Aztec philosophy

Aztec philosophy was a school of philosophy that developed out of Aztec culture. The Aztecs had a well-developed school of philosophy, perhaps the most developed in the Americas and in many ways comparable to Ancient Greek philosophy, even amassing more texts than the ancient Greeks.[1] Aztec philosophy focused on dualism, monism, and aesthetics, and Aztec philosophers attempted to answer the main Aztec philosophical question of how to gain stability and balance in an ephemeral world.

Beliefs

Aztec philosophy saw the concept of Ometeotl as a unity that underlies the universe. Ometeotl forms, shapes, and is all things. Even things in opposition—light and dark, life and death—were seen as expressions of the same unity, Ometeotl. The belief in a unity with dualistic expressions compares with similar dialectical monist ideas in both Western and Eastern philosophies.[2]

Relation to Aztec religion

Aztec priests had a panentheistic view of religion but the popular Aztec religion maintained polytheism. Priests saw the different gods as aspects of the singular and transcendent unity of Teotl but the masses were allowed to practice polytheism without understanding the true, unified nature of their Aztec gods.[2]

Moral beliefs and aesthetics

Aztec philosophers focused on morality as establishing balance. The world was seen as constantly shifting with the ever-changing teotl. Morality focused on finding the path to living a balanced life, which would provide stability in the shifting world.[2]

Aztec philosophy saw the arts as a way to express the true nature of teotl.[2] Art was considered to be good if it in some way brought about a better understanding of teotl.[2] Aztec poetry was closely tied to philosophy and often used to express philosophic concepts.[2][3] Below is an example of such a poem, translated from the original Nahuatl:

No one comes on this earth to stay
Our bodies are like rose trees -
They grow petals then wither and die.
But our hearts are like grass in the springtime,
They live on and forever grow green again.

Texts

There is a dearth of material from which Aztec philosophy can be studied with a majority of extant texts written after conquest by either Spanish colonists and missionaries, or Christianised Spanish educated natives. Pre-conquest sources include the Codex Borgia and the Codex Borbonicus (written about the time of conquest). Post-conquest texts include the Florentine Codex, Codex Mendoza and the Codex Magliabechiano, including others.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. p, 121.
  2. ^ a b c d e f James Maffie (2005). "Aztec Philosophy". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  3. ^ Mann, 122-123
  4. ^ "Aztec Philosophy - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". www.iep.utm.edu. Retrieved 8 April 2018.

Sources:

  • Maffie, James; Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion; 2014 : NDPReview.
  • Leon-Portilla, Miguel; Native Mesoamerican Spirituality; Jun 27 2002.
  • Leon-Portilla, Miguel; Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind; 1990.
  • Leon-Portilla, Miguel; Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World; October 15, 2000.
Aztec Empire

The Aztec Empire, or the Triple Alliance (Classical Nahuatl: Ēxcān Tlahtōlōyān, [ˈjéːʃkaːn̥ t͡ɬaʔtoːˈlóːjaːn̥]), began as an alliance of three Nahua altepetl city-states: Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. These three city-states ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico from 1428 until the combined forces of the Spanish conquistadores and their native allies under Hernán Cortés defeated them in 1521.

The Triple Alliance was formed from the victorious factions in a civil war fought between the city of Azcapotzalco and its former tributary provinces. Despite the initial conception of the empire as an alliance of three self-governed city-states, Tenochtitlan quickly became dominant militarily. By the time the Spanish arrived in 1519, the lands of the Alliance were effectively ruled from Tenochtitlan, while the other partners in the alliance had taken subsidiary roles.

The alliance waged wars of conquest and expanded rapidly after its formation. At its height, the alliance controlled most of central Mexico as well as some more distant territories within Mesoamerica, such as the Xoconochco province, an Aztec exclave near the present-day Guatemalan border. Aztec rule has been described by scholars as "hegemonic" or "indirect". The Aztecs left rulers of conquered cities in power so long as they agreed to pay semi-annual tribute to the Alliance, as well as supply military forces when needed for the Aztec war efforts. In return, the imperial authority offered protection and political stability, and facilitated an integrated economic network of diverse lands and peoples who had significant local autonomy.

The state religion of the empire was polytheistic, worshiping a diverse pantheon that included dozens of deities. Many had officially recognized cults large enough so that the deity was represented in the central temple precinct of the capital Tenochtitlan. The imperial cult, specifically, was that of Huitzilopochtli, the distinctive warlike patron god of the Mexica. Peoples in conquered provinces were allowed to retain and freely continue their own religious traditions, so long as they added the imperial god Huitzilopochtli to their local pantheons.

Aztec religion

The Aztec religion is that originating from the Aztecs in central Mexico. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals on the Aztec calendar. Polytheistic in its theology, the religion recognized a large and ever increasing pantheon of gods and goddesses; the Aztecs would often incorporate deities whose cults came from other geographic regions or peoples into their own religious practice.

Aztec cosmology divides the world into thirteen heavens and nine earthly layers or netherworlds (the first heaven overlapping with the first terrestrial layer, heaven and earth meeting at the surface of the Earth), each level associated with a specific set of deities and astronomical objects. The most important celestial entities in Aztec religion were the Sun, the Moon, and the planet Venus (both as "morning star" and "evening star"). Aztecs were popularly referred to as "People of the Sun."

Many leading deities of the Aztec pantheon were worshipped by previous Mesoamerican civilizations, gods such as Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, who were venerated by different names in most cultures throughout the history of Mesoamerica. For the Aztecs especially important deities were the rain god Tlaloc, the god Huitzilopochtli—patron of the Mexica tribe, Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent, wind god, culture hero, and god of civilization and order, and Tezcatlipoca, the shrewd elusive god of destiny and fortune, connected with war and sorcery. Each of these gods had their own shrine, side-by-side at the top of the largest pyramid in the Aztec capital Mexico-Tenochtitlan—Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were both worshipped here at this dual temple, while a third monument in the plaza before the Templo Mayor was devoted to the wind god Ehecatl.

Dialectical monism

Dialectical monism, also known as dualistic monism, is an ontological position that holds that reality is ultimately a unified whole, distinguishing itself from monism by asserting that this whole necessarily expresses itself in dualistic terms. For the dialectical monist, the essential unity is that of complementary polarities, which, while opposed in the realm of experience and perception, are co-substantial in a transcendent sense.

Five Suns

The term Five Suns in the context of creation myths, describes the doctrine of the Aztec and other Nahua peoples in which the present world was preceded by four other cycles of creation and destruction. It is primarily derived from the mythological, cosmological and eschatological beliefs and traditions of earlier cultures from central Mexico and the Mesoamerican region in general. The Late Postclassic Aztec society inherited many traditions concerning Mesoamerican creation accounts, while however modifying some aspects and supplying novel interpretations of their own.

In the creation myths which were known to the Aztec and other Nahua peoples of the Late Postclassic era, the central tenet was that there had been four worlds, or "Suns", before the present universe. These earlier worlds and their inhabitants had been created, then destroyed by the catastrophic action of leading deity figures. The present world is the fifth sun, and the Aztec saw themselves as "the People of the Sun," whose divine duty was to wage cosmic war in order to provide the sun with his tlaxcaltiliztli ("nourishment"). Without it, the sun would disappear from the heavens. Thus the welfare and the very survival of the universe depended upon the offerings of blood and hearts to the sun.

History of syphilis

The first recorded outbreak of syphilis in Europe occurred in 1494/1495 in Naples, Italy, during a French invasion. Because it was spread by returning French troops, the disease was known as "French disease", and it was not until 1530 that the term "syphilis" was first applied by the Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro. The causative organism, Treponema pallidum, was first identified by Fritz Schaudinn and Erich Hoffmann in 1905. The first effective treatment, Salvarsan, was developed in 1910 by Sahachirō Hata in the laboratory of Paul Ehrlich. It was followed by the introduction of penicillin in 1943.Many well-known historical figures, including Scott Joplin, Franz Schubert, Al Capone, and Édouard Manet are believed to have contracted the disease.

La Bamba (film)

La Bamba is a 1987 American biographical film written and directed by Luis Valdez that follows the life and career of Chicano rock 'n' roll star Ritchie Valens. The film stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Valens, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Danielle von Zerneck, and Joe Pantoliano. The film depicts the impact Valens' career had on the lives of his half-brother Bob Morales, his girlfriend Donna Ludwig and the rest of his family.

In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Mexicayotl

Mexicayotl (Nahuatl word meaning "Essence of the Mexican", "Mexicanity"; Spanish: Mexicanidad; see -yotl) is a movement reviving the indigenous religion, philosophy and traditions of ancient Mexico (Aztec religion and Aztec philosophy) among the Mexican people.The movement came to light in the 1950s, led by Mexico City intellectuals, but has grown significantly on a grassroots level only in more recent times, also spreading to the Mexican immigrants to the United States. Their rituals involve the mitotiliztli (meaning “to be compelled by or said in dance; for a story to be told in an animated manner”). The followers, called Mexicatl (singular) and Mexicah (plural), or simply Mexica, are mostly urban and sub-urban dwellers.

Monotheism

Monotheism is defined as the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world. A broader definition of monotheism is the belief in one god. A distinction may be made between exclusive monotheism, and both inclusive monotheism and pluriform (panentheistic) monotheism which, while recognising various distinct gods, postulate some underlying unity.Monotheism is distinguished from henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity, and monolatrism, the recognition of the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term "monolatry" was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.The broader definition of monotheism characterizes the traditions of Bábism, the Bahá'í Faith, Balinese Hinduism, Cao Dai (Caodaiism), Cheondoism (Cheondogyo), Christianity, Deism, Eckankar, Hindu sects such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Islam, Judaism, Mandaeism, Rastafari, Seicho no Ie, Sikhism, Tengrism (Tangrism), Tenrikyo (Tenriism), Yazidism, and Zoroastrianism, and elements of pre-monotheistic thought are found in early religions such as Atenism, ancient Chinese religion, and Yahwism.

Nanahuatzin

In Aztec mythology, the god Nanahuatzin or Nanahuatl (or Nanauatzin, the suffix -tzin implies respect or familiarity; Classical Nahuatl: Nanāhuātzin [nanaːˈwaːtsin]), the most humble of the gods, sacrificed himself in fire so that he would continue to shine on Earth as the sun, thus becoming the sun god. Nanahuatzin means "full of sores." According to a translation of the Histoyre du Mechique, Nanahuatzin is the son of Itzpapalotl and Cuzcamiahu or Tonan, but was adopted by Piltzintecuhtli and Xōchiquetzal. In the Codex Borgia, Nanahuatzin is represented as a man emerging from a fire. This was originally interpreted as an illustration of cannibalism. He is probably an aspect of Xolotl.

Native American religion

Native American religions are the spiritual practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. This article focuses on Native North Americans. Traditional Native American ceremonial ways can vary widely and are based on the differing histories and beliefs of individual tribes, clans, and bands. Early European explorers describe individual Native American tribes and even small bands as each having their own religious practices. Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, shamanistic, pantheistic or any combination thereof, among others. Traditional beliefs are usually passed down in the forms of oral histories, stories, allegories, and principles, and rely on face to face teaching in one's family and community.

Panentheism

Panentheism (meaning "all-in-God", from the Ancient Greek πᾶν pân, "all", ἐν en, "in" and Θεός Theós, "God") is the belief that the divine pervades and interpenetrates every part of the universe and also extends beyond space and time. The term was coined by the German philosopher Karl Krause in 1828 to distinguish the ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854) about the relation of God and the universe from the supposed pantheism of Baruch Spinoza. Unlike pantheism, which holds that the divine and the universe are identical, panentheism maintains an ontological distinction between the divine and the non-divine and the significance of both.

In panentheism, God is viewed as the soul of the universe, the universal spirit present everywhere, which at the same time "transcends" all things created.

While pantheism asserts that "all is God", panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe. Some versions of panentheism suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifestation of God. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the Kabbalah concept of tzimtzum. Also much Hindu thought – and consequently Buddhist philosophy – is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism. The basic tradition however, on which Krause's concept was built, seems to have been Neoplatonic philosophy and its successors in Western philosophy and Orthodox theology.

Philosophical skepticism

Philosophical skepticism (UK spelling: scepticism; from Greek σκέψις skepsis, "inquiry") is a philosophical school of thought that questions the possibility of certainty in knowledge. Skeptic philosophers from different historical periods adopted different principles and arguments, but their ideology can be generalized as either (1) the denial of possibility of all knowledge or (2) the suspension of judgement due to the inadequacy of evidence.

Philosophy

Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? Do humans have free will?Historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics. For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy later became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.

Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics ("concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being"), epistemology (about the "nature and grounds of knowledge [and]...its limits and validity"), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, logic and philosophy of science.

Philosophy of motion

Philosophy of motion is a branch of philosophy concerned with exploring questions on the existence and nature of motion. The central questions of this study concern the epistemology and ontology of motion, whether motion exists as we perceive it, what is it, and, if it exists, how does it occur. The philosophy of motion is important in the study of theories of change in natural systems and is closely connected to studies of space and time in philosophy.

The philosophy of motion was of central concern to Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, particularly the pre-Socratic philosophers such as Parmenides, Zeno of Elea, Heraclitus and Democritus. As such, it was influential in the development of the philosophy of science in general.

Religious philosophy

Religious philosophy is philosophical thinking that is inspired and directed by a particular religion. It can be done objectively, but may also be done as a persuasion tool by believers in that faith.

There are different philosophies for each religion such as those of:

Aztec philosophy

Buddhist philosophy

Christian philosophy

Hindu philosophy

Islamic philosophy

Jain philosophy

Jewish philosophy

Sikh philosophy

Taoist philosophy

Zoroastrian philosophy

Thirteen Heavens

The Nahua people such as the Aztecs, Chichimecs and the Toltecs believed that the heavens were constructed and separated into 13 levels, usually called Topan or simply each one Ilhuicatl iohhui, Ilhuicatl iohtlatoquiliz. Each level had from one to many Lords (gods) living in and ruling them.

Xolotl

In Aztec mythology, Xolotl (Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈʃolot͡ɬ] (listen)) was the god with associations to both lightning and death. He was associated with the sunset and would guard the Sun as it traveled through the underworld every night. Dogs were associated with Xolotl. This deity and a dog were believed to lead the soul on its journey to the underworld. He was commonly depicted as a monstrous dog. Xolotl was the god of fire and lightning. He was also god of twins, monsters, misfortune, sickness, and deformities. Xolotl is the canine brother and twin of Quetzalcoatl, the pair being sons of the virgin Coatlicue. He is the dark personification of Venus, the evening star, and was associated with heavenly fire.

Yolteotl

Yolteotl is a Nahua word from Mexico meaning the "heart of God" or someone who contains an almost spiritual creativity ("an enlightened mind"). It is composed of yollotl (heart) and teotl (God, spirit, force, or movement). In Yaqui/Chicana spirituality, which can combine aspects of traditional and Catholic " 'root concepts' (which resonate in all the world's religions)," Yolteotl compares with the Catholic concept of The Sacred Heart (Spanish: El Sagrado Corazon).Philosophically, Yolteotl is a state of oneness with the universe to be obtained through personal efforts, similar to Nirvana in Buddhism, although Nirvana is an inward form of enlightenment while Yolteotl is an outward form of enlightenment geared towards creation.

Ōmeyōcān

Omeyocan is the highest of thirteen heavens in Aztec mythology, the dwelling place of Ometeotl, the dual god comprising Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl.

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