Totalization or Corazonada: Thoughts on an Existential Motif in Mexican Philosophy

What we insist on calling “Mexican philosophy” is Mexican because it is borne of an impulse to understand a circumstance that history, politics, and geography has determined as Mexican; it is philosophy because it is an attempt (ultimately heterogeneous) to articulate that understanding in accordance with the rules of the Western philosophical tradition. Its failure to behave in accordance with those rules, moreover, lends those articulations their difference and, simultaneously, their significance. The poet-philosopher Ramon López Velarde, in whose thinking Emilio Uranga finds the “cardinal point” of his ontology, represents one of these failures and, thus, an instance of Mexican philosophical uniqueness. Uranga writes,

For López Velarde the definition of a new being of the Mexican will be an achievement not in ‘cold blood’ but by a ‘corazonada’ [a hunch, a gut feeling?]. More than simply getting to it, it will surprise us, by way of rapture, in the way in which it takes hold of and solicits our thinking” (Analisis, 92).

What’s implied here is that a “corazonada” is an irrational achievement, not an intellectual calculation perfectly aligned with rational principles. It is a knowing without reasons; a “getting to” the matter, to knowledge, by being-open-to what may come, by opening one’s corazon. If what is sought is the meaning of Mexican being (which it was for mid-century Mexican existentialists), then, on this account, it will be revealed without the mediations of other knowledges or prejudices, but immediately, as what surprises us and “takes hold” and “solicits our thinking”; we get to the being of the Mexican, and to Mexican identity, then, not through an intellectually intuited essence, but directly, just as it is immediately given—at that moment, the corazon will know. The problem is trying to articulate, and thus mediate, what is revealed. Something will be lost. Thus we have Uranga’s attempts at formulating an “ontology of the Mexican,” something that in its Mexicanness seems perverse to any student of ontology properly understood, or his excessive attention to the historical fact of the Mexican Revolution, an event with which philosophy has no business and that should surely be relegated to history. The question is, if something is lost, is it philosophical legitimacy?


One response to “Totalization or Corazonada: Thoughts on an Existential Motif in Mexican Philosophy

  1. Not sure if either hunch or gut feeling is the right translation, even if that’s how “corazonada” is usually translated. Given that the contrast is “in cold blood” and that it is some combination of provoked, enraptured, and surprised, it seems to be reaching for something stronger, something that has connotations of the heart. It seems to irreverent to the Western divide between reason, on the one hand, and intuition and revelation, on the other. And it kind of reminds me of something Chesterton says, something to the effect: people say that a crazy person is someone who has lost his reason, but in fact a crazy person is someone who has lost everything but his reason.

    I think it’s worth considering the correct the translation more because it seems to say something about the role of commitment in philosophy, which neither reason nor its contrast in the West (hunch, intuition, revelation) seems to capture.

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