Josef Estermann

Swiss author

Josef Estermann (born 1956) is a Swiss philosopher and theologian, known for his studies in the domain of interculturality, indigenous philosophies and theologies of Abya Yala, and the Andean worldview.



"Andean Philosophy as a Questioning Alterity: An Intercultural Criticism of Western Andro- and Ethnocentrism" (2009)

in Worldviews and Cultures Philosophical Reflections from an Intercultural Perspective, Edited by Nicole Note, Raúl Fornet-Betancourt, Josef Estermann and Diederik Aerts (Springer: 2009), pp. 129-148
  • If our objective is to find things in common and only that, we will fail to see the differences. The universalist claim of Western philosophy has often used the argument of commonality to enclose other philosophies in a paternalising embrace – contending that philosophy does not depend on gender, race or culture, being human at heart. As a result, its own cultural, ethnical and gender-related assumptions can barely be discerned.
    • p. 129
  • The famous saying of Karl Marx in his 11th “Thesis on Feuerbach” that until today philosophy only had interpreted the world, but that from now on and further it would be about changing it, this adage could very well be modified in the following sense: Until now, the dominant philosophy only has been interpreted as philosophy of the dominators, but the moment is coming that the kenosis have to serve the dominated and have to change the world from below.
    • p. 130
  • Since the stories of the Hebrew Bible, that were passed on by the Greeks and the Romans and reaching the conquerors and cultural imperialists of all times, the misleading but always convincing syllogism has been the same: “We have civilization and reason; the others are totally different (totaliter aliter) from us; ergo: the others do not have culture and reason.”
    • p. 131
  • Already in the verdict cited by Ginés de Sepúlveda are mentioned a lot of these criteria which the Western philosophical academy nowadays uses against the supposed “indigenous philosophies”: “culture”, “letters” (graficity), “history”, “written laws”. We are dealing with a violent and excluding act of “definition” that excludes a priori the other. When one defines “philosophy” as a product elaborated by individuals (philosophical persons) and expressed in written texts (essays, articles, books), using a binary logic and a discursive rationality, thus one excludes per definitionem all philosophical expressions that don’t have an individual author, that aren’t put down in writing, that don’t obey the logical principle of the formal non-contradiction and that apply a non-discursive rationality. Ergo: non philosophia est.
    • pp. 132-133
  • The situation of the era of Ginés de Sepúlveda essentially hasn’t changed: the Occident – now more the North-American stream than the Spanish – remains convinced of its “cultural superiority”, convinced of the right to bring its civilizing gospel to the whole world and transmit philosophical ideas to the “barbarian” peoples for their redemption. The conditions of the process and the actual strategies of economic and cultural globalization do not favor an inclusive dialogue between the dominant Western philosophy and the Andean philosophy in which both play an equivalent role.
    • p. 136
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