James Maffie

Senior Lecturer

Jim Maffie is senior lecturer in the Department of American Studies and an affiliate of the Departments of Philosophy and History and Religious and Latin American Studies Programs. He is author of Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion (2014) and numerous articles examining various aspects of conquest-era Mexica (Aztec) philosophical thought. He argues that the conquest-era Mexica advanced a highly sophisticated and systematic philosophy worthy of consideration alongside other world philosophies. Maffie is currently writing a second book tentatively entitled Toltecayotl: An Aztec Understanding of the Well-Ordered Life that focuses on Mexica ethics and understanding of the good life. His work employs a broadly inter-disciplinary approach including philosophy, indigenous studies, linguistics, ethnography, religious studies, ritual studies, art history, archaeology, and history. 


  • Ph.D., Philosophy (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  • M.A., Philosophy (University of California, San Diego)
  • B.A., Philosophy (University of California, Los Angeles)

Research Areas

  • Conquest-era Aztec (Mexica) philosophy
  • Indigenous philosophies of the Americas
  • Indigenous environmental and political movements in the Americas
  • Latin American philosophy
  • Mexican-American (Chicano) philosophy
  • Comparative world philosophy
  • Africana philosophy
  • Postcolonial theory.

Select Publications


  • Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2014.


  • “Teaching Aztec (Mexica) Philosophy: Discussion and Syllabus,” American Philosophical Association Newsletter for Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy (forthcoming).
  • In Huehue Tlamanitiliztli and la Verdad: Nahua and European Philosophies in Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s Colloquios y doctrina cristiana,” Inter-America Journal of Philosophy 3 (2012): 1-33.
  • “Pre-Columbian Philosophies,” A Companion to Latin American Philosophy, Susanna Nuccetelli, Ofelia Schutte, and Octávio Bueno (eds). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010: 9-22.
  • “’In the End, We have the Gatling Gun, And they have not:’ Future Prospects for Indigenous Knowledges,” Futures: The Journal of Policy, Planning, and Futures Studies Special Issue: Futures of Indigenous Knowledges 41 (2009): 53-65.
  • “Consciousness and Reality in Nahua Thought in the Era of the Conquest,” in Helmut Wautischer (ed.), Ontology of Consciousness: Percipient Action. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008: 99-128.
  • “The Centrality of Nepantla in Conquest-era Nahua Philosophy,” The Nahua Newsletter 44 (2007): 11-31.
  • “Flourishing on Earth: Nahua Philosophy in the Era of the Conquest,” The Nahua Newsletter 40 (Special 20th Anniversary Issue) (2005): 18-23.
  • “The Epistemology of Aztec Time-Keeping,” American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy 3 (2004): 95-101.
  • “To Walk in Balance: An Encounter between Contemporary Western Science and Pre-Conquest Nahua Philosophy,” in Science and Other Cultures: Issues in Philosophies of Science and Technology, Robert Figueroa and Sandra Harding (eds.). New York: Routledge, 2003: 70-91.
  • “‘We Eat of the Earth, then the Earth Eats Us’: The Concept of Nature in Pre-Hispanic Nahua Thought,” Ludus Vitalis X 17 (2002): 5-20.
  • “Why Care about Nezahualcoyotl? Veritism and Nahua Philosophy,” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (2002): 73-93.
  • “Alternative Epistemologies and the Value of Truth,” Social Epistemology 14 (2001): 247-257.
James Maffie
Faculty Information
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