This work by James Maffie both praises and goes far beyond the preliminary findings that Miguel León Portilla presented in his landmark work La filosofia Nahuatl (1956, translated as Aztec Thought and Culture, 1963). Maffie’s contribution is a mature, rounded, and nuanced look at the philosophical underpinnings of a culture that has been widely misunderstood through history. This is a very cogent and well-written analysis of the philosophical bases of Aztec civilization. Maffie uses the term Aztec because of its utility rather than the more cumbersome Tenochca-Mexica, as he explains early on.

Unlike earlier scholarship, Maffie approaches the issue of Aztec philosophy by looking into metaphysics: “how its claims, concepts, metaphors, and arguments fit together” (3). But to accomplish that, it is necessary to determine exactly what the Aztecs believed. At multiple points in his exposition, he considers countering arguments....

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