Latin America, philosophy in

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-ZA009-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 20, 2021, from

Article Summary

Geographically, Latin America extends from the Mexican–US border to those regions of Antarctica to which various Latin American countries have laid claim. It includes the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Philosophy in Latin America dates from pre-Columbian (before 1492 in Hispanic America) and precabralian times (before 1500 in Brazil). Autochthonous cultures, particularly the Aztecs, Mayas, Incas and Tupi-Guarani, produced sophisticated thought systems centuries before the arrival of Europeans in America.

Academic philosophy began in the sixteenth century when the Catholic church began to establish schools, monasteries, convents and seminaries in Latin America. The seventeenth century saw little philosophical activity as effort was made to use academic thought to maintain the status quo, which reinforced a basically medieval worldview. Intellectually, the eighteenth century perpetuated this calm traditionalism until mid-century when a generation of Jesuits tried to break with the thought of Aristotle in order to modernize it. Political turmoil prevented academic philosophy from broadening in the early part of the nineteenth century. Later in the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth, positivism eventually became entrenched in most Latin American countries. In the early twentieth century new intellectual movements began as a backlash against anti-positivism.

Citing this article:
Oliver, Amy A.. Latin America, philosophy in, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-ZA009-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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