PHIL 419 A: Latin American Philosophy

Winter 2024
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm / SAV 130
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 9.38.14 PM.png

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with a general historical survey of Latin American philosophy, including some of its key texts and authors. This survey will range from the Pre-Cuauhtémoc (i.e., Mesoamerican) period to the present. It will cover debates about whether there was "authentic" philosophy in Latin America prior to the European invasion. From there we will look at the debates that took place from the 16th -18th centuries over the colonization of the Americas and then the 19th century debates concerning the struggles for Latin American independence. From there we will look at debates over nation-building and whether there is an “original" Latin American philosophy. The course will then consider two important contributions  20th century Latin American philosophers have made to the discipline of philosophy. These contributions fall under the headings of Philosophy of Liberation and Latinx Feminism. We will then conclude the course by considering the question of what, if anything, is a Latin American identity, especially in the context of the United States.


Meeting Times

This class will meet Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-2:20pm, in Savery Hall 130


Office Hours

Office hours will be held Tuesdays, 1:30-3:30pm, in Savery Hall 385


Readings for the Course

All readings will be available online. So, there are no books to buy for this course. See Course Reading Schedule below.


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


Assignment Guidelines for Undergraduates

1. Reading Quizzes (25% of course grade)

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 (75% of course grade)

There will be three short writing assignments (about 1,500) words in length) throughout the term. The format for these assignments 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.


Assignment Guidelines for Graduate Students

Term Paper

No less than 10 pages, but be no longer than 25 pages.

Please meet with instructor about a topic by week 9.


Course Reading Schedule:

Unit One (weeks 1-2):  Philosophy in Latin America before it was "Latin America"?

Week One (Jan 3)

Jan 3 (Wednesday): Miguel León Portilla: “Pre-Hispanic Thought”

Week Two (Jan 8 & 10)

Jan 8 (Monday): Miguel León Portilla: “Pre-Hispanic Thought”

Jan 10 (Wednesday): Susana Nuccetelli: “Native Folk Cosmologies Versus Western Philosophy and Science”


Unit Two (weeks 3-5): Philosophy Throughout the Centuries in Latin America

Week Three (Jan 15 & 17)

Jan 15th (Monday): MLK Day: No class

Jan 17th (Wednesday): Alejandro Santana: “The Indian Problem: Conquest and the Valladolid Debate”

Week Four (Jan 22 & 24)

Jan 22nd (Monday): Susana Nuccetelli: “Iberian Scholasticism and Its Critics: From Colonial Rule to Independence”

Jan 24th (Wednesday): Susana Nuccetelli: The Authoritarian Republicanism of Bolívar

Week Five (Jan 29 & 31)

Jan 29th (Monday): Meri L. Clark: “The Emergence and Transformation of Positivism”

Jan 29th (Monday): Susana Nuccetelli: "The Liberal Republicanism of Sarmiento and Alberdi"

Jan 31st (Wednesday): Susana Nuccetelli: "Utopian Latin Americanism: Arielism and Mestizofilia"


Unit Three (weeks 6-8): Is There an “Authentic” Latin American Philosophy?

Week Six (Feb 5 & 7)

Feb 5th (Monday): Risieri Frondizi: “Is There an Ibero-American Philosophy?” 

Feb 5th (Monday): José Carlos Mariátegui: “Is There Such a Thing as Hispanic-American Thought?” 

Feb 7th (Monday): Leopoldo Zea: “The Actual Function of Philosophy in Latin America”

Feb 7th (Wednesday): Leopoldo Zea: “Identity: A Latin American Philosophical Problem”

Week Seven (Feb 12 & 14)    

Feb 12th (Monday): Augusto Salazar Bondy: “The Meaning and Problem of Hispanic American Philosophic Thought”

Feb 12th (Monday): Jorge J. E. Gracia: "Identity and Latin American Philosophy"

Feb 14th (Wednesday): Susana Nuccetelli: “Soft and Hard Socialism”

Week Eight (Feb 19 & 21)    

Feb 19th (Monday): Presidents’ Day: No Class

Feb 21st (Wednesday): Susana Nuccetelli: “Liberation Theology and Philosophy”

Unit Four (week 9-10): New Currents in Latin American Philosophy

Week Nine (Feb 26 & 28)

Feb 26th (Monday): Stephanie Rivera Berruz: "Latin American and Latinx Feminisms"

Feb 28th (Wednesday): Marìa Lugones: "Toward a Decolonial Feminism"

Week Ten (Mar 4 & 6)    

Mar 4 (Monday): Jorge J.E. Gracia: “What Makes Hispanics/Latinos Who We Are? The Key to our Unity in Diversity”

Mar 6 (Wednesday): Linda Alcoff: “Latino vs. Hispanic: The Politics of Ethnic Names”


March 14: Last day papers will be accepted (5pm PST)


Catalog Description:
Historical survey of Latin American philosophy. Includes key texts and authors. Ranges from Mesoamerican period to the present. Recommended: coursework in philosophy.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
February 24, 2024 - 11:33 am