The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this broad essay, the educationist and philosopher José Vasconcelos reflects upon the concept of “progreso” [progress]. He asks himself what progress really is and thus provides various answers, in accordance with the times. For him, progress is splendid if it comes from the forces of good. But he criticizes the type of progress that imprisons instead of liberating man so that it ends by making a slave of him. Vasconcelos compares between a “sociedad progresiva” [“progressive society”] that is close to the creativity of Quetzalcóatl, and the same society that, in favor of progress, instead follows the destructive Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. One of the virtues that Vasconcelos sees in present times is an inexhaustible capacity for protest, a lack of conformity and rebelliousness. In his opinion, progress does not begin with Prometheus delivering fire, but instead when he denounces the tyrants who sacrifice lives in order to impose their command.
Philosophy had an important influence on several artists that were part of the muralist movement; above all in the first phase of the movement, when some of them allied themselves with the thinking of José Vasconcelos (1882-1959). When he speaks of progress and of the forces of good and evil, the reader may refer to the mural that Diego Rivera painted at the Secretaría de Educación Pública [SEP, Ministry of Public Education]. However, when he speaks of Prometheus it is necessary to consider the role that this mythological figure plays in José Clemente Orozco’s murals— such as the one for the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara. The same occurs in the use of pre-Hispanic figures of good and evil, such as Quetzalcóatl and Huitzilopochtli, respectively. When Vasconcelos refers to progress, it does not carry the same meaning as it did for the “científicos” [the Positivist scientists] during the Porfirio Díaz period.