Renowned Latin American Philosopher Enrique Dussel Dies at 88

Enrique Dussel, pioneering theorist of Latin American philosophy and co-founder of Mexico's MORENA party, died aged 88.

Enrique Domingo Dussel Ambrosini, an influential Argentine-born Mexican philosopher, historian, and theologian, died on Sunday, November 5th, at the age of 88. Dussel was renowned for his pioneering work in the field of Latin American philosophy and his advocacy for liberation theology.

Dussel was born in Mendoza, Argentina, on December 24, 1934. He studied philosophy at the National University of Cuyo in Argentina, graduating in 1957. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Complutense University of Madrid in 1959 and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Paris in 1967.

In 1975, Dussel moved to Mexico City after receiving death threats due to his political activism in Argentina. He became a naturalized Mexican citizen and spent most of his academic career teaching in Mexico.

Dussel was a prolific writer, publishing over 70 books and 400 articles during his lifetime. He pioneered the Philosophy of Liberation movement in Latin America and is considered one of the most influential Latin American philosophers of the 20th century.

Confirmation of Death

The news of Dussel’s passing was announced by his son, Enrique Dussel Peters, on social media late Sunday night.

“Today, November 5, 2023, at 8:50 p.m., Enrique Domingo Dussel Ambrosini, husband, father, grandfather, professor, theologian, philosopher, historian, professor, and critical thinker, passed away. May he rest in peace,” wrote Dussel Peters.

The cause of death has not been made public at this time. Dussel was 88 years old.

Reaction from the Academic Community

Dussel’s death has elicited an outpouring of grief and remembrances from scholars across Latin America and worldwide.

He was hailed as one of the great thinkers and towering figures of Latin American philosophy and liberation theology. Colleagues emphasized his original, profound contributions to fields ranging from ethics and politics to history and economics.

“Latin American thought has lost one of its most lucid and committed minds,” tweeted renowned Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where Dussel taught for many years, issued a statement mourning the passing of “a brilliant philosopher and dialectical thinker whose ethical vision deeply impacted our institution.”

Dussel's thinking was key in shaping AMLO's 4T ideology. Photo: X/@@@PartidoMorenaMx
Dussel’s thinking was key in shaping AMLO’s 4T ideology. Photo: X/@@@PartidoMorenaMx

Political Legacy

In addition to his scholarly work, Dussel was actively involved in leftist politics both in Argentina and Mexico. He was a founding member of Mexico’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and helped draft the party’s constitution.

López Obrador paid tribute to Dussel in a press conference on Monday morning, calling him a “great ally” of the Fourth Transformation movement in Mexico.

“His contributions helped us build this project of progressive transformation,” said López Obrador.

Dussel’s death is a major loss for MORENA and its ideological outlook just as the party consolidates its hold on power in Mexico.

In Memoriam

Enrique Dussel will be remembered as one of the key architects of liberation philosophy and theology in the 20th century. His books, essays, and ideas will continue to be studied and debated by scholars across disciplines.

There will likely be numerous tributes and commemorations held in Dussel’s honor, especially in Mexico, where he spent most of his later career. Intellectuals and politicians will reflect on his advocacy for the oppressed and his vision for a just society.

While he has passed on, Dussel’s powerful call for a philosophy rooted in ethics and human dignity remains profoundly relevant. His unique perspective has left an indelible mark on generations of critical thinkers in Latin America and around the world. Dussel’s legacy will live on through those he inspired to build more equitable and inclusive societies.