The Philosophical Polemic in Havana Revisited


Authors
Vicente Medina
Seton Hall University
Abstract
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.
Keywords Patriotic Myth  Patriotic Fallacy  Latin Americna Philosophy  Philosophy in Cuba  Victor Cousin  Felix Varela y Morales  Jose de la Luz y Caballero  Eclecticism
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