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Literature, philosophy in Latin American

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-ZA010-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Within the Latin American intellectual community, the relationship between philosophy and literature constitutes one of the most interesting chapters in its development. Much Latin American literature is characterized by profound philosophical concerns, focusing on the question of identity. From the time of the conquest and colonization of the American continent in the 1500s, a debate regarding the humanity of the recently discovered inhabitants began in Spain. This debate would prove to be one of the most revealing controversies of sixteenth-century Europe. At the point of colonial expansion, Europe projected a logocentric vision which would incite a unique Latin Americanist philosophical discourse relating to the question of identity.

During the nineteenth century, philosophical discourse was formulated principally through literary expression. At first the quest for a cultural identity was the philosophical focus, although two conflicting positions were evident: the desire to achieve cultural independence from Europe and a yearning for Latin America to become European. This latter position inspired the urge to identify with European culture and from the mid-1900s, with the political and economic success of the USA.

In the twentieth century, from the time of the University Reform of 1918, an academic philosophy emerged close to that of Europe and began to diversify the Latin American philosophical panorama. From the various philosophical stances which arose at that time, one that dominated the cultural arena, despite its occasional relegation to a secondary position in academia, was the urge to articulate a Latin Americanist philosophical discourse which would succeed in transcending its own frontiers through liberation philosophy, beginning in the 1960s.

Citing this article:
Gomez-Martinez, Jose Luis. Literature, philosophy in Latin American, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-ZA010-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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