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José Ortega y Gasset

José Ortega y Gasset José Ortega y Gasset[1†]

José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) was a Spanish philosopher and essayist whose "philosophy of life" influenced Spain's 20th-century cultural renaissance[1†][2†]. He addressed Spain's issues in works like "España invertebrada" and "La rebelión de las masas," founding periodicals such as "España," "El Sol," and "Revista de Occidente." His philosophy blended pragmatist metaphysics with realist phenomenology, contributing to proto-existentialism and realist historicism[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

José Ortega y Gasset was born on May 9, 1883, in Madrid, Spain[2†][1†]. His father was the director of the newspaper El Imparcial, which belonged to the family of his mother, Dolores Gasset[2†][1†]. The liberal tradition and journalistic engagement of his family had a profound influence on Ortega y Gasset’s activism in politics[2†][1†].

Ortega y Gasset’s early education was provided by the Jesuit priests of St. Stanislaus Kostka College in Málaga from 1891 to 1897[2†][1†]. He then attended the University of Deusto in Bilbao in 1897-98[2†][1†]. Following this, he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the Central University of Madrid (now Complutense University of Madrid), where he received his doctorate in Philosophy in 1904[2†][1†].

From 1905 to 1907, Ortega y Gasset continued his studies in Germany at Leipzig, Nuremberg, Cologne, Berlin, and, most importantly, Marburg[2†][1†]. At Marburg, he was influenced by the neo-Kantianism of Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp, among others[2†][1†].

This period of rigorous academic training and exposure to diverse philosophical schools of thought played a crucial role in shaping Ortega y Gasset’s intellectual development and philosophical outlook[2†][1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Upon his return to Spain in 1908, Ortega y Gasset was appointed professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Ethics at the Escuela Superior del Magisterio de Madrid[1†]. In 1910, he married Rosa Spottorno Topete, a Spanish translator and feminist, and was named full professor of Metaphysics at Complutense University of Madrid, a vacant seat previously held by Nicolás Salmerón[1†].

Ortega y Gasset’s career was marked by his active involvement in politics and his significant contributions to philosophy and culture. He played a role in the overthrow of Alfonso XIII in 1931, served as a deputy for Leon, and became civil governor of Madrid[1†][4†].

He gained a reputation through his numerous philosophical and cultural essays, not only in literary journals but also in newspapers, which were a peculiar and important medium of education and culture in pre-Civil War Spain[1†][5†]. He was closely linked to the world of journalistic publishing, thus continuing the tradition started by his grandfather Eduardo Gasset, who had founded El Imparcial[1†][6†].

Ortega y Gasset founded the periodicals España in 1915, El Sol in 1917, and Revista de Occidente in 1923[1†][2†]. His two principal works, España invertebrada and La rebelión de las masas, were published as a series of essays in El Sol[1†]. The latter made him internationally famous[1†].

His philosophy has been characterized as a “philosophy of life” that "comprised a long-hidden beginning in a pragmatist metaphysics inspired by William James, and with a general method from a realist phenomenology imitating Edmund Husserl, which served both his proto-existentialism (prior to Martin Heidegger’s) and his realist historicism, which has been compared to both Wilhelm Dilthey and Benedetto Croce"[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

José Ortega y Gasset was a prolific writer, and his works have had a significant impact on philosophy, culture, and literature. Here are some of his main works, along with information about their first publication:

These works have been translated into English and other languages, making Ortega y Gasset’s ideas accessible to a global audience[1†][2†][8†][7†].

Analysis and Evaluation

José Ortega y Gasset was a philosopher who cannot be strictly categorized into any one school of philosophy[9†]. He covered a wide variety of topics in his writings, reflecting his multifaceted identity as a philosopher, educator, essayist, theorist, critic, editor, and politician[9†]. His work spanned philosophy, history, literary criticism, sociology, travel writing, the philosophy of life, history, phenomenology, society, politics, the press, and the novel, among other topics[9†].

Ortega y Gasset’s philosophy is often characterized as a “philosophy of life” that comprised a long-hidden beginning in a pragmatist metaphysics inspired by William James, and with a general method from a realist phenomenology imitating Edmund Husserl[9†]. This served both his proto-existentialism (prior to Martin Heidegger’s) and his realist historicism[9†]. He saw individual life as the fundamental reality and substituted reason as a function of life for absolute reason, and for absolute truth, he substituted the perspective of each individual[9†][2†].

His works, such as “España invertebrada” and “La rebelión de las masas”, have been critically acclaimed for their insightful characterization of 20th-century society as dominated by masses of mediocre and indistinguishable individuals[9†][2†]. He proposed that social leadership should be surrendered to minorities of cultivated and intellectually independent men[9†][2†].

Ortega y Gasset’s philosophy has had a significant impact on Latin American philosophy, especially in introducing existentialism and perspectivism[9†]. His writings have not only influenced the field of philosophy but also greatly contributed to the cultural and literary renaissance of Spain in the 20th century[9†][2†].

Despite his significant contributions, Ortega y Gasset’s philosophy has also been critiqued. Some critics argue that his focus on the individual and his perspective limits the scope of his philosophy, as it does not adequately address social and communal aspects of life[9†].

In conclusion, José Ortega y Gasset’s philosophy offers a unique perspective on life, society, and the role of the individual. His works continue to be studied and analyzed for their profound insights and contributions to philosophy[9†][2†].

Personal Life

José Ortega y Gasset was born on May 9, 1883, in Madrid, Spain[1†][2†]. He was born into a cultured and well-off family[1†][2†][3†][10†]. His mother was Dolores Gasset, daughter of Eduardo Gasset, founder of the newspaper Imparcial, where later his own father, José Ortega Munilla, served as director[1†][10†]. A good part of his childhood was spent in Malaga, Andalusia[1†][3†]. On the Costa del Sol, he attended primary and secondary school[1†][3†].

In 1910, he married Rosa Spottorno Topete, a Spanish translator and feminist[1†]. Between 1936 and 1945, he was a voluntary exile in Europe and Argentina, returning to Spain at the end of World War II[1†][2†]. In 1948, he founded the Institute of Humanities in Madrid[1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

José Ortega y Gasset’s influence on the cultural and literary renaissance of Spain in the 20th century is undeniable[2†][1†]. His philosophy, characterized as a “philosophy of life,” has been compared to the works of prominent philosophers such as William James, Edmund Husserl, Wilhelm Dilthey, and Benedetto Croce[2†][1†]. His writings, particularly “La rebelión de las masas” (The Revolt of the Masses), have left a lasting impact, maturing into a complex Existentialism where reason is seen as a function of life[2†][11†].

Between 1910 and 1930, Ortega y Gasset played a crucial role in shaping a new bourgeois political consciousness in Spain[2†][12†]. As a result, intellectuals of the left and some of the right articulated their political ideas within a conceptual universe largely created by Ortega y Gasset[2†][12†]. His ideas and writings continue to be studied and revered, making him one of the most influential writers of his time[2†][11†].

Ortega y Gasset passed away on October 18, 1955, in Madrid, Spain[2†][1†]. However, his legacy continues to live on through his philosophical works and their impact on subsequent generations of thinkers[2†][1†][12†][11†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - José Ortega y Gasset [website] - link
  2. Britannica - José Ortega y Gasset: Spanish philosopher [website] - link
  3. ActualidadLiteratura - Ortega y Gasset, the most important thinker in the history of Spain [website] - link
  4. Oxford Reference - José Ortega y Gasset - link
  5. Prabook - José Ortega y Gasset (May 9, 1883 — January 18, 1955), Spanish educator, essayist, philosopher [archive] - link
  6. Universo Lorca - José Ortega y Gasset [website] - link
  7. Exploring your mind - José Ortega y Gasset - A Regenerationist [website] - link
  8. Cambridge University Press - An Introduction to the Politics and Philosophy of José Ortega y Gasset - Chapter: Ortega's major works in English translation [website] - link
  9. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and its Authors - Gasset, José Ortega y [website] - link
  10. Wonderful Mind - Biography of José Ortega y Gasset, a transcending generations [website] - link
  11. Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism - Ortega y Gasset, José (1883–1955) [website] - link
  12. Duke University Press - Hispanic American Historical Review - An Introduction to the Politics and Philosophy of José Ortega y GassetThe Imperative of Modernity: An Intellectual Biography of José Ortega y Gasset [website] - link
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