In his intellectual biography of Octavio Paz, Octavio Paz en su siglo (2014), Christopher Domínguez Michael, in his usual disparaging tone, calls the existential philosophy of el grupo Hiperion, “mexicanosofía,” “that failed attempt to give Mexican philosophy the backing of a thought that was fatally contemporaneous,” i.e., Heidegger’s and Sartre’s. Elsewhere, in an article from the mid-90s, “El existencialismo fue un relajo,” Domínguez Michael refers to that period in the history of philosophy “the most regrettable” episode in Mexican intellectual history. He has his reasons for being disparaging, of course, but they all have to do with his view that Mexican philosophers (especially the philosophers of the first half of the 20th century) have always been easily swayed by intellectual fads or easily impressed with foreign ideas. I disagree with him in many respects.
So he calls Mexican existentialism “mexicanosofía”–presumably as an underhanded insult. So what is “mexicanosofía”? Simply put, it is existentialism Mexican style! Articulated by “existencialistas a la mexicana.” It is the brazen attempt to lend a Mexican character to the philosophy of existence and ground it in the Mexican circumstances. Michael writes: “La originalidad de los hiperiones estuvo más en su facha de filósofos agonistas, verdaderos existencialistas a la Mexicana, algunos de ellos alcohólicos disfrazados de genios, ingobernables en su pensamiento apenas bocetado.” Insult or not, I’m going to go ahead and appropriate it. To be continued….