1. Periodic Report Summary - OGPLIE (Ortega y Gasset's philosophy of life and his idea of Europe)
Record Control Number:
Quality Validation Date:
Abstract: In the 'OGPLIE' project I examined the work of José Ortega y Gasset in the four following stages:
1. Ortega´s philosophy as an integrative philosophy of life
2. Ortega´s attempt at a synthesis of Mediterranean and German thinking tradition; his affinities to Husserl, Heidegger, Dilthey and Simmel
3. Ortega´s concept of historical reason, and
4. Ortega´s notion of Europe.
As I studied Ortega's life and culture philosophy for many years, I focussed my research project on 'Ortega´s notion of Europe'. According to Ortega, European identity consisted of a system of convictions, beliefs and common values, which resulted in a system of specific European collective habits, a European public opinion, a European law and, last but not least, a European balance of power. According to Ortega, among all these perspectives, the beliefs and the common habits were the most important things.
Ortega distinguished between beliefs and ideas, stating that whereas we were conscious of our ideas, we lived in our beliefs making unconsciously use of them. In this sense, Europe was a belief in which we lived, the reality in which we existed and projected our lives. As I pointed out in my project, there were three fundamental beliefs, which were characteristic for the European culture. One of the three pillars, or fundamental beliefs, i.e. 'creencias', upon which European identity was based, was, firstly, the belief in the universality of reason and, secondly, the belief in the inalienable dignity and uniqueness of each human individual.
Furthermore, the discovery of reason as an independent reality, as a system and method which rendered science, technology and, above all, philosophy possible, was to be seen, according to Ortega, as a genuinely Greek accomplishment. One of the definitive characteristics of the belief in reason consisted in the further belief that thought could apprehend reality by means of concepts and ideas. Nevertheless, this assumed that not only our thought but also the world as it is had a conceptual, rational structure. And this, in turn, was an assumption which expressed a condition for the possibility of objective knowledge and a form of science, which was independent of tradition and culture. The other definitive characteristic consisted in the belief that man was to be distinguished from other living things by the fact that he had privileged access to the rationality which inhabited the world, which was a cosmos ordered according to principles of reason. And, because of this special human privilege, man was able to communicate with others of his kind concerning what was 'true' and 'false'. Both these assumptions led, already in antiquity and particularly in the early Stoa, to the recognition of the uniqueness and dignity of every human person, and thus to a first form of humanism with a 'cosmopolitan bent'. Therefore, Ortega stated that Socrates' discovery of reason was the discovery of Europe.
The third pillar of European identity was the belief in the importance of the single person in his individuality. 'Europeans are', according to Ortega y Gasset, 'the kind of human beings who have invested all the labour and devotion of their history into the creation of personality'. For Ortega, the recognition of the single person and the creation of his personality was an accomplishment of the European humanism, which was the most important unifying power in Europe. From the belief in the importance of the single person in his individuality arose the task of the university, which Ortega developed in his famous writing 'La mission de la Universidad'.
Subject Descriptors: Anthropology; Information analysis
Subject Index Codes: Information and communication technology applications ; Life Sciences