Academic Rebels in Chile

The Role of Philosophy in Higher Education and Politics

By Ivan Jaksic

Subjects: Philosophy Of Education
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9780887068799, 259 pages, July 1989
Hardcover : 9780887068782, 259 pages, July 1989

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Table of contents


I. Philosophy, the Secularization of Thought, and Higher Education: 1810-1865

Philosophical Studies in Chile after Independence
Philosophy and the University of Chile
hile's Engagé Philosophers

II. The Era of Positivism: 1870-1920

The Introduction of Positivism in Chile
Valetin Letelíer's Positivism and Germanic Influences
The Impact of Positivism on Philosophical Studies

III. The Founders of Chilean Philosophy, 1920-1950

The Defense of Spirituality
The Spirit and Politics
The Impact on Philosophical Studies

IV. The Institutionalization and Critique of Philosophical Professionalism, 1950-1968
The Sociedad Chilena de Filosofía
The Reaction against Academic Philosophy
Logic and Criticism
Juan Rivano and Dialectical Criticism

V. Philosophy and the Movement for University Reform, 1960-1973
The Philosophical Response
Professionalists and the University
The Process of University Reform
Philosophy during the Unidad Popular Administration

VI. Chilean Philosophy Under Military Rule
Chilean Philosophy after 1973
The Official Philosophers
The Professionalist Philosophers
The Critical Philosophers



Many philosophers have been appointed to top-level political positions during Chile's modern history. What makes Chilean philosophers unique in the context of Latin America and beyond, is that they have developed a sophisticated rationale for both their participation and withdrawal from politics. All along, philosophers have grappled with fundamental problems such as the role of religion and politics in society. They have also played a fundamental role in defining the nature and aims of higher education. The philosophers' production constitutes a substantial, albeit largely unknown, portion of the intellectual history of Chile and Latin America.

This book describes in detail the evolution of philosophical work in Chile, and pays close attention to the relationship between philosophical activity and contemporary social and political events. Various Chilean philosophical sources are discussed for the first time in the literature on Chilean ideas. The work of such intellectuals as Andres Bello, Valentin Letelier, Enrique Molina, Jorge Millas, Juan Rivano, Juan de Dios Vial Larrain, and many others is examined in relation to the principal political and educational issues of their time. The book also develops a distinction between the two main currents of Chilean philosophy, namely, a "professionalist" current that seeks the independence of the field from social and political involvements, and a "critical" current that seeks to relate philosophical activity to national realities.

Iván Jaksicå is Program Coordinator and Graduate Advisor at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.


"This is the first detailed and complete account in English of the development of philosophic thought in Chile from the time of independence to the present. " — Fred Gillete Sturm, University of New Mexico

"Professor Jaksicå's work is unique as a history of academic philosophy in Latin America set in proper historical context. It is particularly interesting because it uncovers the unusual richness of Chile's philosophical tradition. " — Charles A. Hale, University of Iowa

"This is an original work that contributes significantly to our knowledge in several areas including the history of higher education and the relationship of philosophy to multifaceted aspects of development. The author deftly uses his careful research on a fascinating national case to explore issues and dilemmas that transcend that case. The documentation is solid, the conclusions drawn judicious, and the style highly readable. " — Daniel C. Levy, State University of New York at Albany