My research is primarily in phenomenology, philosophy of perception, Latin American and Latinx philosophy, social epistemology, and social ontology. I am engaged in conversations informed by and situated in classical Husserlian phenomenology and contemporary phenomenology. My research and teaching engages often with value questions in ethics, applied ethics, and in the sociopolitical aspects of social identities.
I am interested in how our perceptual mode of knowing is embedded in our living with others and our knowing others. In this moment, I am working on the perceptual basis of the way social identities function in the social world, and the epistemological implications of this partly perceptual way of functioning. Some of the work I’ve been doing has become more clearly shaped as work on the ontology of social identities in general.
My current work in Latin American and Latinx philosophy has two main targets. One of them concerns the question of the identity of Latinx folks in the United States. In this work, a collaborative project with Adam Burgos from Bucknell University, we explore how the embodied, pragmatically situated social identity of Latinx folks in the U.S. should be understood, since the categories of race and ethnicity, we argue, are insufficient to do this job. This work elaborates and applies some of my own work in the perception of social identities to the case of Latinx folks in the US. We contend that a social reality as fluid and contextual as this social identity requires some conceptual resources that are not found in the race and ethnicity framework. A component of our work is a conceptualization of social identities, a piece of social ontology.
Second, I am interested in the development of Latin American thought about the social dimension of our lives. In particular, I am exploring the conceptualization of sociality along the lines of the phenomenological category of ‘intersubjectivity,’ and how its reception by some Latin American thinkers makes points in directions that go beyond traditional phenomenology. I contend that, particularly in the philosophies of Jorge Mañach and Jorge Portilla, we can trace a sense that ‘intersubjectivity’ was insufficient to capture essential elements of social life, and that the answer is to add elements that can be identified as pragmatist in nature.
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In perception, I have written on (and continue to explore) the idea that human perception is a type of socially constituted, direct interaction with the world. I am currently working in the role of context and background in perception and in the epistemological importance of the essentially perspectival nature of perception. My current interests in social epistemology are about how sensory perception is at the basis of our interactions with others, and how this role helps us understand social relations based on visible identities, and contributes to understand the responsibilities we have towards each other. At the moment, I am working on the question of whether the perception of biological motion entails perception of minimal forms of intentionality and agency.
I believe that students of philosophy can learn valuable lessons from philosophy classes, whether they are philosophy majors or not. I study and reflect on philosophy and pedagogy, and write on these topics as well.
In the digital story What We See, right below, I remember and reconstruct some of the motivations that got me thinking about perception and sociality.
Like trees we grow – it’s hard to understand, like all life! – not in one place, but everywhere; not in one direction, but upwards and outwards and inwards and downwards equally; our energy drives trunk, branches, and roots all at once. — Nietzsche, The Gay ScienceNietzsche, The Gay Science