Aztec philosophy

Aztec philosophy

Aztec philosophy was the school of philosophy developed by the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs had a well developed school of philosophy, perhaps the most developed in the Americas and in many ways comparable to Greek philosophy, even amassing more texts than the ancient GreeksMann, Charles C. "". New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. p, 121.] . Aztec philosophy focused on dualism, monism, and aesthetics, and Aztec philosophers attempted to answer the main Aztec philosophical question of how to gain stability and balance in an ephemeral world.


Aztec philosophy saw the concept of "teotl" as a fundamental unity that underlies the entire universe. Teotl forms, shapes, and is all things. Even things in opposition--light and dark, life and death--were seen as expressions of the same unity, teotl. The belief in a unity with dualistic expressions compares with similar dialectical monist ideas in both Western and Eastern philosophies.Maffie, James. "Aztec Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. [] ]

Relation to Aztec religion

Aztec priests had a panentheistic view of religion but the popular Aztec religion maintained polytheism. Priests saw the different gods as aspects of the singular and transcendent unity of teotl but the masses were allowed to practice polytheism without understanding the true, unified nature of the Aztec gods.

Moral beliefs and aesthetics

Aztec philosophers focused on morality as establishing balance. The world was seen as constantly shifting with the ever-changing teotl. Morality focused on finding the path to living a balanced life, which would provide stability in the shifting world.

Aztec philosophy saw the arts as a way to express the true nature of teotl. Art was considered to be good if it in some way brought about a better understanding of teotl. Aztec poetry was closely tied to philosophy and often used to express philosophic concepts.Mann, 122-123]

External links

* [ The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Aztec philosophy] -- by James Maffie


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