April 18, 2005 – Enrique Dussel: “Will to Power, Will to Live: Towards a Politics of Liberation”

Will to Power, Will to Live: Towards a Politics of Liberation
Monday, April 18 / 4–6 PM / Oakes Mural Room

Planetary Politics,  With Enrique Dussel, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Eduardo Mendieta
Tuesday, April 19 / 4–6 PM / Oakes Mural Room

• “Preface,” “Introduction,” and “The ‘World System’: Europe as ‘Center’ and Its ‘Periphery’ beyond Eurocentrism.” From Enrique Dussel, Beyond Philosophy: Ethics, History, Marxism, and Liberation Theology (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), edited and Introduction by Eduardo Mendieta.
• Enrique Dussel, “Six Theses towards a Critique of Political Reason: The Citizen as Political Agent,” Eduardo Mendieta, “Politics in an Age of Planetarization: Enrique Dussel’s Critique of Political Reason.” From David Ingram, ed. The Political (Blackwell, 2002).

Readings may be requested by email up to one week in advance from cult@ucsc.edu.

Enrique Dussel is Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitina-Iztapalapa and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He is the main spokesperson for the Latin American movement known as liberation philosophy. He is author of over 50 books and 300 articles. His work in English includes The Underside of Modernity (Humanities, 1996), The Invention of the Americas (Continuum, 1995), Ethics and Community (Orbis, 1988), and Philosophy of Liberation (Orbis, 1985). He is presently finishing a two-volume work entitled Politics of Liberation.

The problem…is the question of the overcoming of the “world system” itself, such as it has developed until today for the last five hundred years. The problem is the exhaustion of a civilizing system that has come to its end. What presupposes the liberation of diverse types of oppressed and/or excluded populations are the overcoming of cynical-management reason (planetary administrative), of capitalism (as economic system), of liberalism (as political system), of Eurocentrism (as ideology), of machismo (in erotics), of the reign of the white race (in racism), the destruction of nature (in ecology), and so on.

— from “The ‘World System’: Europe as ‘Center’ and Its ‘Periphery’ beyond Eurocentrism”

In his Ethics of Liberation, Dussel developed an ethics that brought together the material dimension of all systems of ethical life with the formal or procedural dimension of all moral systems. The point of ethics is neither what is proper to an ethos, nor what is just, given conditions of equity, nor even what is allowed and possible within a horizon of materiality. Instead, the aim of an ethics is goodness or beneficence (bondad), which is the synthesis of the material, the formal, and the possible. Dussel argued that an ethics is not worth that name if it does not acknowledge that there are always victims of the established orders of ethos and justice. For this reason, every ethics must contain a critical dimension. In his Politics of Liberation, Dussel seeks to extend these insights to the realm of the political. In the first part of the Politics, Dussel provides a world-historical analysis of the origins of the modern political systems and their corresponding systems of political thought. In the second volume, Dussel elaborates what he has called “critical-political” principles: 1. The critical-strategic principle, or principle of liberation; 2. The critical-democratic principle, or the principle of the recognition of alterity; 3. The critical-material principle of deconstruction and creation, or the principle of solidarity.


Eduardo Mendieta is Rockefeller Fellow at the Center for Cultural Studies.

Nelson Maldonado-Torres is Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. His work reflects on religion, philosophical anthropology, social and cultural formations in the Americas, and the role of critical intellectual activity in the context of global coloniality. His forthcoming Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity examines Jewish, Latin American, and Black responses to modernity.

This lecture/seminar series is presented in conjunction with the Center’s Rockefeller foundation fellowship program in Other Globalizations: Histories, Trans-regionalism,and Cultural Formations.