Alejandro A. Vallega was trained as a painter at the Massachusetts School of Arts and Design’s B.F.A. program before entering “the Great Books Program” at Saint John’s College (B.A., 1993). He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Vienna, Austria (1999). He is presently Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon in the United States, where he teaches and directs dissertations in the graduate program as well as offering major and general undergraduate courses. His areas of concentration are Continental Philosophy, Latin American Philosophy, Decolonial Studies, and Ancient Greek Thought.
Through his research and publications Professor Vallega develops an “aesthetic philosophy.” In it he argues for a return to the “aesthetic” sense of philosophical thought: instead of following the modern turn that separates mind and body, meaning and sentiment, immediate fact and past memory to situate meaning in the rational mind, Vallega holds that such seemingly separate dimensions of the human as mind-body are intrinsically interrelated and that all meaning making happens out of aesthetic sensibilities such as affectivity, embodiment, and memorial experiences operative before and with linguistic and conceptual expression, articulation, and logical analysis. This does not mean that philosophy must turn to irrationality but that articulation and thought happen in embodying, felt, memorial gestural and linguistic figurations that find expression or form in meanings, concepts, grammars, logics, ideas, images, projections, and hopes.
The significance of this return to the aesthetic dimensions of being and thinking is that through it open paths for rethinking not only the character of philosophical thought but the conceptual structures and categories by which selves, relations, forms of knowledge, ways of living, and worlds are identified and find determination as meaningful. This transformative originary thinking also leads Vallega to develop a hermeneutical and phenomenological aesthetic decolonial thought, such as is found in his notable work on Latin American philosophy as well as in his decolonial thought.
Vallega defines himself as a Border thinker who works between traditions, in particularly the Continental tradition and Latin American thought. In developing aesthetic philosophy professor Vallega works with phenomenology, deconstruction, hermeneutics, Latin American indigenous and popular thought, literature, poetry, and Ancient Greek thought. His research does not hold to a specific tradition or lineages, but he finds that it happens between distinct traditions and ways of being and making meanings. Given his training as a visual artist Vallega’s thinking also happens between philosophical discourse and painting, between word and silent graphic mark.
Among Professor Vallega’s publications appear: Tiempo y Liberación (Editorial AKAL, 2020); Latin American Philosophy from Identity to Radical Exteriority (Indiana University Press, 2014); Sense and Finitude: Encounters at the Limit of Language, Art, and the Political (SUNY press, 2009-2010); and, Heidegger and the Question of Space: Thinking on Exilic Grounds (Penn State Press, 1999). He is also the editor of the English edition of Enrique Dussel’s Ethics of Liberation (Duke U. Press, 2013), and coeditor (with Professor Ramón Grosfoguel) of Anti-Cartesian Meditations and Transmodernity (The Hague: AMRIT Publishers, June 2018). Besides his books, Vallega publishes and lectures nationally and internationally.
He is cofounder and editor of the World Philosophies Series, published by Indiana University Press. He is member of the editorial board of the prestigious Continental philosophy journal Research in Phenomenology. He is also board member of Epoché: A Journal in The History of Philosophy, and is part of the comité cientifico of the Revista de Estudios Globales y Arte Contemporáneo, Universidad de Barcelona. Twice he has co-directed the Collegium Phänomenologicum in Cittá di Castello, Italy, and is active member of the Board of Directors. He served as president of the North American Society for Philosophical Hermeneutics and is now member of the advisory board. For the last ten years he has been coordinator of the Asociación de Filosofía y Liberación (AFyL) U.S.A.. He is permanent faculty member of the Decolonizing Knowledge and Power School summer school in Barcelona, Spain; and, he is faculty of the Diplomatura en Filosofía de la Liberación, at the University of Jujuy, Argentina. He also teaches hermeneutical and phenomenological aesthetic decolonial thought in the PhD program in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, California. In a broader spectrum, Vallega is member of the advisory board for the Oregon Center for the Humanities. He is the co-founder of the Society for World Philosophies, a satellite group of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. He is an active member of he HORASIS Think Tank and international platform.