The Family Grows: Beauty in Latin America

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This paper argues that beauty in Latin America has evolved over the past one hundred years through three stages—Utopian Roots, Theoretical Constructions, Critical Parings—and that the stages betray the same constant, the ineffability of beauty. This thesis rests on two assumptions: beauty is not universal but rather a cultural-construct, and the 34 countries and 540 million people in the region share at some level a common culture. In stage one, Utopian Roots, thinkers like José Enrique Rodó (Uruguay), Alejandro Octavio Deústua (Peru), Antonio Caso (Mexico), and José Vasconcelos (Mexico) break free of the positivism gripping the intellectuals of their countries in early twentieth century and place aesthetic activity at the heart of society. Caso makes the case for this stage of beauty. In stage two, Theoretical Constructions, Osvaldo Lira (Chile), Alejandro Tomasini Bassols (Mexico), Radoslav Ivelic K. (Chile), construct in the last third of the century theories covering beauty in art and nature to beauty as a transcendent entity. Ivelic speaks on beauty for this group. In stage three, Critical Parings, Enrique Tames (Mexico) and Orlando Hernández (Cuba), for example, pare back beauty to its manifestations among regional and local cultures like the Regla de Ocha people in Cuba, who discover in their rituals the presence of an energy akin to a blessing. This beneficial energy is beautiful but more…in other words, ineffable. Hernández typifies the thinking of this group on beauty. The conclusion evaluates strengths and weaknesses of beauty in Latin America, compares briefly the views of beauty from Europe-North America and Latin America, and identifies the significance of ineffable beauty for the peoples of Europe-North America.

Keywords: Latin America, Aesthetics, Beauty
Stream: Representations: Media, Communications, Arts, Literature
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Family Grows, The

Dr. Dan Vaillancourt

Professor, Philosophy Department, Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, IL, USA

Dr. Vaillancourt has served as chairman of humanities and graduate school dean, but he considers aesthetics his expertise and passion. He completed formal training in the field by majoring at the undergraduate level in philosophy and French literature and by specializing at the doctoral level in phenomenology and existentialism, with extensive study in the intersection of philosophy and literature. He won a French government scholarship, Fulbright grant, two Lilly grants, post-doctoral NEH grant, another NEH grant to serve as a Project Director, Title III grant, and 11 teacher of the year awards/commendations. He has created and taught six undergraduate and graduate courses in aesthetics, ranging from Philosophical Themes in Nobel Prize literature to Philosophy and Theatre, and, of course, Aesthetics. His publications include two books, dozens of articles, and three translations. He also edited a national magazine, Life Beat, for four years. Currently, he is writing for his website ( and completing two books, a philosophical novel (Aania) and Genius Next Door Beauty Series. He dances and plays the tenor recorder. Like Dostoevsky, he believes beauty changes the world.

Evelyn Salazar

Mulcahy Scholar, College of Arts and Sciences, Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, Il, USA

Ms. Salazar is a Mulcahy Scholar and Senior at Loyola University Chicago. She is majoring in Literature and Political Science with a minor in Women's Studies. She is fluent in Spanish and volunteers some of her time at her local church working with youth groups. After graduation, she plans to attend Law School, where she will focus her studies on immigration law.

Kathy Vaillancourt

Chicago, IL, USA

Kathy Vaillancourt earned degrees in Philosophy and Creative Writing at Mundelein College Chicago. She is the author of several hundred poems, children’s stories, book reviews, newspaper columns, and Looking Glass Woman: Reflections and Poems. She is currently writing My Father’s Hands, which remembers in reflections and poems transforming events like birth and death.

Ref: D08P0303