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The Filipino Mind - Leonardo Mercado

The Filipino Mind - Leonardo Mercado

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Published by: Flora Niña Remaneses Rey on Jun 17, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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  by George F. McLean
It would be difficult to overestimate the accomplishment of this volume and of thetwenty years of work by Leonardo Mercado which it reflects, and indeed celebrates. Hiswork has pioneered a new approach to philosophy which enables particular peoples touncover their deepest human commitments and thereby to enrich the patrimony of humanwisdom for all peoples.To appreciate this one must revisit with Heidegger the fatal choice made by Socrates andPlato to search for clarity of vision regarding the virtues and principles which guidehuman life. This search evolved through the development of abstraction by Aristotle andwas intensified by Descartes' aim of rational clarity and distinctness which would enableone "to walk with confidence in this world." Over time, philosophy in Graeco-Latintradition became increasingly effective for the management of things, analyzing realityand setting criteria for clarity. But this was accomplished at the cost of abandoning the person to ever greater manipulation and even suppression.The history of the last fifty years has been described as a process of liberation; in this theFilipino people played an early and heroic role. Philosophically this was reflected to the progressive discovery, especially through the development of the phenomenology, of thedistinctive character, first of the person, then of society, and eventually of culture as theconcrete realization of the creative freedom of a people.Leonardo Mercado was one of the first to appreciate the philosophical significance of thisevolution. When he wrote his first book on the subject the World Congresses of Philosophy were being devoted regularly to philosophy and science (Varna 1973, andDusseldorf 1978); it was not until the Montreal Congress in 1983 and after a longstruggle that culture was recognized as a philosophical theme, and indeed became a
for philosophical investigation.It was fitting that a decade earlier Leonardo Mercado should have made his pioneering breakthrough. For over a century the Divine Word missionary society of which he is amember had realized that the evangelization of a people required not a substitution, butan understanding of its culture. Its eminent review,
, became a leader in thework of anthropology. What L. Mercado added was a further step, namely, therecognition that the culture of each people reflected its experience of life and its geniusfor living in their circumstances, the foundational values of love and care for family, andof peace with neighbor and nature.Culture then is the real treasure house of a people and from this each people has itscontribution to make to the common heritage of human wisdom. How could access to thissource be gained; how could it be clarified and coordinated; how could it be transformed
so that in facing the pressures of changing times a people could shape the process of change taking place within the pattern of their deepest commitments and relationships?The development of a method for doing this, profusely illustrated in this volume, willremain one of L. Mercado's signal accomplishments. It draws richly upon studies of linguistics, ethnology and history, but pushes beyond to begin to articulate the deepvision of a people and of the principles and values by which they guide their life. Hissuccess in applying this method cross-culturally during three years of work in Papua NewGuinea, suggests that it has broad application.With this method L. Mercado has proceeded to write a flood of works on Filipino philosophy, theology, legal theory, etc., over the last twenty years. Its outstanding valuesoon became apparent. Before long it was reflected to varying degrees in the work of most philosophers in the Philippines. As has come to be seen only in the last ten years inother parts of the world, culture is not a curiosity but the stuff of a people's freedom. It bears the truly humane and humanizing achievements of their history and provides thecontext in which future generations can truly be educated.The present work, with its sections on the philosophy of the human person, on themetaphysics of beauty and of evil, and on ethics is a rich illustration of what has beendiscovered and a pointer to what can be found not only in the Filipino peoples, but in thelives of other peoples as well.An incident in March, 1994, illustrates the broad importance of this work for philosophy.After L. Mercado presented his study, Professor Kirti Bunchua, a leading philosopher for Thailand, observed that he had always thought that his own people did not have a philosophy, that philosophy was a foreign subject coming from the West. Upon hearingthe way in which L. Mercado unpacked the meaning of Filipino terms, however,Professor Bunchua said that he could see that his own people used analogous terms intheir language. For the first time he came to understand that his people did indeed have a philosophy and the way in which it could be accessed. At that moment the people of Thailand gained a new level of self-understanding and new possibilities for directing their life. They had taken a great step forward which promises to enrich them and indeed allhumankind.
George F. McLeanThe Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C.

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