Editorial Temis has performed a valuable service to students of both Colombian history and Latin American thought by bringing out a second printing of this brilliant and comprehensive study of nineteenth-century Colombian thought. With the exception of the format, the 1974 edition is exactly the same as the original (Bogotá, 1964).
Colombia produced little in the way of original thought or philosophy. For the most part the history of Colombian thought is found in the political essay, a genre at which Colombian scholars and political activists were particularly fecund. Unlike political thinkers in Argentina or Chile, the Colombian political essayists were little known outside their own country. They wrote primarily as polemicists in the never-ending struggle for either Liberal or Conservative Party dominance. Often engaged as protagonists in the political arena, and focusing their attention on the solution of their own political problems, they did not generally write for a wider hemispheric readership. The result has been one of negligence in the use of Colombian writers to search for answers to the nineteenth-century political dilemma in Latin America. The distinguished Colombian historian, Jaime Jaramillo Uribe, has brought together in one volume the trajectory of political thought in Colombia’s quest for a proper balance between liberty and order.
Jaramillo organized his study into three parts. One traces the conflict between those who held to the Spanish heritage and those who sought to give a new spiritual identity to the country. Another follows the development of political ideas from independence to the thought of Miguel Antonio Caro, a period through which Colombia tried various European political formulas—copying and imitating, but always making adjustments to fit the peculiar Latin political and social temperament. A third part treats philosophical thought from scholasticism and the Enlightenment to the neo-classicism of Rafael María Carrasquilla. The extremely logical organization enhances the study and makes it a useful reference work quite apart from its value as a general history of Colombian thought.
Jaramillo’s work is balanced, objective and thoughtful. If I were to recommend that students read one single volume on nineteenth-century Colombia, I would choose this book. An English translation would be most useful to complement the studies available in English by Leopoldo Zea and José Luis Romero.