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Monstrosity as a Pedagogical Tool: Socrates, Montaigne, & Sor Juana"

Sergio Gallegos headshot
Sergio Armando Gallegos Ordorica
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Peabody Hall, Room 115

Sergio Armando Gallegos Ordorica is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). He received his Ph. D from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2011. His main on-going research project focuses on exploring the various connections existing between Latin American philosophy and American philosophy (particularly, pragmatism), with the goal of putting both traditions in conversation so that they can enrich each other. He is the author of various articles at the intersection of Latin American philosophy and US pragmatism. In particular, he has published “Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz on Self-Control” (2020) in Philosophy Compass and “I-representations as mental currency: reading Huw Price through Andrés Bello” in Transactions of the Charles S Peirce Society. Other recent publications include two book chapters respectively titled “Decolonizing Mariátegui as a prelude to Decolonizing Latin American Philosophy'' (2021) and “Mestizaje as an epistemology of ignorance” (2021) in edited collections published by SUNY Press. He was recently awarded a Humanities Unbounded Faculty Visiting Fellowship at Duke University for the academic year 2021-2022 in order to write a book on the 17th Novohispanic philosopher and poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

Abstract for "Monstrosity as a Pedagogical Tool: Socrates, Montaigne, & Sor Juana":

Building upon an insight recently defended by Madeline Martin-Seaver (2018) who has argued that Socrates is happy in Thaetetus to be described as a monster when Theodorus compares him to Antaeus, I have three objectives in this paper. The first one consists in arguing that the characterization of Socrates as a monster is not limited to the Thaetetus, but that it emerges in other works from Plato (in particular, in Phaedrus where Socrates considers the possibility that he is like Typhon and in the Symposium where he is compared by Alcibiades to a siren and to Silenus). The second goal is to argue that this characterization of Socrates as a monster has a pedagogical role given that monsters were often considered in Antiquity as divine signs or portents the purpose of which was to show or teach something to human beings, which is something that Socrates constantly does through his words and actions. Finally, the third goal is to show that the characterization of the figure of the philosopher as a monster is not restricted to Socrates, but that this characterization also emerges in the writings of two Early modern figures that hve strong affinities and parallels with Socrates: Michel de Montaigne (who self-describes as a monster in his Essays) and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (who was labeled by her contemporaries as the ‘Phoenix of Mexico’) and that both these characterizations of Montaigne and Sor Juana as monsters serve a certain pedagogical role

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