A Revised Existentialist Look at the Americans

Inter-American Journal of Philosophy 14 (2):36-51 (2023)
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Abstract

Typically, existentialist analyses of “America” have been limited to North America (more specifically, the United States). I argue that developing an adequate framework for existentially analyzing America requires a turn to Mexican existentialism. In Emilio Uranga’s and Jorge Portilla’s writings, we discover new conceptual tools for understanding Americanness as such. These thinkers help us imagine an account of American being that does not restrict itself to the United States by using the concepts of existentialism to describe the crises their neighbors to the north as well as they themselves face. American existence has been historically characterized by a convergence (oftentimes clash) of disparate races, ethnicities, languages, cultures, religions, and identities. As history unfolded, this convergence led to various existential crises across the Americas. Whereas the US American way of life is marred by a blustering, naïve, and purposeless misuse of freedom that disregards the other, the existential crisis the Mexican lives is characterized by “accidentality” and “zozobra.” Despite these important differences, all existentialists, and the Mexican existentialists of the Hyperion Group especially, remind us that there is a common way to overcome the various existential crises plaguing the Americas, and that is to exercise freedom in a purposeful, communally conscious manner.

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Juan Carlos Gonzalez
University of California, San Diego

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