PHIL 401 C: Advanced Topics in Philosophy

Winter 2022
WF 1:30pm - 3:20pm / SAV 168
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

PHIL 401: Latin American Philosophy

Instructor: José J. Mendoza 


Office: Savery Hall 385

Office Hour: Monday 12:30-1:30 and Wednesday 3:30-4:30

Office Hour Zoom Link


Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with a general survey of Latin American philosophy, including some of its key texts and authors. This survey will range from Mesoamerican philosophy to the present. It will cover debates about whether there was an “indigenous” philosophy in Latin America prior to the European conquest. From there we will look at the debates over whether there is now an “authentic” Latin American philosophy and the course will conclude with debates over the nature (or existence) of a Latinx identity and the original contributions of Latinx feminism.


Required Texts

All texts will be available on Canvas.


Course Grading Scale

(roughly each 1% increment between grades is equivalent to 0.1)

A          95% = 4.0

B          85% = 3.0

C          75% = 2.0

D         65% = 1.0

At the end of the quarter we will convert your course grade from a percentage to the UW 4-point scale using this metric: 95% and up is 4.0; 94% is 3.9; 93% is 3.8; etc.  Each 1% step is a 0.1 step on the UW 4-point scale. So an 86.1%, e.g., would give you a 3.1 on the UW scale. 85.5% rounds up to 86% (and thus 3.1), but 85.49% does not. At the bottom of the scale, however, 60% also rounds up to 0.7. See image below.



Assignment Guidelines for Undergraduates

1. Reading Quizzes (25% of course grade or 1.0 of the 4.0 total)

Each quiz will consist of about 5-20, mostly multiple-choice, questions. There is no time limit and the questions chronologically follow the reading. You are therefore strongly encouraged to take the quiz as you complete the readings. Quizzes will be available for only 14 days. So, do not fall too far behind and keep in mind there is no way to make up the quizzes once the quizzes are closed.


2. Short Writing assignments (30% of course grade or 1.2 of the 4.0 total)

There will be two short writing assignments (about 2,000 words in length) throughout the term.


3. Class Presentations and Participation (20% of course grade or 0.8 of the 4.0 total)



4. Final Paper (25% of course grade or 1.0 of the 4.0 total)

This assignment should take no less than 6 pages to complete, but it should also be no longer than 12 pages. The format for this paper is as follows: double-spaced, 12-point font, in Times New Roman or something similar, and margins should be at least one inch wide but no more than 1.25 inches wide. Citations should follow either APA, MLA, or Chicago style. Papers should be turned in through Canvas and NOT by email.


Reading Schedule

Unit One (Weeks 1-3):  Was There “Indigenous” Philosophy in Latin America?

Week One (Jan 5 & 7)

Required Readings:

Miguel León-Portilla: Aztec Thought and Culture:

Jan 5th (Wednesday)

Prefaces (both)

Introduction: Philosophy and Culture in Ancient Mexico

Chapter 1: The Birth of Philosophy Among the Nahuas

Chapter 2: The Pre-Columbian Concept of the Universe

Jan 7th (Friday)

Chapter 3: Metaphysical and Theological Ideas of the Nahuas


Week Two (Jan 12 & 14)

Required Readings:

Miguel León-Portilla: Aztec Thought and Culture

Jan 12 (Wednesday)

Chapter 4: The Approach to Man in Nahuatl Thought

Chapter 5: Nauatl Man: Creator of a Way of Life

Jan 14 (Friday)



Week Three (Jan 19 and 21)

Required Readings:

Jan 19th (Wednesday): James Maffe: Pre-Columbian Philosophies

Jan 19th (Wednesday): Susana Nuccetelli: “Native Folk Cosmologies Versus Western Philosophy and Science”

Jan 21st (Friday): Alejandro Santana: “Did the Aztecs Do Philosophy?”


Unit Two (weeks 4-5): Is There an “Authentic” Latin American Philosophy?

Week Four (Jan 26 & 28)

Required Readings:

Jan 26th (Wednesday): Risieri Frondizi: “Is There an Ibero-American Philosophy?”

Jan 26th (Wednesday): José Carlos Mariátegui: “Is There Such a Thing as Hispanic-American Thought?”

.Jan 26th (Friday): Leopoldo Zea: “The Actual Function of Philosophy in Latin America”

Jan 28th (Friday): Leopoldo Zea: “Identity: A Latin American Philosophical Problem”

Jan 28th (Friday): Augusto Salazar Bondy: “The Meaning and Problem of Hispanic American Philosophic Thought”


Week Five (Feb 2 & 4)    

Required Readings:

Feb 2nd (Wednesday): Vicente Medina: "The Possibility of an Indigenous Philosophy: A Latin American Perspective"

Feb 2nd (Friday): Jorge J. E. Gracia: "Identity and Latin American Philosophy"

Feb 4th (Friday): Susana Nuccetelli: “Latin American Philosophy”


Unit Three (week 6): Is There a “Unique” Latinx Identity?

Week Six (Feb 9 & 11)

Required Readings:

Feb 9th (Wednesday): Jorge J.E. Gracia: “What Makes Hispanics/Latinos Who We Are? The Key to our Unity in Diversity”

Feb 9th (Wednesday): Linda Alcoff: “Latino vs. Hispanic: The Politics of Ethnic Names”

Feb 11th (Friday): Linda Alcoff:  "Latinos and the Categories of Race" (Chapter 10 in Visible Identities pgs 227-246)


Unit Four (weeks 7-10): Latinx Feminism

Week Seven (Feb 16 & 18)

Required Reading:

Gloria Anzaldúa: Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Feb 16 (Wednesday)

Chapter 1: The Homeland, Aztlán/El Otro México

Chapter 2: Movimientos de Rebeldia y Las Culturas que Traicionan

Chapter 3: Entering Into the Serpent

Chapter 4: La Herencia de Coatlicue/The Coatlicue State

Chapter 5: How to Tame a Wild Tongue

Feb 18 (Friday)

Chapter 6: Tlilli, Tlapalli: the Path of the Red and Black Ink

Chapter 7: La Conciencia de Ia Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness


Week Eight (Feb 23 & 25)

Required Reading:

Feb 23rd (Wednesday): María Lugones:Playfulness, “World”-Traveling, and Loving Perception

Feb 23rd (Wednesday): María Lugones: Purity, Impurity, and Separation

Feb 25th (Friday): Mariana Ortega: In-Between : Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self


Chapter 1 The New Mestiza and La Nepantlera


Week Nine (March 2 & 4)

Required Readings:

Mariana Ortega: In-Between : Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self

March 2 (Wednesday)

Chapter 2 Being-between-Worlds, Being-in-Worlds

Chapter 3 The Phenomenology of World-Traveling

March 4 (Friday)

Chapter 4 World-Traveling, Double Consciousness, and Resistance


Week Ten (March 9 & 11)

Required Readings:

Mariana Ortega: In-Between : Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self

March 9 (Wednesday)

Chapter 5 Multiplicitous Becomings: On Identity, Horizons, and Coalitions

Chapter 6 Social Location, Knowledge, and Multiplicity

March 11 (Friday)

Chapter 7 Hometactics



March 18: Final Paper Due (5pm PST)


Catalog Description:
A study of philosophical topics at the advanced level. Topics vary.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
May 23, 2024 - 3:45 am