Philosophy, the Conquest, and the Meaning of Modernity: A Commentary on "Anti-Cartesian Meditations: On the Origin of the Philosophical Anti-Discourse of Modernity" by Enrique Dussel

By Alcoff, Linda Martin | Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

Philosophy, the Conquest, and the Meaning of Modernity: A Commentary on "Anti-Cartesian Meditations: On the Origin of the Philosophical Anti-Discourse of Modernity" by Enrique Dussel


Alcoff, Linda Martin, Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge


In his "Anti-Cartesian Meditations: On the Origin of the Philosophical Anti-Discourse of Modernity" (see the version on www.enriquedussel.com used for page citations below; it also appears in this issue of the journal) Enrique Dussel makes a major contribution to the developing work in post-colonial philosophy, an area or subfield within philosophy that is not yet recognized by any major philosophical association or research department. Because this area of philosophy remains unrecognized, there is the real danger that Dussel's critical text will go unrecognized, just as Felipe Guaman Poma's did for so many generations. The problems and obstacles that Dussel analyzes in the history of philosophy have not by any means been solved, and they continue to threaten to disable the reception of his own contributions. In this commentary, therefore, I want to think through the issue of how Dussel's historical revisions affect the doing of philosophy, its conditions of reproduction particularly in contemporary graduate departments, and its own self-understanding of its history and current disciplinary definition.

Even today, in the 21st century, there are no required courses in post-colonial philosophy in any department in the Americas, no comprehensive exams or advisory committees in this area, no associations, conferences, or journals, no compendiums of the major papers, nor encyclopedic overviews. Nor do the various programming committees of the major philosophical organizations recognize this as an area that merits its share of panels at the annual conventions, alongside, for example, early modern philosophy or ethics. Post-colonial philosophy exists only in the sense that there exists scholarly work that would fit within such a rubric, but it does not exist in the sense of being an acknowledged reality or recognized category. "Post-colonial philosophy" is like the categories "alternative medicine" or "racism" or "sexual harassment" in the not too distant past, categories with a referent (plenty of referents, actually), but no recognized reality or accepted linguistic usage. Let me begin, then, with a characterization of what the area of post-colonial philosophy concerns, and how it relates to other subfields within the discipline, as a way of placing Dussel's own analyses within a legible framework.

The term "post-colonial" is meant to refer not to a period after colonialism but to the analysis of colonialism in relation to the formation of the modern capitalist world system. (1) Although most formalized systems of colonial administration have been dismantled, neo-colonialism is alive and well, colonialism lingers, and what Anibal Quijano calls the coloniality of power--or the organization of power and status through social identities constructed within colonial relations of production--remains as strong as ever in literature as well as in the meta-narratives of culture, history and global political conflict, the representations of the West and its others, and so on. Another way to put this is that colonial ideologies remain strongly influential of new discourses and new theories even in the contemporary moment. The project of post-colonialism is to trace out these influences, to search them out, even where we might imagine them not to have much relevance, as Dussel does here and in his other work in the philosophical sub-field of epistemology.

As we might imagine, colonial narratives have had the most influence over the canonical histories of western philosophy, its periodizations, its ways of categorizing the major periods, and its organization of geographical borders. Still in graduate schools today the history of philosophy is grouped within the following categories: Ancient (meaning fourth century Greece), Early Modern (meaning 17th century northwestern Europe, excluding Spain), Modern (meaning the same area in the 18th century), and Nineteenth and Twentieth Century (including here England, Scotland, the U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Philosophy, the Conquest, and the Meaning of Modernity: A Commentary on "Anti-Cartesian Meditations: On the Origin of the Philosophical Anti-Discourse of Modernity" by Enrique Dussel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.