Contingency and Commitment

Mexican Existentialism and the Place of Philosophy

By Carlos Alberto Sánchez

Subjects: Philosophy, History Of Philosophy, Latin American Studies
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9781438459462, 170 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438459455, 170 pages, February 2016

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Table of contents

Introduction: From Prejudice to Violence

1. EXISTENTIALISM AS PAUSE AND OCCASION: The Appropriations of el Grupo Hiperión

2. DENYING THE POSTMODERN: Jorge Portilla on Reason, Unreason, and the Freedom of Limits

3. THE PASSION DIALECTIC: On Rootedness, Fervors, and Appropriations


5. PHILOSOPHY SIN MÁS?: Notes on the Value of Mexican Philosophy for Latino/a Life


Offers the first comprehensive survey of Mexican existentialism to appear in English.


This book examines the emergence of existentialism in Mexico in the 1940s and the quest for a genuine Mexican philosophy that followed it. It focuses on the pivotal moments and key figures of the Hyperion group, including Emilio Uranga, Luis Villoro, Leopoldo Zea, and Jorge Portilla, who explored questions of interpretation, marginality, identity, and the role of philosophy. Carlos Alberto Sánchez was the first to introduce and emphasize the philosophical significance of the Hyperion group to readers of English in The Suspension of Seriousness, and in the present volume he examines its legacy and relevancy for the twenty-first century. Sánchez argues that there are lessons to be learned from Hyperion's project not only for Latino/a life in the United States but also for the lives of those on the fringes of contemporary, postmodern or postcolonial, economic, political, and cultural power.

Carlos Alberto Sánchez is Professor of Philosophy at San José State University and the author of The Suspension of Seriousness: On the Phenomenology of Jorge Portilla, With a Translation of Fenomenología del relajo, also published by SUNY Press.


"As the first major English-language book on the existentialist movement in Mexico, Contingency and Commitment is no doubt a welcome addition to the steadily growing Latin American intellectual history library. This book is a must-read for (graduate) students of history, sociology, critical theory, and philosophy." — H-Net Reviews (H-LatAm)

"…capable of disrupting our most firmly held beliefs and encouraging us to think differently." — Hispanic American Historical Review

"…Sánchez's arguments provide a compelling perspective on the continued significance of the history of Latin American philosophy, and the author develops a thoughtful and provocative existential framing of the conditions of lived experience for Latina/os in the U.S. … the overarching contributions of Sánchez's work will likely serve for many readers as an invitation to begin or to continue engaging the many complex debates within Latin American and U.S. Latina/o philosophy." — Human Studies