Philosophical contributions from the South: Concept of Praxis Philosophical bases for a Critical Theory from the Americas
Prof. Dr. Stefan Gandler
In the following pages, we will examine the approach to the concept of praxis from the important Spain-born Mexican philosopher Sánchez Vázquez (Algeciras, Spain 1915 - Mexico City 2011). After all, in the contemporary praxis of social emancipation, there exist contradictions, flaws, and aberrations, which indicate that an immediatist and spontaneous ‘just do it’ approach hostile to theory will not suffice. At the same time, contemporary Western theoretical debate regarding social relations has moved away from all serious, practical (and radical) attempts at intervention to such a point that, also for this reason, it seems necessary again to deal with a theorist who is interested in understanding the relationship between theory and praxis – including transformative and emancipatory praxis – and, in so doing, to develop a critique of both social actions divorced from theory as well as theory divorced from political and social praxis. Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez begins his research in his first principal book, Philosophy of Praxis , with a first definition of praxis and this definition, in turn, sets out from the position occupied by the corresponding terms in various European languages, as well as their history. Alongside the word ‘praxis’, a transliteration of the Greek word , which means ‘action’ in the most immediate sense, Sánchez Vázquez’s language also makes use of the parallel expression ‘práctica’. In Spanish, both terms (‘praxis’ and ‘práctica’) can be used synonymously, but the latter is common in colloquial and literary language, whereas the former ‘resides only – and not even always – in a philosophical vocabulary’ . Italian similarly possesses two terms: ‘prassi’ and ‘practica’; in French the term ‘pratique’ is used almost exclusively , and in everyday’s life Russian and English only пра́ктика (práktica) and ‘practice’ are used, respectively. German, according to Sánchez Vázquez, is an exception, since it knows only the transcription of the Greek word, that is, ‘Praxis’, and unlike the other languages mentioned lacks its own linguistic development in this regard.