, celestial/terrestrial, above/below, cultivated/uncultivated, insider/outsider, and life/death. Life and death, for example, are cyclically interrelated as well as mutually arising and mutually interdependent. The desiccated remains of the dead serve as seeds for new life. Andean dualities oppose one another but never exclude or contradict one another. Andeans conceived rainbows as doubleheaded serpents that physically embodied this complementary dualism. They regarded double-faced textiles, woven so as to display a single design on both sides but with colors reversed, as visually expressing the concept of a single reality assuming two guises or forms. Dualism also plays an important role in Quechua mathematics’ understanding of odd and even numbers as well as pairs of numbers. These dual forces are also gendered. Day, sun, celestial, above, and cultivated are male; night, moon, below, and uncultivated are female. Domestic, social, political, and economic relations are rooted in this metaphysics and accordingly conceived in dualistic, gendered terms. Invaders are male; original inhabitants, female. Tilling the soil is male; sowing seeds, female.

Andean dualities contribute jointly to a single, orderly whole. Indeed, the cosmos consists of the continuing alternation of these dualities. This process is governed by ayni, i.e., by relationships of reciprocity and mutual exchange. When dualities reciprocate equally and as a result coexist in equilibrium, the cosmos enjoys a pachaViracocha