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Living Borders: On the Vagueness of my Idenity as an American Philosopher

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In this paper, I use William James’ exploration of vagueness to reflect critically upon two intertwined identities and their frequently ignored racial/ethnic character: my own personal identity and the identity of American Philosophy. My method will be simultaneously personal and philosophical, inspired by what Gloria Anzaldúa called autohistoria-teoría, or “a personal essay that theorizes”. In the first section of my paper, I lay out James’ attempt to “reinstate the vague and inarticulate to its proper place in our mental life.” In the second, I discuss how living in the South Texas Borderlands after years of graduate school in the Northeast has unsettled my previously clear sense of ethnic self-identity and critically attuned me to its vagaries. In my final section, I discuss the implications of vagueness for the mission announced in SAAP’s name: the advancement of American philosophy.


Alexander Stehn    
UT-Rio Grande Valley
United States


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