When Robert and I first thought about starting this blog, the purpose, as we saw it, was to keep a running record of our adventures in translation. While that is still a project in which we are engaged—our mission being to translate as much Mexican philosophy as we can, while we can—the purpose of the blog has changed some. We now want it to serve as a platform for anything “Mexican philosophy.”
Why Mexican philosophy?
I’ve spent a good part of my post-Dissertation energy reading and thinking about Mexican philosophers and their ideas. At first, I was merely curious. A “phenomenology” of relajo? The balls!! Having recently written a dissertation on Husserl, the thought that a Mexican “philosopher” had written a phenomenology about something he considered particularly Mexican in Spanish seemed to me, at the time, like an audacious and subversive act. Portilla had taken Husserl’s pristine, pure, phenomenology and bent it to his will; I imagined Husserl turning in his contingent grave. In that work, Portilla re-buries Husserl in a footnote and forgets him. I was no longer curious, I was inspired.
Then came Uranga, and Villoro, and Zea. And with every sentence, while carrying the realization that my Spanish was embarrassingly insufficient for quick reading and quicker thinking, the recognition of a radical absence of Mexican philosophy in English inspired me further.
Robert was having similar thoughts and similar experiences. In April of this year, he called a meeting at The College of William & Mary. And with other like-minded folks, we pledged to do something about the absence that bothered us. This blog was a result of that “something.” So we’ve posted thoughts and ideas, the beginnings of projects, and recently a discussion on Memo Hurtado’s fantastic essay. In addition, I’ve completed a manuscript on Mexican existentialism (currently occupying megabytes in some Reviewer’s Cloud). Robert is about to go on a hunting expedition to the libraries in Mexico City where he’ll try to capture some essential work that might be deemed worthy of translation and publication by a reluctant US academic press.
As the year ends, I’ve begun to think about the work ahead and the reasons why we should undertake it….here’s my reason:
It is valuable work. In the work of the Mexican philosophers of the mid-20th century, for instance, we encounter a passionate attempt to do philosophy and to be philosophers despite the limitations of history, colonialism, and geopolitical relevance. In their efforts to produce, or reproduce, philosophy sin más, they could not escape their grounding, their circumstance, that history, colonialism, or limitations. The themes they chose to focus on, e.g., mexicanidad, insulted the hegemony of universalizing philosophy. So what we read is philosophy in a different voice, borne of the struggle against and with the “white mythology” of Western philosophy.
Purists, guardians of the Western philosophical tradition, will not help but question the authenticity of a “Mexican” philosophy, will not help but question the credentials of such philosophy on a priori grounds, and might want to demand my philosophical passport or seek to deport Robert and I from the academy for not doing more metaphysics and analytic epistemology—because we always need more of that! And I would probably go willingly, if I didn’t think that this work was work that needed to be done, if only because, as a whole, it is a lesson in courage, resistance, and hope.