The Disintegration of Community

On Jorge Portilla’s Social and Political Philosophy, With Translations of Selected Essays

By Carlos Alberto Sánchez & Francisco Gallegos

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Social Philosophy, History Of Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9781438480107, 225 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480091, 225 pages, September 2020

Table of contents


Introduction: On Thinking with Portilla about Politics
Carlos Alberto Sánchez & Francisco Gallegos

Part I: On "Critique of Criticism"

1. Terrorism of the Social
Carlos Alberto Sánchez

2. Portilla's Conceptual Framework: Phenomenological Nationalism
Francisco Gallegos

Part II: On "The Spiritual Crisis of the United States"

3. The Politics of Innocence
Carlos Alberto Sánchez

4. Portilla's Method: A Phenomenological Social Theory
Francisco Gallegos

Part III: On "Thomas Mann and German Irrationalism"

5. From Irrationalism to Complacency for the Death of the Other
Carlos Alberto Sánchez

6. Portilla's Hope: Phenomenological Flourishing and Affective Liberation
Francisco Gallegos


Critique of Criticism
Jorge Portilla, translated by Francisco Gallegos and Carlos Alberto Sánchez

The Spiritual Crisis of the United States
Jorge Portilla, translated by Francisco Gallegos and Carlos Alberto Sánchez

Thomas Mann and German Irrationalism
Jorge Portilla, translated by Francisco Gallegos and Carlos Alberto Sánchez


Analysis of this important Mexican philosopher's social, cultural, and political writings.


The Disintegration of Community analyzes the social and cultural writings of Jorge Portilla (1919−1963) in order to demonstrate the continued relevance of his thought. Carlos Alberto Sánchez and Francisco Gallegos situate Portilla's otros ensayos—a series of essays originally published with his more widely known Fenomenología del relajo—at the center of the contemporary debates on the politics of social and cultural identity, the nature of community, and the political role of affect and moods. Sánchez and Gallegos address questions as timely today as they were for Portilla: What drives the impulse toward political nationalism? What sustains the myths that organize our political lives? Under what conditions do communities disintegrate? To answer these questions, the authors seek to think with Portilla by analyzing his writing and to think after Portilla by bringing his critical spirit to bear on the present. An appendix with original English translations of Portilla's three otros ensayos enables the reader to do the same.

Carlos Alberto Sánchez is Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State University and the author of Contingency and Commitment: Mexican Existentialism and the Place of Philosophy and The Suspension of Seriousness: On the Phenomenology of Jorge Portilla, With a Translation of Fenomenología del relajo, both also published by SUNY Press. Francisco Gallegos is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University.


"Sánchez's and Gallegos's … work of recovering Portilla's work for an English-speaking audience is commendable … [the book is] an invitation to engage in critical discussion, which is required for the flourishing of a genuine philosophical community." — Radical Philosophy Review

"This book opens dialogues between the European and Latin American philosophical traditions, between Portilla's work and the Mexican philosophical tradition of which he was a part, and even opens a way to connect Portilla's work to contemporary work on race in the United States. The authors themselves create a dialogue between their own views of Portilla, which makes the book quite exciting to read." — Elizabeth Millán Brusslan, coeditor of Brill's Companion to German Romantic Philosophy