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In explaining what Latin American Philosophy is, and the issues that still pertain to it today, comes the history that made it what it is. The oppression and disadvantages Latin America was put through by European states continuing on to the United States later on, and the impact it had and still has on not only Latin America, but the philosophy in which it is based upon. Issues among Latin America and Philosophy pertain to political issues and debates as well as social issues within Latin America. A huge issue discussed throughout the philosophical view of Latin America is the roots in which this philosophy is based. Many different types of philosophy are discussed throughout, but many times questioned as they are derived from European ties. This brings up the issue of authenticity of Latin American Philosophy.
As stated earlier, the history of Latin America is a messy topic. Throughout the course we have seen the oppression Latin America faced which still impacts it today. In Open Veins we become aware of the World Systems Theory which Galeono, and we saw the positive impact that Latin America had on western civilizations. This impact was caused by the stealing and advancing off of the goods of Latin America such as coffee and oil (Lecture Notes). Further advancing the society of the western civilization unto America, while keeping Latin America as the land of all their production and hard work. The use of people in Latin American society, along with the goods they produced, further advanced capitalist countries, while keeping the hardworking Latin American society at a standstill.
As Latin America had been seen as a lesser society and Western civilizations seemed more advance (of course advancing off of the work of Latin Americans and their goods) comes one important issue in discussing Latin American Philosophy. As their philosophy came about, comes the question of exactly where it came from. As discussed earlier, it had a great influence by the European society, overall questioning the authenticity and originality of their philosophy, taken by the people who initially oppressed this specific society. Among an early philosopher who discussed important theories and issues in Latin America was Bartolome De Las Casas. It is important to note here, this philosopher was actually taught in Europe.
Though raised and influenced by European Philosophy, Bartolome actually raised important social issues (a topic seen throughout Latin American Philosophy) of Human Rights, specifically in terms of the Native Americans during early times. During this early Colonial time, this topic is important as Bartolome defends the Native Americans in which many at the time consider a different species than human due to their lifestyle. It is important in this early time because it outlines an issue seen throughout Latin American Philosophy of the treatment and even the labeling of humans impacting the rights they have and the life the live.
Social issues coincide with political issues in Bartolome’s theory and piece called In the Defense of the Indians. As so early in Latin American philosophy, this is important in the development, as well as outlining current and past issues. Issues of treatment of humans based off of different lifestyles such as the Indians during this time. Bartolome sees and relates to the different lifestyle the Indians have, appreciating and viewing their different lifestyle, not viewing them as inhumane and viewed by some as “natural slaves”; “Certainly no such men among them has the skill needed for government, nor is there among them quickness of mind or correctness of judgement. As a result, they do not want to choose a ruler for themselves who would bind them under virtue of political rule” (Bartolome, 38). Bartolome sees the difference, sees the freedom in which they relay their society, and instead of critiquing it, tries to understand it. This is important in discussing future philosophies and social issues that arise after this Colonial time.
As a society built off of European influence, a society of many different races and ethnicities, came racism. The whiter one was, the better. They viewed darker skinned people as lesser to those who were lighter. This came off of the influence of Europe and the power in which Europe always maintained, further causing social and political issues among the Latin American society, and confusion in identity among all included. During this time Latin America had just experienced liberation. One step forward, two steps back. As they were finally free, their nation was socially divided due to the racism they faced. As a society very much wanting the lifestyle reflecting the European Nation, they had taken Positivism as their way to progress further towards that goal.
Though during this time came about racial issues, came a Positivist thinker which I believe progressed the further underdeveloped nation, Sarmiento. Sarmiento during this time of racism and segregation, took away what I believe is one of the best influences he could get from western civilization, which was education among all. This would further lead Latin America to a more developed and fundamental society. The idea and importance of education for all individuals coming from the democratic idea taken from the United States. This would also further the influence of democracy and importance of a strong political system for Latin America.
As Latin America strived to become more and more like western civilization, one philosopher made a great theory and impact on Latin Philosophy. One issue which I had discussed as the main issue of Latin America and its philosophy was the authenticity which it held. It’s influence of western civilizations became a reflection and need for this type of society, rather than embracing its own unique society. During this time the philosopher Rodo theorizes solutions towards this ongoing issue. He discusses the issues of materialism and use of the philosophy of utilitarianism, as derived from Europe and America, in order to excel, rather than what he believes would excel the nation, being spiritualism. Rodo is right in the fact that Latin America looks to strive to further development through use of material items and wealth as a sight of civilization and a thriving society. Within this, which I agree with Rodo, comes the lack of authenticity of Latin America’s original origins and goals, in which Spiritual values were more important. This outlines an important line in which Latin American societies strived so hard to become like western civilizations, that they undermined their roots and own individuality in order to achieve what western civilizations strived for which was wealth and power.
In terms of Latin American philosophy, and whether or not it even exists, that is questionable among all still. As we have seen, due to historical events making Latin America an underdeveloped society compared to those of western civilization, it has had it’s issues in terms of philosophy. Due to these historical events and the oppression that this society was brought upon, Latin America was greatly influenced by European philosophy, even maintaining European roots in terms of Philosophers themselves. This furthered the influence of western civilization as well as the importance of capitalism. As time went on, and the influence grew greater, so did issues in which western civilizations faced as well such as racism. The need and wish to be lighter, thinking that somehow segregating these individuals would make the society grow. This has always been seen as an issue in Latin American philosophy as we had discussed the issue of how the indigenous people were treated, the issue of human rights. Among this issue came also the issue of politics as Latin American society grew.
If there was any kind of unique Latin American Philosophy, it would be what we learned, the Philosophy of Liberation. This philosophy overall is trying to achieve what they had always wrongly strived for in influence of western civilizations, freedom. So blindly Latin American society had turned on each other, on their indigenous roots, in strive for a more materialistic and civilized society such as Europe and the United States, that it had lost all its individuality along the way. Turning on each other and their own roots to achieve what they thought would bring them further, being wealth and power. The philosophy of Liberation allowed for a view of their unique society without the need for economic and political power, just overall freedom within the Latin American society.
As stated in the beginning, Latin America faced difficulties from the beginning of time. As Europe had taken advantage of their labor and goods to further themselves economically, oppression faced Latin America as a whole. This further influenced their philosophy and lifestyle as a whole. Their need and their wish to be more like western civilizations, as that is what they saw as successful. They strayed from their indigenous roots as they strived for this society, following the philosophical influences along the way. Political and social issues and differences among Latin American society arose during these times. Though in some manners they progressed due to western influence, such as need for education and political order, they also regressed in terms of racism and individuality. Overall, Latin America and the philosophy of Latin America is all reflected off of Europe and the United States, whether it be their success or their failure, Latin America was and still is a mix of individuals in a society greatly impacted and influenced by western civilizations, straying and even becoming disgraced by their roots and indigenous past.
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