Res Philosophica

Volume 101, Issue 1, January 2024

Juan Garcia TorresOrcid-ID
Pages 55-80

Emilio Uranga and Jorge Portilla on Accidentality as a Decolonial Tool

Call ‘a substance’ a person who is at home in a relatively stable and unified sense-making framework: a social structure that to some degree specifies which categories are important for interpreting reality, which goals are worth pursing, which character traits are admirable, etc. Call ‘an accident’ a person who is not at home in one such framework. It is tempting to think that being a substance is preferable, but I present some considerations for thinking otherwise. Mexican philosophers Emilio Uranga and Jorge Portilla, I argue, present notions of accidentality as decolonial tools. Uranga’s account enables Mexicans to have positive valuation of their being independently of the approving gaze of the colonizers and their standards of value. Portilla’s thought distinguishes between pernicious accidentality resulting from the disintegration of sense-making frameworks and authentic accidentality as a condition for freedom, self-creation, and ultimately for individual and communal liberation.