The Philosophical Polemic in Havana Revisited

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The polemic was an important cultural event in 19th-century Cuba. From 1838 to 1840, issues of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, pedagogy, and the influence of Victor Cousin’s eclecticism were discussed in the island’s leading newspapers. A brief historical account preceding the polemic is offered. It is argued that the predominant view of the polemic as motivated by a widespread desire for Cuba’s independence from Spain is misleading — promoting an emancipatory myth. Lastly, it is argued that José de la Luz y Caballero’s appeal to patriotism during the polemic unwittingly established a dangerous precedent for self-appointed guardians of patriotism to condition public debates.
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First archival date: 2013-12-16
Latest version: 4 (2013-12-16)
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