Let’s get back to this…

It has been a while since Robert or I posted anything on Mexican philosophy, and that’s not Mexican philosophy’s fault, since it is still there, waiting for our interventions, for our attention. It’s not going anywhere. My way into Mexican philosophy has always been through the caverns of el Hiperion, and so here I am again.

These days, I’m considering, again, the “value” inherent in Mexican philosophy for a more nuanced picture of my own cultural identity, of historical reality, of the world–of my world and the world that surrounds me, la circumstancia. So I turn to Emilio Uranga. But right away, Uranga warns of an apparent prejudice that might derail my search for clarity and direction. This prejudice has to do with what we imagine philosophy’s task ought to be, and one that I’ve promoted in one way or another in the past: namely, that the task of philosophy is to transform us in some way. While this could be a consequence of reading philosophical texts, Uranga suggests that transformation is not the goal; the goal is, rather, to deliver us to who we have been and who we are.

In a desperate gesture it is said that what matters is not to know, but to transform ourselves; that the task resides in altering our mode of being and not in illuminating it through reflection. What is sought is blind change, pleasure in darkness. But what blindly changes doesn’t change, but rather remains the same in the opacity that preceded the initiative. Many would like to see us transformed without having our consciousness register our metamorphosis. Accomplices to a dark but active mysticism, they reject analysis and wait for others to tell us, once the mutation has taken place, that we are no longer who we were….But the task is not to situate ourselves so as to be seen differently, it is not to learn a role that will avoid embarrassment when we stand before strangers; the task is, rather, to resolutely accept [asumir] what we are…Accepting ourselves as we are means that, 1. We will not be embarrassed; 2. We will not feel negated or limited; and 3. We must avoid grasping at the blind man’s stick that in darkness seeks to destroy our character and ‘change us.’ (Emilio Uranga, Analisis del ser del mexicano, 2013 (1952), 107).

Accepting ourselves as who we are, or, I could say in a more ontological tone, delivering ourselves to our own being, means liberating ourselves from our own bad faith (from embarrassment), liberating ourselves from our own fears (from negations and limitations), and liberating ourselves from the Other’s expectant gaze that demands that we become what we are not (from the blind man). Ultimately, this deliverance that bring about liberation is a complicated act of self-confrontation, but is one that is possible for us as it was for Uranga. I’ll call this philosophical approach to self and circumstance, in the spirit of Uranga, liberatory historicist existentialism. I’ll see where it goes…

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3 responses to “Let’s get back to this…

  1. Thank you. You catch me me just as I’m considering a leap from being a graduate student in philosophy to one in Mexican-American studies. Nietzsche says it, Heidegger says it, and your analysis of Urunga’s work through this blog reminds me of why I chose philosophy to begin with

    • First, I’m glad you’re reading our blog; second, I’m glad that we’re making small differences, especially if we’re reminding you of why philosophy in the first place. Thank you for your comment as well.

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