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Existentialist thought in Latin America

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-ZA006-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 12, 2024, from

Article Summary

In Latin America the thought and teaching of José Ortega y Gasset have been very influential. Their influence leaves an important mark on the substance of existentialism. The most effective aspect of Ortega y Gasset’s philosophical conception was his thesis that humans do not have a nature, only a history. It is this concept that encouraged Latin American thinkers to create their own original thought as a product of their concrete historical circumstances. This entry will deal with Latin American existence, unique in its historical concreteness, and from this general view will attempt to construct a metaphysical theory of Latin America’s historical endeavour.

Given that all historicist conception involves values that are objective in nature, it is not surprising that Latin American existentialism was profoundly influenced by Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann, together with the existential analysis of Martin Heidegger. Consequently, in opposition to the phenomenologists with a Husserlian orientation, implicit in Latin American existentialism, there is a phenomenological methodology in the interpretation of history as culture in accordance with the analysis of the dialectics of the structure of history. This opposes all possible perceptions of pure essences which might precede existence. The essence of existence is seen as progressive, constructing itself as it is bypassed by historical events.

Both in terms of the search for an original philosophy, which could be reduced to a philosophy of history (for example in the Orteguian philosophy of life) and in terms of a Heideggerian approach, Latin American philosophy applies a phenomenological method in its analysis. This would explain the fusion of phenomenology and existentialism in the works of Latin American philosophers. All Latin American phenomenological-existentialist philosophical effort is a struggle between the analysis and interpretation of the European currents and their search for the historical realization of the autonomous Latin American being.

Citing this article:
Bertelloni, Maria Teresa. Existentialist thought in Latin America, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-ZA006-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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