Ortega y Gasset, José

Ortega y Gasset, José
Ortega y Gas·set (ēgä-sĕtʹ), José. 1883-1955.
Spanish philosopher. His most famous work, The Revolt of the Masses (1929), argues that humans are essentially unequal and that an intellectual elite is necessary.

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born May 9, 1883, Madrid, Spain
died Oct. 18, 1955, Madrid

Spanish philosopher.

He taught at the University of Madrid from 1911 and lived abroad from 1931 to 1946. Though influenced by Neo-Kantianism, he diverged from it in works such as Adam in Paradise (1910), Quixote's Meditations (1914), and Modern Theme (1923). He saw individual life as the fundamental reality; for absolute reason he substituted reason as a function of life; for absolute truth he substituted the perspective of each individual. Sharing his generation's preoccupation with Spain's problems, he founded the periodicals España (1915), El sol (1917), and Revista de Occidente (1923). Of his other works, the best known are Invertebrate Spain (1922) and The Revolt of the Masses (1929), which foreshadowed the Spanish Civil War. He greatly influenced Spain's 20th-century cultural and literary renaissance.

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▪ Spanish philosopher

born May 9, 1883, Madrid, Spain
died Oct. 18, 1955, Madrid
 philosopher and humanist who greatly influenced the cultural and literary renaissance of Spain in the 20th century.

      Ortega y Gasset studied at Madrid University (1898–1904) and in Germany (1904–08) and was influenced by the neo-Kantian philosophical school at Marburg. As professor of metaphysics at Madrid (1910), however, he diverged from neo-Kantianism in such works as Adán en el paraíso (1910; “Adam in Paradise”), Meditaciones del Quijote (1914; “Quixote's Meditations”), and El tema de nuestro tiempo (1923; Modern Theme). He saw individual life as the fundamental reality: reason as a function of life is substituted for absolute reason, and for absolute truth he substituted the perspective of each individual (“I am I, and my circumstance”). He shared the preoccupation of his generation with Spain's problems. He founded the periodicals España (1915), El Sol (1917; “The Sun”), and Revista de Occidente (1923; “Review of the West”).

      Between 1936 and 1945 he was a voluntary exile in Europe and Argentina, returning to Spain at the end of World War II. In 1948 he founded the Institute of Humanities in Madrid. Of his other works, the best known are España invertebrada (1922; Invertebrate Spain) and La rebelión de las masas (1929; The Revolt of the Masses), in which he characterized 20th-century society as dominated by masses of mediocre and indistinguishable individuals, who he proposed should surrender social leadership to minorities of cultivated and intellectually independent men.

Additional Reading
Franz Niedermayer, José Ortega y Gasset (1973), chronicles the philosopher's life. Antón Donoso and Harold C. Raley, José Ortega y Gasset (1986), contains 4,000 items of Ortega scholarship.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Ortega y Gasset, José — (1883–1955) Spanish philosopher and essayist. Ortega y Gasset was born in Madrid, and educated by Jesuits, before studying in Germany. He taught metaphysics in Madrid from 1910 until 1936, when his republican activities compelled him to leave for …   Philosophy dictionary

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