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Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind (The Civilization of the American Indian Series) Paperback – September 15, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0806122953 ISBN-10: 0806122951 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: The Civilization of the American Indian Series (Book 67)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; Reprint edition (September 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806122951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806122953
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Director of the Inter-American Indian Institute in Mexico City, Miguel Leon-Portilla is a significant young Mexican scholar. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees (summa cum laude) form Loyola University at Los Angeles and the Ph.D. from the National University of Mexico. La Filosof¡a N huatl, the Spanish version of this book, received high praise from both Mexican and American scholars..



Jack Emory Davis, associate professor of Romance languages at the University of Arizona, prepared the original translation. He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degree from Tulane University.

Customer Reviews

As a student of anthropology, I found this book very enlightening on the Aztec culture.
Aaron Horner
As for the book itself, In my opinion Miguel Leon-Portilla is the author to consult for anything regarding the Aztecs.
Andrew McGee
This book is basic in understanding the depth of philosophical and religious thought of the ancient Mexican.
carolina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By carolina on May 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
I first bought this book thirty years ago. I now use it as a text book for my Mexican American Culture and Society Class and for my Pre Hispanic life and Religion Class. This book is basic in understanding the depth of philosophical and religious thought of the ancient Mexican. Portilla is is primarily instruemental in all of his writings in intoducing the reader to the ancient civilizations of this hemisfaire....that was in exsisitance at the same time of the old world....and which we have been so ignorant of for too long.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Edward Butler on November 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Leon-Portilla successfully demonstrates that there was a class of professional intellectuals in Nahua society appropriately described as "philosophers" (the tlamatinime), and sketches in broad terms the parameters of their thought.

I felt, however, that this book is in effect only half of the book that should have been written, because of the way Leon-Portilla undervalues Nahua theology. His monotheizing reduction of the Nahua pantheon means that he removes the content of Nahua thought and leaves only the form, if that. It does not seem to occur to him that theological structures can provide the basis for philosophical reflection; instead, he assumes that philosophy and theology must be in opposition. This is clearly a projection of philosophy's situation in the Christian and Muslim world, but Leon-Portilla offers no evidence that a similar tension existed in Nahua society. This inability to question his own presuppositions is a serious defect in an otherwise bold, important book which does make a real contribution to the project of expanding the boundaries of philosophy beyond the European tradition. I'm rating it slightly higher than I otherwise might, because the effort to do this sort of thing is not made often enough.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read quite a few books on the Aztecs and this is one of my favorites. It provides great insight into the Aztecs thought, culture and language. I am also reading one of the authors other books, titled "Fifteen poets of the Aztec world" which I also recommend. These books are great for anyone who is interested in the Aztecs.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Luis Jauregui (jljauregui@aol.com) on October 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Just like India's Upanishadic teaching tradition unfolded the Knowledge of the true identity of the individual, the universe and God, the Náhuatl Tlamatinime (spiritual teachers) were the "phylosphers", as Sahagun called them, who, abiding in Spiritual wisdom, were able to guide their students to discover the nature of their True Self. Don Miguel Leoón-Portilla is the ideal commentator because, after introducing his readers to the Tlamatinime's recorded words, showing a deep personal insight of the Náhuatl language, he accurately and methodically expounds, word by word and verse by verse, in the content of their spiritual wisdom. My opinion is that he could be considered the Adi Shankaracharya (the Commentary Master of the Tradional Vedanta texts of India) of the Americas.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MysticJaguar VINE VOICE on September 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is largely a commentary on early Spanish writers in 'New Spain' and mainly for Sahagun. The book starts out by talking about the Aztec/Nahau philosophers the 'tlamatinime'. In fact it keeps repeating verse/poetry from the first section of the book throughout when referring to these wise men. It got to the point reading this that Sahagun and others works were included so much that I felt I should be reading Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain (Book 6, Rhetoric and Moral Philosophy) first hand (if it wasn't so unreasonably expensive, an affordable reprint is due).

This book does make a cursory reference to the perennial philosophy in inferring the Nahau culture was part of it. A claim which is somewhat speculative but probably correct. When one visits Teotihuacan, a primary Nahau/Toltec site, there is no doubt the complex was not built by savages. Probably because we have a Mexican and not a Spanish writer the Nahau are conveyed as a deep people extremely civilized and not a rapacious savages as was sold to the world by the conquistidors.

Recent linguist research as presented in Aztec Calendar Handbook makes a strong case that Nahautl originated in the Four Corners region of the US Southwest. Specifically there are linked to Chaco Canyon and it's complex of temples. It is a tenable hypothesis that the tlamatinime and Nahautl culture originated here and migrated down to Teotihuacan and their cultural/linguistic descendants finally to Tenochtitlan prior to the invasion of Cortez.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Horacio Alger on September 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
These Aztec poems and narratives reveal deep questions about the nature of humans and the universe itself.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G.Jones on August 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
...of aztec history. this book is very complex and very intriguing at the same time. portilla offers an extensive background and the significance of the creation myth of the aztecs and their history through the use of histories that were taken from the priest who interviewed key priest/teachers in the aztec culture. portilla takes the information that is known through the written and oral history of what is left of this amazing civilization and puts it into a book for people who know enough to understand the basics and the deeper aspects of the nahuac philosophy. this book is very complex, however, is very enlightening if you take the time to understand what is being said.
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