Bunge, Carlos Octavio (1875–1918)

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Bunge, Carlos Octavio (1875–1918)

Carlos Octavio Bunge, Argentine author, educator, and positivist social critic, was born January 19, 1875, in Buenos Aires. Bunge studied law at the University of Buenos Aires and later joined the faculty there. He was the author of numerous works; among the most important are El espíritu de la educación (1901), Nuestra América (1903), and a biography of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. While critical of tyrants, such as Juan Manuel de Rosas (ruled 1829–1852), he appreciated such modernizing authoritarian states as the Porfiriato (1876–1910) in México, which promoted order and progress. In his work he criticized the Spanish, American, and African elements of Latin American culture and society. For him, the mixture of indigenous peoples, Africans and Spaniards, which he referred to as hibridación degenerativa (degenerative hybridization), was the main "problem" of Latin American societies. He used this intellectual framework to explain how the process of modernization, accelerated because of the arrival of thousands of European immigrants, would affect Latin American societies. Influenced by biological social theories, but also by the nascent study of crowd psychology, he legitimated the role of the socioeconomic elite as the only group that could enhance the process of modernization. Reflecting on his own country in Nuestra América, he asserted that European immigration would facilitate Argentina's efforts to become one of the world's leading nations. In these respects, he was typical of many Latin American intellectuals of his generation who echoed the Eurocentric ideals of Social Darwinism and positivism. Bunge died May 22, 1918.

See alsoArgentina: The Twentieth Century; Porfiriato; Positivism; Rosas, Juan Manuel de; Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino.


Bunge, Carlos O. El espíritu de la educación. Buenos Aires: Taller Tip. de la Penitenciaria Nacional, 1901.

Bunge, Carlos O. Nuestra América: Ensayo de psicología social, 6th ed. Buenos Aires: Vaccaro, 1918.

Bunge, Carlos O. Sarmiento: estudio biográfico y crítico. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1926.

Romero, José Luis. El desarrollo de las ideas en la sociedad argentina del siglo XX. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1965.

Terán, Oscar. Vida intelectual en el Buenos Aires fin-de-siglo (1880–1910): Derivas de la "cultura científica." Mexico City and Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2000.

                                               Daniel Lewis

                                           Vicente Palermo