This lecture is part of the monthly CCEP Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Contemporary European Philosophy at Radboud Universiteit.
Hegel's philosophy of history has an ambiguous legacy in contemporary Latin American thought. As is well known, Hegel notoriously locates the Americas outside of the course of history and, consequently, outside of the rational world. As a result of this and other Eurocentric elements, philosophers from Latin America are particularly aware of the colonialist overtones of Hegel's narrative. Equally, however, philosophers from this continent continue to draw on Hegel in order to understand their own place in world history and their relation to the European tradition and even to articulate anti-colonolist projects. Such is the case especially among the philosophers of the so-called historicist branch of Liberation Philosophy, whose starting point is a critical engagement with Hegel's philosophy of history.
In this talk, my aim is to shed light on some of the reasons for the presence of Hegel's philosophy of history in Latin America as well as the ways that it has been adapted toward emancipatory purposes. To this end, I explore perhaps the most comprehensive attempt at such adaptations as it appears in Leopoldo Zea’s 1978 work The Philosophy of American History. In this work, Zea aims to extend Hegel’s historical dialectic of the coming to consciousness of freedom to colonial and postcolonial Latin America. I focus in particular on Zea's claim that the core of the Hegelian philosophy of history is contained in the relatively few pages of The Phenomenology of Spirit that deal with the so-called Master Slave Dialectic. I briefly compare Zea's account to an important predecessor, namely Franz Fanon's interpretation of the Master Slave Dialectic. Next, I look at Zea’s motives for adopting the Master Slave Dialectic and his manner of adapting it to the Latin America context.
Pavel Reichl is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Groningen. His interests are in Kant and Post-Kantian philosophy, broadly construed. He has published on a number of topics in this area, including Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion, and Historiographical Theory. His current research focuses on conceptions of history in Latin American Philosophy of Liberation. Prior to joining Groningen, he held a post as a Research Fellow at KU Leuven in the project The Historical Turn in Early Post-Kantian Philosophy (1790-1799), and has taught at the University of Essex and Newcastle University in the UK.