José Ortega Y Gasset

(1883_1955 / Madrid)

Biography of José Ortega Y Gasset

José Ortega Y Gasset poet

José Ortega y Gasset (9 May 1883 – 18 October 1955) was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist working during the first half of the 20th century while Spain oscillated between monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship. He was, along with Friedrich Nietzsche, a proponent of the idea of perspectivism, which was pioneered in European thought by Immanuel Kant.

José Ortega y Gasset was born 9 May 1883 in Madrid. His father was director of the newspaper El Imparcial, which belonged to the family of his mother, Dolores Gasset. The family was definitively of Spain's end-of-the-century liberal and educated bourgeoisie. The liberal tradition and journalistic engagement of his family had a profound influence in Ortega y Gasset's activism in politics.

Ortega was first schooled by the Jesuit priests of San Estanislao in Miraflores del Palo, Málaga (1891–1897). He attended the University of Deusto, Bilbao (1897–98) and the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the Central University of Madrid, (now Complutense University of Madrid) (1898–1904), receiving a doctorate in Philosophy. From 1905 to 1907, he continued his studies in Germany at Leipzig, Nuremberg, Cologne, Berlin and, above all Marburg. At Marburg, he was influenced by the neo-Kantianism of Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp, among others.

On his return to Spain in 1908, he was appointed professor of Psychology, Logic and Ethics at the Escuela Superior del Magisterio de Madrid and in October 1910 he was named full professor of Metaphysics at Complutense University of Madrid, a vacant seat previously held by of Nicolás Salmerón.

In 1917 he became a contributor to the newspaper El Sol, where he published as a series of essays his two principal works: España invertebrada (Invertebrate Spain) and La rebelión de las masas (The Revolt of the Masses). The latter made him internationally famous.

He founded the Revista de Occidente in 1923, remaining its director until 1936. This publication promoted translation of (and commentary upon) the most important figures and tendencies in philosophy, including Oswald Spengler, Johan Huizinga, Edmund Husserl, Georg Simmel, Jakob von Uexküll, Heinz Heimsoeth, Franz Brentano, Hans Driesch, Ernst Müller, Alexander Pfänder, and Bertrand Russell.

Elected deputy for the province of León in the constituent assembly of the second Spanish Republic, he was the leader of a parliamentary group of intellectuals known as La Agrupación al servicio de la república ("At the service of the Republic"), but he soon abandoned politics, disappointed.

Leaving Spain at the outbreak of the Civil War, he spent years of exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina until moving back to Europe in 1942. He settled in Portugal by mid 1945 and slowly began to make short visits to Spain. In 1948 he returned to Madrid, where he founded the Institute of Humanities, at which he lectured.

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