This is a commentary on the article "Anti-Cartesian Meditations: On the Origins of the Philosophical Anti-Discourse of Modernity" by Enrique Dussel published in this issue of the journal. According to the author, Dussel’s Anti-Cartesian Meditations suggest the following conclusions for a revisioning of the discipline of philosophy: (1) If, as Rorty suggests, the meaning of philosophy is simply the history of philosophy or whatever philosophers discuss, then European philosophy does not understand what philosophy is because it does not understand its own history of philosophy; (2) Given that Descartes’ skeptical, reasoning "I" is produced through conquest, and the claim of comparative supremacy of the specific individual against its cultural others, this is hardly a good foundation for a truly rational modernity. Such a source of reasoning is neither sufficient nor reliable in terms of knowing one’s self or knowing others, or certainly in knowing how one’s own ideas and beliefs are related to or influenced by those of others; (3) The revision of the history of rationalism, modernity, and epistemology suggested in Dussel’s account suggests a new way to understand the relationship and connection between secularism and rationalism, loosening the hold of the sometimes dogmatic assumption that secularism is the only route to rationalism; (4) Despite the intensity of Dussel’s critique, his work also suggests that there may be a way to usefully distinguish the modern from Modernity, or in other words to separate a genuinely normative sense of the modern as a reflexive operation of critique from the colonialist Modernity with its legacy of self-justification and false consciousness. In this case, there may be a way to salvage philosophy after all.
Alcoff, Linda Martín
"Philosophy, the Conquest, and the Meaning of Modernity A Commentary on "Anti-Cartesian Meditations: On the Origin of the Philosophical Anti-Discourse of Modernity" by Enrique Dussel,"
Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge:
1, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/humanarchitecture/vol11/iss1/6