Carlos Alberto Sánchez obtained a PhD from the University of New Mexico in 2006 and is currently Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State University. He busies himself with Mexican philosophy and related themes. He has published a number of articles and three books, From Epistemic Justification to Philosophical Authenticity (2010), The Suspension of Seriousness (2012), and Contingency and Commitment (2016). More recently, he co-edited, with Robert Eli Sanchez, Mexican Philosophy in the 20th Century: Essential Readings (Oxford, forthcoming 2017).
What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?
That would be “Philosophy and the Post-Immigrant Fear” (Journal for Philosophy in the Contemporary World, 18:1). It is a somewhat confessional piece of writing that, I’ve found, resonates with a lot of people—especially those who feel themselves existing in the margins of professional philosophy. I confess that it is not the best writing that I’ve done, but it is the one that I feel best captures my own experience as a Mexican American in philosophy (and the world) and best expresses my intuitions about how something like the fear of deportation is internalized both by those who experience it directly and those that inherit it as a consequence of historical accident.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a manuscript that deals with violence, brutality, and politics. It’s a philosophical reflection that begins with a consideration of the phenomenon of narco-culture, with the ways in which it reproduces itself through the spectacle of violence and brutality and the role that the State has in this reproduction. Sartre once said (in his Preface to Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth) that with violence, “man is reconstructing himself.” I believe this to be false; when violence turns to brutality (which it does in the narco “form of life”), it de-constructs humanity, a de-construction that brutality requires for its own reproduction, for brutality itself to be possible. This project expands on themes I worked on in a previously published paper, “The Politics of Brutality: Phenomenology at the Limits of Narco-Culture” (Phenomenology and the Political. Edited by Geoff Pfiffer and S. West Gurley. Routledge).
What topic do you think is under explored in philosophy?
It’s not really a topic, but a figure, namely the Mexican philosopher Emilio Uranga (1921-1988). Uranga wrote on themes in phenomenology, existentialism, pragmatism, and hermeneutics. He was a member of el grupo Hiperión, an existentialist collective active in post-War Mexico (1948-1952) who took on culturally relevant questions such as identity, mestizaje, and revolutionary politics. The hang-up in studying Uranga or someone like him is usually that the relevant works are not translated and so inaccessible. I don’t think that’s a valid excuse. Nevertheless, my translation work is an attempt to make this figure more accessible to mainstream scholars.
If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
I’d like to know if my children’s grandchildren will have any interest in my life as I’ve lived it—and by “any,” I mean any interest. Will I make it on a 3rd grade family tree? It’s selfish, I know, but that’s what I’d ask the ball.
What are your favorite books of all time?
My top three, in order, are:
- Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo,
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and
- James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.
The first two suck you in with magic, mysticism, violence, death, and beautiful prose and don’t let go; the third is a just a wonderful journey.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading Giorgio Agamben’s The Highest Poverty. It’s about monasticism and monastic rules. I think it’s fascinating. I would recommend it, especially if you have a secret fascination with the monastic life (which, for some reason, I do).
If you could have a one-hour conversation with any philosopher or historical figure from any time, who would you pick and what topic would you choose?
I would pick St. Francis of Assisi; I’d ask him to talk to me about joy.
What’s your favorite quote?
Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.
It’s said that Martin Luther said this, but there’s a theory that he didn’t. But whether or not he said it, I find these words quite powerful and beautiful.
What would you like your last meal to be?
I’d like it to be my mother’s red pork mole with two home-made flour tortillas on the side and an ice-cold Coke. She’d have to make it and it would have to be a lot of it. Kill me when I’m done.
Find out more about Carlos here.
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