The state and the person in the thought of Alberdi and Caso
Patton, Carl Jr
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The problem of the relationships between the person and state has been a persistent one in Latin American politics and thought. The problem of this investigation is the relationship between the person and the state in the thought of two modern Latin-American philosophers, Juan Bautista Alberdi (1829-1884) and Antonio Caso (1883-1946). Alberdi's basic point of departure was his resistance to the Rosas dictatorship. In his Las Bases y Puntos de Partida para la Organización Política de la República Argentina Alberdi sets forth the basic organization and the concept of freedom on which the Argentine Constitution is still patterned. As the defender of early Argentine Republican freedom, Alberdi occupied a similar place in Argentina to that which Hamilton or Jefferson occupied in this country's history. Antonio Caso, using the teachings of James and Bergson, opposed the prevalent Comtean positivism. Like Alberdi, Caso struggled against dictatorship; namely, the Diaz regime in Mexico. Caso defends the human person against encroachments by the state in his finest work La Persona Humana y el Estado Totalitario. The substance of this investigation can be expressed in terms of the chief agreements and disagreements in the positions of the two men. (1) They agree that persons should never be subjugated to the state. (2) They hold a common view of representative government. (3) Both men had legal backgrounds which colored their social philosophies and gave them a deep sense of justice where persons were concerned. (4) They held to the same essential functions of the state. (5) Both Alberdi and Caso defend freedom of religion, (6) support faith in progress, (7) and advocate adequate educational programs. They differ in (1) their metaphysical foundations; Alberdi's thought reflects "positivistic" tendencies, while Caso is an unsystematic eclectic idealist. (2) They hold different viewpoints about the nature of the human person; Alberdi believes in a legal person and Caso maintains a metaphysical person. (3) They have different proposals about the place of the state in society: Alberdi makes specific proposals following the liberal traditions of Adam Smith while Caso is interested primarily in the theoretical and moral basis for the state. (4) The men differ in their actual experiences in life since Alberdi spent most of his life as a lawyer, businessman, and diplomat and Caso remained in the academic life as a university professor and administrator. Although Alberdi and Caso operated with different philosophical assumptions they have relatively harmonious views of the person and his relationship to the state. Both persistently affirmed their belief in human persons as the basic units of value in society. Human value grows out of the belief that man is a creation of God and that associations formed by men must conform to the ideals of freedom, justice, and respect found in the Hebrew-Christian tradition. Thus each of these Latin-American social philosophers defends the liberty and freedom of the person against all authoritarian persons and institutions. Alberdi and Caso have made great contributions to their own countries and can contribute significantly to our understanding of Latin-America.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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