From Dialectics to Analectics in the Thought of Enrique Dussel

Dussel’s philosophy of liberation seeks to subsume the Hegelian dialectic; for, in his view, the latter skips the analectical moment of affirmation of an other outside the totality of the system, and it seeks to conceptualize within a closed-off totality what in it would be unconceptualizable, namely, the reality of the Other.
In this exposition of the thought of Enrique Dussel, some of the characteristics of globalized capitalism, namely, exclusion, proletarianization, and global discipline, are elucidated through the subsumption in Dussel’s thought of dialectical analysis by the analectical affirmation of alterity. Methodologically, Dussel thinks that the critique of domination (the negation of the negation) is possible only through the affirmation of that which is nothing to the logic of domination. Thus, the critique of capital is based upon the affirmation of those who are nothing to capital, that is, insofar as they are not labor-power. Historically, this process can be seen in the rise of a Euro-centered modernity that exists by and through the “covering over” the “visages” of the oppressed. First, modernity is a function of the systemic creation of alterity through conquest and colonization. Second, the modern subject arises through the process of disciplining the other. Third, the other as other is the material foundation of the dialectic, modernization, and capitalism. But, fourth, this material foundation is a historical product of social systems based on class exploitation; or, class exploitation is the foundation of historical forms of alterity and a significant characteristic of globalized capitalism, to wit, systemic exclusion of masses from global markets and systemic inclusion within the sphere of capital.

1. Modernity is a function of the systemic creation of alterity through conquest and colonization.

In El encubrimiento del Indio, Dussel develops a critique of modernity that seeks to preserve the possibility of “mundializability”1 of reason, while criticizing the modern myth that asserts/imposes Western development (Eurocentered developmentalism) as universal and understands the victimization of the Other in the name of that development (i.e., modernization) to be an acceptable price to pay.

Now, if one accepts the notion that modernity begins with the conquest of the Americas and the rise of the world-system in the sixteenth century, there should be little controversy regarding the unjustifiability of a developmentalism that sacrificed millions in the name of “Christian civilization” and colonial profits.

However, a critique of the past brings only partially into question current modernization processes (capitalist globalization and globalist ideology), and it does not necessarily undermine those processes. It could thus happen that we might condemn the past while ending up justifying a personally advantageous present.

It is necessary therefore to show that, first, modernity does indeed begin with the conquest and implicates the oppressed and oppression in its constitution, and, second, modernization processes today follow similar ontological patterns of exclusion and marginalization to those that developed in the sixteenth century.

Modernity in its objective sense arises from “the simple fact of the (foundational) discovery, conquest, colonization, and integration (“subsumption”) of Indigenous America [<Amerindia], which will give Europe the determining <comparative advantage over the Ottoman-Muslim world, India, and China. Modernity is the fruit of this happening, not its cause.”2 The rise of the world-system coterminous with modernity not only displaces the old inter-regional systems (in the case of Europe, its peripheral status vis-à-vis a Muslim-Ottoman center), but also gives rise to capitalism: “… Capitalism is the fruit, and not the cause, of this conjuncture of ‘mundialization’ [<mundialización] and European centrality in the ‘world-system’.”3

Dussel also seeks to capture the meaning of modernity in its theoretical signification by, on the one hand, affirming its emancipative potential, while on the other, showing how the content of this potential has been marred by a mythic assertion of European superiority, a justification of the violence as a necessary stage in modernization, and a self-image of innocence for that violence while attributing blame for it to the victim:

“Semantically, the word modernity carries two ambiguous significations.
(1) For its first and positive conceptual content, modernity signifies rational emancipation….
(2) But, at the same time, in its secondary and negative mythic content, modernity justifies an irrational praxis of violence. The myth follows these steps: (a) Modern civilization understands itself as most developed and superior, since it lacks awareness of its own ideological Eurocentrism. (b) This superiority obliges it to develop the most primitive, uneducated, barbarous extremes. (c) This developmental process ought to follow Europe’s, since development is unilineal according to the uncritically accepted developmental fallacy. (d) Since the barbarian opposes this civilizing process, modern praxis ought to exercise violence (a just colonial war) as a last resort in order to destroy any obstacles to modernization. (e) This domination produces its diverse victims and justifies actions as a sacrifice, an inevitable and quasi-ritual act. Civilizing heroes transform their victims into holocausts of a salvific sacrifice, whether these victims are colonized peoples, African slaves, women, or the ecologically devastated earth. (f) For modernity, the barbarian is at fault for opposing the civilizing process, and modernity, ostensible innocent, seems to be emancipating the fault of its own victims. (g) Finally, modernity, thinking itself as the civilizing power, regards the sufferings and sacrifices of backward and immature peoples, enslaveable races, and the weaker sex as the inevitable costs of modernization.”

The ambiguous meaning of modernity opens up the possibility of transcending it ana-dialectically, that is, by mediating the negation of the negation of the Other through an affirmation of that Other in his or her victimization. I consider this process a positive erasure of the otherness of the oppressed (precisely the positivity that Hegel condemned but that Marx recovered in his return to the materiality of human life). It is necessary to recognize, however, that domination produces materially and constitutes discursively the Other. Liberal pluralism exhibits its bad faith when it proclaims the equality of all while it feeds on inequality and difference.

Dussel proposes a transmodern communication community in which the Other that has been marginalized, oppressed, and exploited, in sum excluded from a Eurocentric modernity can participate fully and equally in all spiritual and material resources, including the free creation of those resources from their own human, culturally specific potential.

“Thus I hope to transcend modern reason not by negating reason as such, but by negating violent, Eurocentric, developmentalist, hegemonic reason. The worldwide liberation project of transmodernity differs from a universal, univocal project that seeks to impose violently upon the Other the following: European rationality, unilateral machismo, and white racism, and which conflates occidental culture with the human in general. In transmodernity, the alterity, coessential to modernity, now receives recognition as an equal.”5

There are, says Dussel, “two contradictory paradigms [of modernity]: mere Eurocentric modernity and modernity subsumed in a world horizon.”6 The former, Eurocentrism, “consists precisely in constituting abstract human universality as such from moments of European particularity, which was the first de facto world-particularity, that is, the first concrete human universality.”7 The latter represents the periphery of the World System, specifically, the poor and the marginal because of the World System; these are a world outside the globe, a periphery at the core of the universal.

<2. The modern subject arises through the process of disciplining the other.

The most common critical view of modernity sees its constitution as dependent on an intra-European rise of modern subjectivity. Thus, a Foucauldian conception of the rise of modernity relates modernity to the rise of disciplinary techniques of the self through capitalist processes but also discursive techniques of domination in the clinic, the army, and the prison. A Habermasian conception of modernity sees it as an uncoupling of communicative reason from the cultural tradition, and, in response to postmodern analyses—partly themselves based on the analysis of the dialectic of the enlightenment by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer—Habermas distinguishes between subject-centered and communicative reason: only the former can be criticized for what Robert Solomon has called “The transcendental pretension of identifying ultimate reality with the self.”8 Finally, postmodern critiques of reason and its totalizing activity refer to a “suicide of modern reason.”9

The Habermasian critique does not consider the conquest of America to be constitutive of modernity. In Habermas’ schema, the conquest of America would begin and end as a medieval enterprise that prepared the ground for the rise of capitalism and concomitant changes in subjectivity, but it was not itself responsible for the changes in subjectivity in Europe. The Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution are instead the main constitutive elements of modernity.

Foucauldian critique is sharper in its analysis as it seeks to show that the modern subject and his ideals are compromised by structures of domination and oppression; for, the former is himself constituted by the latter in the rise of a disciplinary society in disciplinary institutions such as the clinic, the prison, the school, the barracks, and the factory. In fact, Foucault’s analysis has been used to good effect by Latin American historians as they seek to understand the spiritual side of the conquest. For instance, Araceli Barbosa Sanchez refers in Sexo y conquista10 to the process by which the 16th century Spanish religious bureaucracy systematically planned the conversion of the Indigenous by transforming them in their own image. The Spanish rules for confession that appeared during the second half of that century in Spanish and Nahuatl defined ordinary sexual and eating activities as sinful. The purpose of those definitions was in fact to impress the Indian with the evil of their bodies, to create a soul that would indeed become “the prison of the body” (Foucault, Discipline and Punish).11

However, the forced internalization of a harmful dualism had other consequences in societies torn apart by class-based, gendered, and racialized oppression. For, the dualism brought in by the Spaniards and that helped in the colonization of the body of the indigenous was not cause, but rather mechanism and dispositif of power deployed for the sake of domination. From this deployment, there surged forth forms of exploitation that constituted early modernity: Mercantile capitalism with its characteristic use of economic competition against other mercantile states12, and looting and plunder against conquered peoples, to enrich the state for the future or continuing wars with other states and early manufacturing capitalism’s progressive essentialization of a managerial class under the same conditions that ideologically reduced the real producers to mere corporeality. Significantly, this reduction of the worker to a “hand” was accompanied by the rise of a new science capable of explaining the movements of the living body in terms of mechanical laws of motion. By the time of Descartes’ epistemological reflections, the possibility of explaining the relation of two radically distinct substances (res cogitans and res extensa) had become a metaphysical conundrum and a class contradiction.

In this way, through Foucauldian and Marxist analysis can one mediate Dussel’s claim that the Cortesian ego conquiro sets in motion the process which culminates ontologically in the Cartesian ego cogito.13 However, one must be careful not to interpret this as reading the future into the past: Cartesian solitude and epistemological solipsism (from which the thinking thing is saved only by God) are not present either in Cortés’ actions or in his Letters.14 One finds instead, and against Todorov, a cultural “solipsism” in the sense of a denial of the cultural Other. But to reduce the two to a similar meaning would simply empty Cortés’ Letters and Descartes’ Meditations of their historical content.15

3. The other as other is the material foundation of the dialectic, modernization, and capitalism.

The affirmation of the excluded Other is for Dussel an analectical or anadialectical step at the heart of a life-affirming dialectic. The Hegelian dialectic proceeds from negation through a negation of that negation on its pretended road to liberating subsumption. In an early 1974 text, Dussel expresses a strongly exclusive disjunction between the Hegelian dialectical method and the analectical method of the philosophy of liberation. The dialectical method, Dussel would say, “is the path that the totality realizes within itself: from beings to the foundation and from the foundation to beings.” The analectical method “starts from the other as free, as a beyond to the system of the totality. It starts, therefore, from his or her [the Other’s—MS] word, and, trusting on that word, it acts, works, serves, creates.” While the dialectical method is “the dominating expansion of the totality from itself” and “the passage from potency to act by ‘the same’,” the analectical method is “the just growth of totality from the other, and in order to be of service to the other creatively.”16 The sharp contrast between the two methods in this early stage of Dussel’s career is, however, blunted by references to Feuerbach’s contrast between a “true” dialectics and a “false” dialectics, whereby the former has an analectical support (an “ana-dia-lectical movement”) because of its dialogical point of departure.17 This early text thus points to the redintegration of the two methods precisely in the space open by a communication community which, Dussel would later state in his debate with Apel, have to include the Other in his or her exteriority and be grounded for its truth on the affirmation of human life in community.18

Dussel states that the process of subsumption, if it is to be truly liberating must be a subsumption from alterity (i.e., from the victicimized Other).

“The philosophy of liberation gives particular importance to the “analectical” moment of the dialectical movement. In the final analysis, the dialectical quality of the dialectical method consists in the rational movement that goes from the “part” to the “whole”or from a whole to another concrete whole that comprehends it. However, the possibility of such passage … is available, not only because of the negation of the negated in the totality (the moment of negation), and not even because of the affirmation of the totality, which would be not a “surpassing” of it; it would not be a radical or metaphysical Aufhebung, but only an ontological one); rather, such possibility exists because of the affirmation (as origin and as subsequent liberating fulfillment) of exteriority, which would be more essential for a philosophy of the oppressed.”19

Thus, the process of liberation implies an affirmation of the Other on the road from negation (e.g. Capital’s negation of the flesh and blood of living labor) and the negation of the negation (e.g., the negation of Capital’s dehumanizing system of exploitation).

A counterdiscourse to Eurocentric modernity must distinguish itself also, says Dussel, from a pretended counterdiscourse that must westernize itself to be accepted as such (Eurocentric paradigm of modernity). That is, counterdiscourse from and by the Other is necessary for the anadialectical moment to be part of the dialectic and for the dialectic, therefore, to be a living method of liberation:

“If . . . that counterdiscourse is already the dialectical product of a critical dialogue from Alterity (thus, the affirmation of alterity as the principle of the negation of the negation and, therefore, an analectical movement), it cannot be said that it is exclusively and intrinsically European, nor, with even less reason, that only Europe can “bring forth from its own and peculiar traditions” the continuation of that counterdiscourse. On the contrary, it is very possible that that counterdiscourse can be developed more critically from outside of Europe, not as the continuation of a foreign and exclusively European discourse, but rather, as the continuation of a critical labor that the periphery has stamped upon the counterdiscourse produced in Europe and upon its own peripheral discourse, which is constructed with what is peripheral and dominated in the world-system and from the affirmation of the exteriority of the excluded. In fact, a counterdiscourse is almost constitutively a counterdiscourse when it is not Eurocentric.”20

In his early works, Dussel had begun with a dialectic that comprehends Being non-conceptually, only to move beyond it; for, in that case, dialectic’s limit is still the positivity of Being. In his early Ética, this dialectic is represented by Heideggerian thought, which goes as far as a philosophy of Being can go.

“The world as such… cannot be an object; it is unobjectifiable, and that is why it is not possible to conceptualize it. That is, conceptualization is but an expression (a moment of interpretation) of what already at hand is confronting us within the world…. That is why we are referred to a “preconceptual com-prehension of being” [Heidegger]…. Com-prehension of being is supremely intelligible… and yet, it is not a pure or eidetic intuition; nor is it a conceptualization; it is a distinct moment that, in order to avoid misunderstandings and to name it approximately, we will call dia-lectic com-prehension—the very first actuality.”21

Dialectical thought remains, however, within the confines of the totality. Ethically and politically, dialectics affirms the being of the system on the basis of the alterity it excludes. It is important, therefore, to move “anadialectically” towards that which is other than being, so that we may then move from that which is other than being towards the dialectical negation of the negation. For Dussel, this is the inescapable ethical position of the analectical method:

“What is characteristic to the ana-lectical method is that it is intrinsically ethical, and not merely theoretical as the ontic discourse of the sciences is or ontological as dialectical discourse. That is, the acceptance of the other as other signifies an ethical option, a choice and a moral commitment: It is necessary to negate oneself qua totality, to affirm oneself as finite, to be an atheist about the foundation qua identity. ‘Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught’ (Isaiah 50, 4).”23

Indeed, Dussel’s earlier conception of the place of this thinking reveals a remarkable continuity in his thought from 1971, when the first volume of his Ética was first published, until 1998, when his latest Ética was published. In a passage from the former, Dussel calls for the formulation of what one could now call a postcolonial thought from the experience of subalternality:

“From “alterity” there surges forth a new thinking which is not dialectical, but rather, analectical, and little by little, we enter in what is unknown to modern philosophy, to present European philosophy, to logological thought. We thus establish a Latin American anthropology with the objective of being philosophy’s fourth age and the real contemporary post-imperial philosophy, valid not only for Latin America, but also for the Arab world, Black Africa, India, South East Asia and China: A philosophy of the opressed that arises from oppression itself, a philosophy of liberation from the poor nations of the globe.”24

In his later work, Dussel calls for a “transmodern” overcoming of modernity. We can see that this is theoretically related to the earlier call for an analectical transcendence of the Hegelian dialectic and Heideggerian Being.
The meaning of transmodernity can be gathered from the historiography, the sociology, and the political economy of Dussel’s thought. We saw above, in the analysis of modernity, and its myth and progressive possibilities, a historical and cultural critique of the subsumption of the Other by the logic of a conquering system. Thus, was alterity silenced, exteriority repressed, and the Other marginalized. In this case, according to Dussel, the Other is the Other of the rising World System—a peripheral Other who as Indigenous, African, peasant, worker, marginal, and to some extent mestiza/o and criollo/a has struggled with an identity imposed and a self-image of difference on the basis of, and dependent for what could be called its infra-Being on, that identity.
Dussel’s notion of transmodernity proposes in this context a liberation from modern identity through the affirmation of the unique [distinto], not different, Other. Only thus, can we posit discursively a convergence of freely developed identities in a truly inclusive transmodern communication community. It is transmodern because it admits of the possibility of consensus, not a continuing postmodern dissensus. But it is a consensus that is founded on the exteriority excluded by modernity (which is itself disguised in the abstract formal consensus of Apel’s discourse ethics and Habermas’s ideal speech situation).

“[The] real overcoming [of modernity] qua subsumption, and not merely Hegelian Aufhebung, is subsumption of its European emancipative rational character, which is transcended towards a global project of liberation of modernity’s negated alterity. This is “trans-modernity.” The ones in charge of building a new symmetry will be the dominated and excluded themselves, i.e., the victims, who are [now] situated asymmetrically in a hegemonic community; their community will be a new consensual, critical, historical, and real community of communication.”26

We can also evince Dussel’s analectical affirmation of alterity in his political economy, to which we now briefly turn. Dussel’s economic theories owe much to Marxism, even during the period when he sought to distance the philosophy of liberation from the supposed totalitarianism of Marxist principles. It can also be said that his economic thought has always been in an open dialogue with Marxism, criticizing nonetheless what he perceived to be ontologizing tendencies in some Marxist currents (e.g., Althusserianism in Argentina during the early 1970s).

Dussel’s political economy is also Schellingian, Levinasian, and “Semitic” in spirit. The first allows for an affirmation of the flesh and spirit negated by capital. The second establishes the pulsion towards the alterity negated by capital. The third nurtures a notion of production as creation from nothing and, as such, a free gift from an Absolute Other.

Regarding human activity, Dussel makes a fundamental distinction between praxis and poiesis. The former establishes a relation between person and person, the latter between person and thing. Economics establishes a relation between person and person through a thing produced by a person out of the materiality (i.e., the need and vulnerability) of human life. This producing person—her living labor—is the source of all value. Her poietic productive act is the source of things and all value but is itself not a value. As such, it is a creation ex nihilo, an exteriority; however, in the concrete act of production, it is an “interior transcendentality” to any system, in the sense that it produces value (use-values and, in some systems, exchange-values). Vis-à-vis a system of values, it is a nothing to what-is; hence, it is an absolute exteriority: “Before living labor is use value for capital, the worker is unique corporeality (corporalidad distinta), free person, absolute poverty, and radical nakedness that capital itself produces as a condition for its reproduction.”27

In a capitalist system, structured as it is towards the production of commodities for the growth of capital, living labor is nothing to capital. It is “something” to capital only as labor-power bought and sold, a value, i.e., reified alterity whose products become fetishized. But as sheer human activity, flesh and bone in motion with an inner purpose, a desire, and a need that seeks satisfaction, it is, therefore, nothing to capital and in effect negated in her or his exteriority. In sum, it is irrelevant to capital, except in so far as it is convertible to a value and thus not significant in itself, in his or her humanity.28 For Dussel, this exteriority is a metaphysical notion, in the sense that it lays beyond Being itself and, therefore, beyond social systems as such.29

4. The materiality of alterity is a historical product of social systems based on class exploitation; or, class exploitation is the foundation of historical forms of alterity and a significant characteristic of globalized capitalism, to wit, simultaneously systemic exclusion of masses from global markets and systemic inclusion of them within the sphere of capital.

The phenomenology of work today attests to the concluding remarks of the previous section, if one “lowers” one’s consciousness just enough to look under the regal garments of the ideology of consumerism that seeks to lend legitimacy to globalized capitalism. Qua worker, one is a consumer only as long as one is a human resource or human capital, and subject to an internalized global labor discipline that one is supposed to see as rational solely because of its facticity as the global market principle of production

The old capitalist contradiction between worker and consumer remains, to be sure. That is, the problem for capital continues to be how to exploit to the maximum a worker who also has to consume to crystallize into profits the surplus value expropriated by capitalists at the level of production. Indeed, the consequent crises of overproduction resolved by recessions and economic dislocation for large numbers of people are not a thing of the past. On the contrary, they continue to be integral to the logic of capitalism, the business cycle that a “disciplined” working (and unemployed) population is forced to accept. But this contradiction is also based on a deeper, more “metaphysical” contradiction, to wit, the systematic exclusion or marginalization of most of the people of the world in an increasingly social (rather than simply geographical) core-semiperiphery-periphery global formation. This sense of “metaphysical” is different from Dussel’s; for, he does not regard the provenience of concepts such as “exteriority” and “analectics” as purely socio-historical, but seems to think of them instead as meta-historical constants, as themselves “material” foundations of any discursive justification, and, therefore, if we are to be consistent, as the ground on which any theory of (ethical) validation must be based.30

The metaphysical character (in my sense of decontextualized ideology) of this contradiction expresses the fact that globalized capitalism still rests on a geographical or territorial marginalization historically provenient from the North-South distinction. That is, the social reconstitution of the world-system inherits the problems of the world system organized into geographically articulated first and third worlds. Thus, towards the end of the so-called Fordist era, “the richest 20 per cent of the [world’s] population had 150 times the spending capacity of the poorest 20 per cent,”31 a maldistribution that rested in the traditional division between rich and poor countries. The global demand crisis that ensued from this was temporarily resolved in the passage towards an information-based economy and models of industrial economy, such as Toyotism, that informatization made possible. There is now the attempt to domesticate crises of overproduction by “switching off” entire areas of the world (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa) from the global market, while switching on other areas.32 However, this strategy may run against too thorough a transition from the formal subsumption of capital to its real subsumption.33 There is, on the one hand, a systematic exclusion of billions of people from the global market, but on the other, their systematic inclusion within the sphere of capital.

The apparent helplessness of the organized poor comes from the continuing historical efficacy of this objective condition. Today, this condition still makes it possible for the global core to smooth over its own internal contradiction between worker and consumer. The effectiveness of advertising rests on the possibility of having well-off workers that are also good consumers. But this in turn rests ultimately on the spatial marginalization of a global peripheral working class that is overexploited and the overexploitation of which preserves the “ethical” wage of the workers of the core. Thus, a social contradiction becomes “metaphysical” to the extent that the imperial state is capable of managing its own immediate contradictions by expelling to a world beyond the globe the billions who contribute to that “ethical” wage directly (through sweatshop and postcolonial factory wages) or indirectly (as a “permanent [postcolonial] reserve army,” by eking out a living, if at all, in the informal economy, thus driving down even further sweatshop and postcolonial wages).

However, social, economic, and political factors open up the possibility of destroying the globalist illusion: The rise of a “global consciousness” of the “multitude,”34 produced by an internalized global discipline (and in part as a resistance to the power deployed by that discipline), brings together in a first, surely incipient, step proletarians of the former first, second, and third worlds. Global competition in labor markets has a downward tendency towards the equalization of wages bringing into sharp relief the contradiction of labor with capital. Finally, the loss of power by the welfare state and its replacement by a neoliberal technocratic state undermines the protection that the “social wage” had had for the last fifty years in core and semiperipheral countries.

The forces of dissolution unleashed by the anarchy of globalized capitalism have had very negative consequences, of course. Mass starvations in the “switched off” areas of the globe and regularly recurring genocides in those and other areas, sometimes at the hand of imperial states, such as the United States and its junior partner, England, will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, I do not think that the ruling classes of the imperial states will ever think on their own that the costs of doing business in terms of human lives and health will ever be too high. But the transition to a post-Fordist model of production and the post-welfare state may eventually make it increasingly difficult for them to use the threat of foreign based terrorism as a mechanism for social cohesion. For, the economic and political structures that have substituted Fordism and welfarism undermine the social contract between capital and labor characteristic of the welfare state. Short of the use of terror on its own populations, it is an open question whether the imperial powers will be able to maintain order within their own frontiers if there is a serious deterioration of income and employment.

In the meantime, however, the poor of the world cannot simply wait. For their lives are at stake right now. To paraphrase John Maynard Keynes in a different context, the context of the suffering of the postcolonial world, “In the [short] run, [they] will all be dead.”


1. See Enrique Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion (Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 1998), 82, note 106, for the distinction he makes between “concrete universality” and “mundiality” (mundialidad, from mundus, world).

2. Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 51 (paragraph 29) (my translation).

3. Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 52 (paragraph 29) (my translation).

4. Enrique Dussel, The Invention of the Americas: Eclipse of “the Other” and the Myth of Modernity, 136-137. For an analysis of the two paradigms of modernity, one Eurocentric, global the other, see Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, pp. 50-65 (paragraphs 27-44).

5. Dussel, The Invention of the Americas: Eclipse of “the Other” and the Myth of Modernity, 138.

6. Dussel, The Invention of the Americas: Eclipse of “the Other” and the Myth of Modernity, 139.

7. Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 67-68 (paragraph 47) (my translation).

8. Robert Solomon, Continental Philosophy since 1750: The Rise and Fall of the Self (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 75.

9. Conversation with Gayle Ormiston at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, 1989.

10. Araceli Barbosa Sánchez, Sexo y conquista (Mexico: UNAM, 1994), 155.

11. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans., Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 30.

12. Ankie Hoogvelt, Globalization and the Postcolonial World: The New Political Economy of Development (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 2nd edition), 4.

13. Enrique Dussel, El encubrimiento del Indio: 1492. Hacia el origen del mito de la modernidad (Mexico: Editorial Cambio XXI, 1994, 2nd edition), 66 (English translation: Enrique Dussel, The Invention of the Americas: Eclipse of “the Other”and the Myth of Modernity, 48. See also Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 68 (paragraph 47).

14. See Anthony Pagden’s critical edition of Hernán Cortés, Letters from Mexico (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986).

15. Dussel expresses agreement with Tzvetan Todorov’s The Conquest of America, for using Levinasian categories to understand that process (See Dussel, El encubrimiento del Indio: 1492, 80, n. 24; English translation: The Invention of the Americas, 165, n.25). However, we should keep in mind that, according to Todorov, one of the fundamental reasons for the success of Cortés’ enterprise lied in his linguistic superiority over Montezuma and, by an implication Todorov himself makes, of the European over the Indian. This linguistic superiority also translated for Todorov in the superior epistemological capacity, vis-à-vis the Indian, of the European to know the Other. Todorov goes farther and also claims to show that Cortés knew the Other better than Las Casas did. In these two issues there is a fundamental disagreement between Dussel’s and Todorov’s positions [see Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, trans., Richard Howard (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1984, 62ff. and 167ff.]. For, Dussel claims that Cortés “had not understood anything of the ‘argumentative world’ of the Other” (Dussel, El encubrimiento del Indio: 1492, 155, my translation; The Invention of the Americas, 103). This was due, it seems, to Cortés’ solipsism (Dussel, El encubrimiento del Indio: 1492, 66; The Invention of the Americas, 48. Finally, Dussel also claims Las Casas represents the most advanced European perspective, “the maximum of critical consciousness possible” (Dussel, El encubrimiento del Indio: 1492, 99, my translation; The Invention of the Americas, 72).

16. Enrique Dussel, Método para una filosofía de la liberación. Superación analéctica de la dialéctica hegeliana (México: Editorial Universidad de Guadalajara, 1991, 3rd edition; 1970-1974), 186.

17. Dussel, Método para una filosofía de la liberación. Superación analéctica de la dialéctica hegeliana, 186.

18. See Enrique Dussel, “La razón del otro. La interpelación como acto-de-habla,” in Enrique Dussel, ed., Debate en torno a la ética del discurso de Apel. Diálogo filosófico Norte-Sur desde América Latina (México: Siglo XXI Editores, 1994), 83

19. Enrique Dussel, “Tesis provisorias para una filosofía de la liberación” (1980), in Enrique Dussel, Praxis latinoamericana y filosofía de la liberación [Bogotá: Editorial Nueva América, 1994, 2nd edition (1983)], 35.

20. Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 70 (paragraph 50) (my translation).

21. Enrique Dussel, Filosofía ética Latinoamericana, vol. I: Presupuestos de una filosofía de la liberación (Mexico: Editorial Edicol, 1977), 57 (my translation). The first edition was published in 1971 with the title Para una ética de la liberación Latinoamericana.

22. See Enrique Dussel, “Superación de la ontología dialéctica. La filosofía de la liberación latinoamericana” (1974), in Enrique Dussel, Método para una filosofía de la liberación. Superación analéctica de la dialéctica hegeliana (Mexico: Editorial Universidad de Guadalajara, 1991, 3rd edition; 1974, 2nd edition), 181ff.

23. Dussel, “Superación de la ontología dialéctica,” 187.

24. Dussel, Filosofía ética Latinoamericana, vol. I: Presupuestos de una filosofía de la liberación, 12 (my translation).

25. Dussel, El encubrimiento del Indio: 1492. Hacia el origen del mito de la modernidad, 211 (my translation). See English translation, The Invention of the Americas: Eclipse of “the Other” and the Myth of Modernity, 138-139.

26. Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 215 (paragraph 159).

27. Enrique Dussel, La producción teórica de Marx. Un comentario a los Grundrisse (Mexico: Siglo XXI Editores, 1991, 2nd edition (1st edition, 1985)), 16 (my translation).

28. Dussel, Hacia un Marx desconocido. Un comentario de los “Manuscritos del 61-63” (Mexico: Siglo XXI Editores, 1988), 63-64.

29. Thus, in a criticism of an analysis of his Marxism, Dussel refers to the living labor of the poor itinerant workers of the Middle Ages as an “absolute poverty,” which is “never in a ‘past system’” [see Enrique Dussel, “Epilogue,” in Linda Martín Alcoff and Eduardo Mendieta, eds., Thinking from the Underside of History: Enrique Dussel’s Philosophy of Liberation (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), 287]. What is valuable in this criticism is the implication that we need a meta-historical conceptual framework to make ethical judgments. Any such framework must strive to keep sight of the historical factors that gave rise to that “absolute” poverty or to the historicity of the struggle against it. I think it may be fruitful here to go back to the Habermas of Knowledge and Human Interests and bring together the quasi-transcendentality of interests, which are already in the work by Habermas of that period very formalistic, with Dussel’s material ethical principle that affirms “the life of each human subject in a community of life” (Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion 132, paragraph 102).

30. Dussel, Ética de la liberación en la edad de la globalización y la exclusion, 140 (paragraph 111): The “material principle of ethics includes the point of departure and contains the ‘matter’ of all subsequent moments (formal-procedural, of factibility, critical or of liberation”

31. Hoogvelt, Globalization and the Postcolonial World, 97.

32. Hoogvelt, Globalization and the Postcolonial World, 173ff.

33. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 226.

34. Hardt and Negri, Empire, 396 ff. See also 102 for distinction between “people” and “multitude.”



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