Man and His Circumstances: Ortega as Educator
by Robbie McClintock
Chapter I — Aspirations
Meditaciones del Quijote, 1914, Obras I, p. 322
I am I and my circumstances, and if I do not save my circumstances, I cannot save myself. Benefac loco illi quo natus es, we read in the Bible. And in the Platonic school we are given this as the task of all culture: "save the appearances," the phenomena; that is to say, search for the sense of that which surrounds us.
"El intellectual y el otro," 1940, Obras V, p. 510. Cf. Prólogo para alemanes, 1933, 1958, Obras VIII, p. 32, 34-5.
The chronology of life is very rigorous.... With the most substantial, most human themes, it is during the twenty-sixth year that the life-span is lighted by its first extasis in which the great eagles that are our future ideas sink their talons in our brains and carry us towards the heights, as if we were innocent lambs. Great ideas are not ours; instead, we are their prey. They will not let us alone for the rest of our lives: ferociously, tenaciously, ceaselessly, they tear at the viscera of Prometheus.... There is nothing mysterious about this date in life. It is the year, generally, when we cease to be mainly receptive, and hoisting our bag of learning onto our back, we turn our clear eyes upon the universe.
I — Aspirations
Bilbao, March 12, 1910. Members and friends of the Society "El Sitio" were seated in their accustomed corner, awaiting their speaker with curiosity. They were confident that of all audiences in Spain, they most appreciated cultural attainments. Tonight they would prove their prowess; tonight they would take a chance and identify youthful talent, rather than savor mature repute. Usually they invited only the better speakers, men of established reputation. But almost twelve years had passed since national disaster had awakened the power of self-criticism in Spain. During those years many established reputations had fallen before the acerbity of critics who realized that, indeed, the given Spain was not the best of all possible ones. The time had come to hear what the young activists had to say for themselves.
Humiliating defeat by the yanquis in 1898 had destroyed Spain's pretension to inclusion among world powers. Suddenly doubts had been loosed. And the effects of these doubts on the nation were proving complicated. Members of "El Sitio" were well acquainted with "the generation of '98," as it was beginning to be called, for it comprised well-known critics who throughout the 1890's had been condemning the complacency of Spain's political and cultural leaders. The complete, rapid, seemingly effortless victory of the Americans had given the views of these critics an instantaneous authority; thereafter, they had to be reckoned with as seers. But by 1910 yet other groups were coming to the fore.
Spanish social history is intriguingly complicated. Three good general histories are Raymond Carr's Spain: 1808-1939, Salvador de Madariaga's Spain: A Modern History, and Rhea Marsh Smith's Spain: A Modern History. Gerald Brenan does an excellent job unraveling the different popular movements in early twentieth-century Spain in The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War. Juan Díaz del Moral's Historia de las agitaciones campesinas andaluzas is a marvelous book, rich in detail but circumscribed in scope; it is essential for giving a sense of the grass-root reality of the movements. James Joll's The Anarchists, an intrinsically less valuable work, nevertheless is useful in locating one of Spain's popular movements in its European context. The ferment was not only socio-political, but cultural as well, and this side of Spanish life was depicted excellently by J. B. Trend for the years immediately following World War I in his Picture of Modern Spain. A sense of how the cultural and the political interpenetrated is communicated well in certain memoirs, such as those of Julio Álvarez del Vayo in The Last Optimist. My sense of this period has been greatly enriched by going through long runs of El Imparcial, Faro, Europa, and España.
The intellectual history of the time is very important. For the condition of Spanish thought in the first decade of the twentieth century see Julián Marías, Ortega—I: Circunstancia y vocación, pp. 33-72, 113-173. Perhaps the fullest and best study of the effect of 1898 on Spanish cultural life is España como problema by Pedro Laín Entralgo. Another shorter, excellent work, which did much to give a scholarly definition to the "generation of 98," is by Hans Jeschke, Die Generation von 1898 in Spanien, in Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, 1934.
Spain fermented with irreverent discontent. If 1898 had provoked many Spaniards to question the established authorities, 1909 had goaded the doubters to combine into powerful forces for reform and revolution. The immediate cause of the turmoil was the inability of the government to win its costly, frustrating military campaign against Muslim guerrillas in Spanish North Africa. It was a classic case of imperialist paralysis. Enthusiasm for the war came from the established classes—the great landowners, the Church, the Army. Those who derived a mystical allegiance to Cross and Crown from the Reconquista could not conceive of forgoing battle with the Infidel. Yet the soldiers sent to wage the battle were from a different class; their allegiance was secular and republican. Military mobilizations called up the poor, and the cost of war most burdened those who lived on modest salaries and meager wages. Little wonder the Moroccan campaign induced serious domestic dissension.
Agitation against the government mounted to a peak in 1909. The sources of protest were diverse. Basques and Catalans had been asserting their autonomy; they had resurrected ancient rights, their unique linguistic heritages, and their memories of a once independent existence; they disliked sending their sons to fight a Castilian war. The traditional backbone of the Spanish opposition, the anti-monarchists and anti-clericals, saw the war as further evidence that neither Altar nor Throne could emerge from the Middle Ages. And in addition to these familiar forces of opposition, new, more ominous, more disturbing ones appeared. Socialism, syndicalism, and anarchism were spreading among workers and even among the rural peasants. Subversive doctrines threatened, or so the secure feared, to sanction the bloody expression of pent-up hate that the multitudes in poverty had for the few who were very rich. As illiterate workers had acquired a taste for European ideologies, they had founded study groups, learned to read, published papers, organized unions, forged political alliances, and even won a seat in the Cortes for Pablo Iglesias, founder of the Spanish Socialist Party. In July 1909 the workers of Barcelona staged a general strike, which became ineffective through gratuitous violence, the "tragic week." Like-to-like, the government panicked; decrying the threat of revolution, it unleashed a heavy-handed repression, which greatly widened the breach between those who accepted and those who rejected the established authorities.
In the midst of these events, a new group of critics became publicly visible, much to the malaise of those who were comfortable with commonplace certitudes. These young intellectuals, malcontents still in their twenties, were aggressively stirring the Spanish ferment. They aped the French avant-garde; they made propaganda for radical causes, passionately defended the rights of accused assassins, taught the workers to read and eagerly filled them with thoughts of equality and revolution. These irreverent critics were articulate, well educated, and deeply disillusioned with the recent Spanish past. More often than not they were children of prominent persons in the discredited establishment. In the midst of their education, 1898 had suddenly shocked them into a precocious critical awareness. They grew up feeling that they were the rightful heirs of an unrighteous patrimony. They would redeem their fathers' follies. They would use their talents and position not merely to criticize Spain. They would remake the nation. Or so they seemed to say. They would remake the nation, not by taking over the established positions of power, but by by-passing them, by building up a new system of power in cooperation with those who were excluded from participation in the old. To their elders, these activists seemed dangerously open to controversial ideas and overly eager to confront the difficult problems that the mature were prudently avoiding. They sought the future. They were the future. Yet despite their professed activism, the protesters were adamantly unwilling to work within a political framework that they considered discredited; and many of their elders were quite confused when the young malcontents spoke hopefully of a "new politics."
The best characterization of "El Sitio" that I have been able to find is Ortega's own, which he gave in his introductory remarks to "La pedagogía social como programa político," 1910, Obras I, pp. 503-4. Meetings of "El Sitio" were usually covered by El Imparcial and other serious Madrid newspapers. Ortega wrote two articles on addresses by Unamuno to "El Sitio," "Glosas a un discurso" and "Nuevas glosas," El Imparcial, September 11 and 26, 1908, Obras X, pp. 82-5, 56-90. Ten months after Ortega spoke there, "El Sitio" listened to Alejandro Lerroux, who was at that time becoming notorious as an anti-clerical demagogue. See "Lerroux en Bilbao: Conferencia en El Sitio," El Imparcial, January 9, 1911. For Lerroux's ideas see Raymond Carr, Spain: 1808-1939, pp. 534-5. Ortega addressed "El Sitio" a second time on October 11, 1914, "En defensa de Unamuno," bitterly protesting the dismissal of Unamuno as rector of the University of Salamanca. See Obras X, pp. 262-8.
Traditionally, "El Sitio" gave an enlightened hearing to unorthodox thinkers. It was natural therefore to provide a forum for these intellectuals, especially so since most members were well disposed towards the humanitarian causes and the democratic, socialist, European outlook vehemently espoused by the malcontents. Many in "El Sitio" would even agree when the dissenters demanded that entrenched interests stand aside or be pushed aside to let new men promote the thorough, rapid social change that had been revolutionizing life in the more exciting parts of Europe. But despite such commonality of commitment, "El Sitio" was proceeding on hope and faith in inviting Don José Ortega y Gasset to address them. He was only twenty-six.
See J. Alvarez del Vayo, The Last Optimist, pp. 35-6, for a first-hand account of Ortega speaking against Ferrer's trial and execution. See "Sencillas reflexiones," El Imparcial, September 6, 1910. Obras X, p. 169, for Ortega's view, at the time, of the significance of these events.
"La reforma liberal," Faro, February 23, 1908, Obras X, pp. 31-8.
Despite his age, a small reputation had preceded Ortega to Bilbao. The young professor was known to speak with wit and learning about Spain's need to remaster European culture. More importantly, he was showing a talent for holding the reins of journalism, politics, and philosophy at once. He was already working to organize a coalition of intellectuals, workers, and the young, for this coalition was the one most likely to become the backbone of a reformed Spain. In his view, the intellectuals' duty was to help workers master the cultural skills with which they could turn their movements into effective forces of national leadership. Towards this end, he had given lectures at the Casa del Partido of the Madrid socialists, and he took active part in agitations among proletarians, such as the recent protests against the trial and execution of the purported terrorist, Francisco Ferrer. Ortega had written eloquently opposing governmental efforts to repress popular movements, even the separatist movements in the Catalan provinces, for he believed repression would simply strengthen both terrorist sentiment and reaction among the established. Moreover, in addition to speaking out on the issues of the day, Ortega had indicated a larger vision. For instance, in Faro, a political magazine for intellectuals, he had contended that the nineteenth-century tradition of Spanish liberalism should properly give way to a twentieth-century vision of Spanish socialism.
For a first-hand account of Ortega's family, see the book by his brother, Manuel Ortega y Gasset, Niñez y mocedad de Ortega y Gasset. A shorter account is in Marías, Ortega, pp. 113-122. See Manuel Ortega y Gasset, "El Imparcial": Biografía de un gran periódico español, for an account of El Imparcial and its place in Spanish intellectual life.
Unlike a number of young men with similar views, Ortega was clearly marked, from the beginning, as someone to be taken seriously by those in power. Ortega was not caught in the underground. Much of his controversial writing was appearing in El Imparcial, a powerful, eminently middle-of-the-road paper, which happened to belong to his family. His maternal grandfather had founded El Imparcial and made it one of the better Madrid newspapers. A quasi-official organ of the Liberal party, the paper had become a leading journal of the Restoration—the Spanish equivalent of late Victorian complacency. But despite its conservative tone, El Imparcial had opened its columns in the 1890's to some of the better critics of Spain's recent past. This policy had been the work of Ortega's father, José Ortega Munilla, who had achieved note as the able editor of Los Lunes del Imparcial, the paper's prestigious literary supplement. In this way Los Lunes had become a major outlet for the writers who gained great authority from the defeat of 1898; thus Ortega Munilla had made their prose, their ideas, and their personalities a part of the family influences under which his son, José, grew up.
4"El Señor Dato responsable de un atropello a la constitución" El Sol, June 17, 1920, Obras X, p. 654.
5"Reforma del carácter, no reforma de costumbres," El Imparcial, October 5, 1907, Obras X, p. 21.
Ortega quipped: "I was born on a rotary press." He did not mean merely that he grew up accustomed to the smell of printer's ink and the late hours kept in getting out the city edition. He grew up at home with important writers and publishers and in a family through which the best of Spanish journalism became second nature to him. In the long run this background was important because it armed Ortega with a profound, instinctive understanding of public opinion and how to affect it. For instance, Unamuno wrote more frequently for popular papers and magazines than did Ortega, yet Ortega is remembered as the better philosophical journalist, for his contributions had a special compactness and continuity of thought that gave them a cumulative effect. But in the short run, Ortega's connections to El Imparcial were important because they insured his immediate access to an audience, and he quickly indicated that he would use it to propound views his readers were not accustomed to hearing. For instance, in Ortega's first contribution to the political columns of El Imparcial, he began to develop one of the fundamental themes of his journalism:"I believe that contemporary liberalism must be socialism."
Manuel Ortega, Niñez y mocedad de Ortega, gives a good account of Ortega's intellectual development prior to his trip to Germany; see especially p. 11. There is a detailed account of Ortega's education in Marías, Ortega, pp. 116-122, 165-170. Domingo Marrero, El Centauro: Persona y pensamiento de Ortega y Gasset, also has a good discussion of Ortega's education. For Ortega's relation to Unamuno as a student, the best source is Unamuno's "Almas de jóvenes," 1904, in his Obras I, pp. 1145-1159. For an excellent history that emphasizes the importance of the Institute, see Yvonne Turin, L'éducation et l'école en Espagne de 1874 a 1902: Libéralisme et tradition, especially pp. 204-267. A short but sound account of the Institute is in The Origins of Modem Spain by J. B. Trend, pp. 67–70. For the Institute and related developments, see also Mazzetti's Società e educazione nella Spagna contemporanea, which carries the account further into the twentieth century than does Turin, but without the depth and insight Turin gives. A good summary of the work of the Junta para Ampliación de Estudios is in Salvador de Madariaga, Spain: A Modern History, pp. 51–4.
Pérez de Ayala, A.M.D.G., in Obras completas de Ramón Pérez de Ayala, Vol. IV. Ortega wrote a favorable review of this notorious book, which has become quite scarce, and he said that it rang true to his own experience. See "Al margen del libro A.M.D.G.," 1910, Obras I, pp. 532–5.
See Unamuno, "Almas de jovenes," May, 1904, in Unamuno's Obras I, pp. 1148–1159.
In addition to his family background, Ortega's education was such that, from an early age, he had to be taken seriously by older men. Wise elders easily dismiss their young critics as ignorant, for it takes time to establish a reputation for substantial learning. But Ortega's education gave him a strong claim on intellectual respect. Like many sons of the upper middle class, he had been sent away to a Jesuit boarding school. Thus he had missed the enlightened instruction that he might have received at the famous Institución Libre de Enseñanza, the Free Educational Institute, which in 1876 had been founded by Francisco Giner de los Ríos and other dissident intellectuals. Instead, Ortega had received the thorough, painful drill in classical languages that his friend, Ramon Perez de Ayala, tellingly satirized in A.M. D. G.: Life in a Jesuit College From 1898 to 1902, Ortega had studied at the Universidad Central in Madrid, receiving his licenciado in philosophy and letters; he did well, impressing his masters as being competent and independent, but not extraordinary. Two years later, he received his doctorate at the age of twenty-one, which was not uncommon in his time; among his examiners was Unamuno, who soon thereafter wrote about Ortega in "Almas de jovenes," "Youthful Spirits." Ortega's education, however, did not stop.
Rather than begin his career after receiving his doctorate, Ortega decided to go to Germany for further studies. The decision was a turning point in his life. At the beginning of the century, Spanish intellectuals were not well versed in German thought. In fact, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, a humane but unexceptional follower of Hegel, was the only German thinker with whom most Spanish intellectuals were well acquainted.
For Krausismo see Juan López-Morillas, El Krausismo español: Perfil de una aventura intelectual; Pierre Jobit, Les éducateurs de l'Espagne contemporaine, Vol. 1, "Les Krausistes"; and J. B. Trend, The Origins of Modem Spain, pp. 37-49.
Krausismo is a curious phenomenon that had a complicated influence on Spanish thought. It had started in 1857 when Julián Sanz del Río finished several years of meditating in solitude on philosophical studies he had pursued in Germany. Coming out of seclusion, Sanz del Río began to teach Krause's system, which held that all existence was within God, that a moral law pervaded human life and provided for the organic unity of mankind, and that all would be well if each person conducted himself in rigorous fidelity to the dictates of the moral law within him. To be sure, in 1857 this introduction of German philosophy into Spain had been a progressive influence, one that engendered persecution from both Church and State. Yet with time, contexts change. Sanz del Río's dedicated, intimate teaching had been effective, and late nineteenth-century reformers in the schools and universities were deeply influenced by his version of Krause's humanitarian optimism. But twentieth-century reformers learned to look on the Krausist system with much skepticism. The vital elements of Krausismo were not the ideas peculiar to Krause, but the principles that he shared with other, more important thinker, with Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. Spanish intellectuals, in spite of themselves, preserved the habits of scholasticism; they adopted Krausismo as a self-contained system and absolved themselves of the chore of further philosophical studies. Hence, in retrospect, Krausismo seemed to have served as an intellectual buffer between Spanish thinkers and the main line of European speculation. By attracting those who were receptive to change to a closed system, Krausismo subtly impeded the development of philosophy in Spain.e
Instead of studying his system, Ortega did as Sanz del Río himself had done and travelled to the German universities. These travels freed Ortega from the sterile controversies of Spanish speculation and his post-doctoral work put him far ahead of his former teachers. Ortega spent almost two years studying German philosophy at Leipzig, Berlin, and Marburg. During 1907, his most productive year in Germany, he worked with Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp, the leaders of Marburg neo-Kantianism. There he began long acquaintances with Nicolai Hartmann, Ernst Cassirer, and other German contemporaries.
On his return, Ortega's competence was quickly recognized. His writing showed that unlike others, whether they were so-called Europeanizers or Hispanicizers, Ortega had a clear conception of European culture and of its importance to Spain. Consequently, his writing on the subject was surprisingly pointed and precise. His elders did not always understand him easily, for his texts included many not-so-familiar figures: references to Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Renan, and Nietzsche. But his dexterous use of learning impressed readers even when they did not wholly understand. This mark of erudition served to counter the charge of ignorance with which the well-established might have dismissed a young critic.
Finally, Ortega was to be listened to, even at twenty-six, not only because he had good connections and a good education, but because he was rapidly gaining position in his own right. His Wanderjahre through the German universities had already become a pattern being successfully promoted by the Junta para Ampliación de Estudios, a group initiated by Giner de los Ríos and directed by Ramón y Cajal to improve the universities of Spain. In 1909, Ortega had become professor of philosophy at the Escuela de Estudios Superiores del Magisterio, the leading normal school of Madrid. Here prospective teachers studied and here many youths who lacked the social advantages that gave access to the university still could get an excellent higher education.
In a letter to Unamuno, December 30, 1906, Ortega chided his former teacher for shunning a chair at Madrid; see Revista de Occidente, October 1964, p. 9. On Unamuno's professorial career see Yvonne Turin, Miguel de Unamuno, Universitaire. María de Maetzu, who was a student in Ortega's first course, described it and his petition for the Chair of Metaphysics in María de Maetzu, ed., Antología siglo XX: Prosistas españolas, pp. 79-82.
Ortega's position was a good one from which he could pursue his desire to improve Spanish education and to stimulate Spain's intellectual elite. Yet in academic circles he was expected to try for the vacant Chair of Metaphysics at the University of Madrid, which was perhaps the most prestigious position open to a philosopher in Spain. Spanish professors win their posts by competing before a panel of judges; and despite his youth, Ortega was given a good chance of outshining his elder competitors, for only Unamuno could match the philosophic background that Ortega gained in Germany, and Unamuno, then at home at Salamanca, had already declined the opportunity to compete for a Madrid post. In Ortega's year of teaching, he had proved effective. Erudition had not overwhelmed his knack for dramatic presentation, and he was known to be quick and telling in the give and take of oral examination. "El Sitio" was anxious to take their own measure of the man to see whether he lived up to his promise.
"Una conferencia en 'EL Sitio': La pedagogía social," El Imparcial, March 13, 1910.
For this description of Ortega I have relied on impressions gathered from a large picture album kept at the offices of the Revista de Occidente; pictures in Manuel Ortega y Gasset, Niñez y mocedad de Ortega, and in Guillermo Morón, Historia política de José Ortega y Gasset; descriptions of his presence as a speaker as in Madariaga, Spain, pp. 309-310; and conversations with persons who knew Ortega.
When the audience had gathered, it was clear that at least word of Ortega's personal appearance had preceded him to "El Sitio," for as a reporter observed in a pleasant Spanish idiom, "not a few" señoritas graced his audience. And when Ortega arrived, they were not disappointed. A Spaniard: he was short, but strong and agile. The sense of movement characteristic of his thought actively emanated from his physique: he would soon develop a taste for driving fast touring cars, and a photograph shows him in a graceful suerte de capa before a real, albeit small, bull. Even when young, Ortega disdained the flashy garb of Modernismo and dressed in the accepted fashion of the time. Effortlessly, he had a certain flair, a prepossessing air, which made it unnecessary to advertise himself with eccentricities. His face was sharply featured and expressive. The animation of his eyes impressed those with whom he conversed, and caricaturists enjoyed exaggerating the large forehead that rose above his brows. His strong, active hands were almost always in motion, and when he spoke, they complemented his words with an elegant commentary of gestures.g At twenty-six Ortega was a master of oratory.
The text of "La pedagogía social como programa político" is in Obras I, pp. 503-521. I have translated la pedagogía social as civic pedagogy.
Ortega took his invitation to speak to "El Sitio" seriously. The request came as the first sign that he was winning a well-placed following for his views; and he realized that his speech would receive wide attention, for the serious papers usually reported on "El Sitio's" proceedings. Since returning from Germany, Ortega had been pre-occupied with a mission, the Europeanization of Spain. In addition to giving him personal satisfaction, the invitation itself struck him as a sign of the need for Spanish regeneration, for a society of "El Sitio's" stature ought not to be inviting novices to address its meetings. This symptom of the need for Europeanization he would make an occasion for the pursuit of Europeanization; he would explain his theory of civic reform in the hope of enlisting his listeners in his cause. He took care in composing his address, "Civic Pedagogy as a Political Program"; much seemed to ride on it.
Ibid., pp. 503-4.
In preparation, Ortega might have considered beginning with a humorous introduction as counseled by classical rhetoric. But no. He was in no mood for levity. And besides, he had a better way to engage the attention of his audience. To do so, he would bluntly point out the significance of his presence at "El Sitio" a mere youth lecturing his elders. The thought of it angered him; his speech, by its mere existence, would demonstrate the depressed condition of Spain. How galling that the Society had to invite someone so young, someone "who was nothing because he had done nothing," someone who was significant merely for his promise! Dwelling on this situation, he would irritate his audience—and rightly so—for the situation should irritate Spaniards. If things went well, he would transform this irritation into a motive force for efforts to change Spanish life. Sorrow and shame, he thought, were the great sources of constructive effort; he would make his speech follow the moral itinerary that Beethoven had identified with one of his symphonies, "to joy by way of sorrow."0
Yes, such a dark, aggressive beginning would be appropriate. He wanted to draw his listeners into recognizing the great void in their common lives, the great absence of a future, the terrible inability to conceive of what Nietzsche called a Kinderland, the land of one's children, a Spain that might be achieved if men's hopes came to pass. That oppressive cloud, a present without a future: men had to become angry at this miasma; then they might make a morrow. What words would impart this mood? Did they ring true to him?
There are two types of patriotism. One sees the country as the heritage of the past and as a set of pleasing things that we presently are offered by the land in which we were born. The rather legendary glories of our forefathers, the beauty of the sky, the garb of the women, the dash of the men around us, the transparent density of the jerez wines, the luxuriant flowering of the Levantine gardens, the capacity for producing miracles that persists in the pedestal of the Aragonese Virgin, and so on—these compose a mass of realities, more or less presumed, that are for many their country. Because they begin with the supposition that all these things are real, that these are here, they need only to open their eyes to see their country; as a result of this notion of the nation, there remains nothing for the patriot to do but to settle down comfortably and to occupy himself with tasting the delectable array. This is the inactive, spectacular, ecstatic patriotism in which the spirit dedicates itself to the fruition of an existing, prosperous destiny that has been fortuitously pushed before it.
There is, however, another notion of the nation. It is not the land of our fathers, Nietzsche said, but the land of our children. The country is not the past and the present, nor is it anything that a providential hand extends to us so that we may have possession of it; the country is, on the contrary, something that yet does not exist, that, even more, cannot exist unless we struggle energetically to fulfill it by ourselves. The country is, in this sense, precisely the conjunction of virtues that were and are lacking in our historic home. The nation is what we have not been and what we must be under penalty of feeling ourselves erased from the map.
However perfect may be the life of a people, it is not too great to be improved. Our children expect from us this improvement of the country so that their existence will be less sorrowful and richer in possibilities than our own. The improved country, the perfected nation, is the land of our children. Therefore, it is the real nation for those who are fathers—either by flesh or by spirit and obligation.
By so understanding the country, patriotism becomes for us an incessant activity, a firm and arduous desire to fulfill the idea of improvement suggested to us by the teachings of the national conscience. Our country becomes a task to complete, a problem to solve, a duty.
Ibid., pp. 505-6.
Thus, this dynamic and . . . futurist patriotism finds itself constantly obliged to combat the other, the voluptuous and quietist patriotism. To know what our country should be tomorrow, we have to weigh what it has been and accentuate primarily the defects of its past. True patriotism is criticizing the land of our fathers and constructing the land of our children .1
Yes! Here was the problem: it was not that the old order had collapsed—far from it; it was that the sense of a Kinderland, the hope for a future, had been lost. The patriotic task was to rebuild these hopes, to rediscover a stirring possibility, one that might move men to a common future. The patriotic duty was to speak out, to condemn, to suggest, to propose, to activate; an allegiance to the future entailed a willingness to criticize the past and to negate the present.
Might some think that such activities on the part of private citizens were improper, a spontaneous meddling in the work of the King and his governors? Spain, after all did have its official leaders. To be sure, they were not chosen by a particularly representative process, nor were they highly effective governors. Yet, were they not responsible for defining the national purpose? Was it not the citizen's duty to defer to their authority? The Spaniard, at least had to respond with an adamant NO! Perhaps the Germans, English, or French could leave politics to the politicians; the Spaniard could not. Ortega understood that a people were prior to their politics; that they were responsible for the failures of their officials; that, rather than the government reform the nation, the nation had to reform the government. Constructing a Kinderland had little to do with official politics; the people themselves had to confront their governors with a vision of the future.
Ibid., p. 507.
"El Sitio" would have no trouble with this point; it was a premise common to the numerous visions of Spanish regeneration. Making the point explicit, however, would prepare the way for his main concern: the people's means for making politics. Politics had two meanings, he would remind his listeners: "the art of governing or the art of obtaining the government and keeping it. Put another way: there is an art of legislating and an art of imposing certain legislative acts. To think that law is for every case the most circumspect and to think that sufficient means are possessed to pretend that this law succeeds at converting itself into written and ruling law, are very distinct matters...."2
This distinction had been the tacit basis of his political criticism, especially of his contempt for the Machiavellian practices of Spain's official politicians. In his speech, he would make it explicit. With the art of obtaining the government, a few men work within a given system to conserve their conventional affairs, jockeying incessantly to aggrandize their personal positions. With the art of governing, all men interact in every walk of life to transform, slowly but ineluctably, the given system of authority, and its concomitant conventional affairs, inspiring each other to reject the old and to pursue new aspirations. At its best, the art of obtaining the government would result in prudent lawmaking, provided the government was already a well-made machine. The art of governing would, in contrast, give rise to law-giving, the only process that could transform a decrepit government into a renewed system for making law.
"Los problemas nacionales y la juventud," Lecture at the Madrid Ateneo, October 15, 1909, Obras X, p. 117.
Spain was deficient in the art of governing. For that reason there was no Kinderland. The official politicians were adept only at obtaining the government; they were facile at making and unmaking legislation, but they lacked a vision, a purpose, a goal, a conception of law. He was bitter, like many Spaniards, at the way Spain's governor's used the government in patent contempt for the ideals —justice, liberty, legality—on which all government was founded. On another occasion, dwelling on the official abuse of government, he had proclaimed that "revolutions are just."3 Yet, here was the real problem: like most men, he was not a violent revolutionary. Revolutions were just, but not desirable if they could be avoided: the costs of revolutions, the human costs, the moral costs, the political costs, were much too high. Was there an alternative? He believed there was. He would try to explain the alternative to "El Sitio."
Revolutions aimed at depriving those who had obtained the government of this holding. Revolutions wrested possession of the state apparatus from the established groups. Real improvement, he thought, did not come from this act alone. Real improvement came from exercising the art of governing, which was quite different from holding possession of the state. Yet, in the past, revolutionary movements had concentrated on taking the state away from the old order. Obsessed with the art of obtaining the government, revolutionary movements had had great difficulty with the art of governing. Only at tremendous cost could they manage to build a new state. There was a better way. He believed negative revolution to be unnecessary. When exhausted, self-serving groups occupied the government without assuming responsibility to govern, in its deepest sense, they had effectively abdicated; they reigned without scepter. Obtaining the government was a waste. In an exhausted order, the art of governing could be exercised by whoever could find ways to do so. He would suggest some. He would suggest how concerned citizens might govern spontaneously, how they might indirectly yet ineluctably reform the nation in spite of the government.
"La pedagogía social como programa político," 1910, Obras I, p. 507.
"To be sure," Ortega would say, "politics is action; but, all the same, action is movement: it is to go from one place to another, it is to take a step and a step requires a direction that points straight out to the infinite. Among us there has been an improper separation of the politics of action from the political ideal, as if the former could have meaning orphaned from the latter. Our recent history makes patent the point of misery to which an active politics free of political ideals leads." He would call on his audience to turn away from official politics, not in overt rebellion, but in a spontaneous creation, one in which private citizens accepted responsibility for the art of governing and spread ideals of public life that would transform the country despite the moral inertia ensconced in the government. "What should it be?" Ortega would put to them. "What is the ideal Spain towards which we can orient our hearts ... ?"4
Here, he might have considered launching into a description of a Spanish Kinderland. Spain possessed many deficiencies; hence Spaniards have long excelled in proposing splendid programs of reform. An ideal Spain—the topic would call forth glorious proposals: a democratic, republican government, industrialization, land reform and the mechanization of agriculture, improvements in public transportation, reforestation, reduction of military expenditures, the expansion and improvement of popular education, and so on endlessly. But in view of the demoralization of official Spain, these would be futile proposals. They would all depend on governmental action. They were not ideals by which private citizens could orient their hearts. To promote a spontaneous, popular politics, a vital attempt at the art of governing, the critic could do better than dwell on the promised land. Instead, he would analyze the people's means: civic pedagogy, the education of the public.
Ibid., p. 508.
Thus he would arrive at the subject he really wanted to put before "El Sitio." Men had other means, besides politics, "to transform the given reality in the pattern of the ideal": education.5 This means could be used by every man at every moment, for education did not take place solely in the school; civic pedagogy was an omnipresent aspect of life in a community. From his familial background among journalists, from his own experience of having been stirred, not by teachers, but by events, and from his philosophic studies in Germany, he had developed a profound, open sense of the educator's mission. His main task was to explain this mission to "El Sitio."
Civic pedagogy!? The educator's mission!? Why weight the excitement of politics with such dull concerns? In present-day America we know the expectations the young orator had to combat. People perceived education to be on the periphery of public affairs. In training up this or that individual, even were he to become a powerful personage, men of affairs would be wasting their time; too many believe Shaw: those who can, do; those who can't, teach. Nonsense! Education was more than tutoring individuals. Everyone, everywhere, all the time—each taught; each learned; life was a great cycle of pedagogic influence. Doers teach; teachers do: education, properly perceived, was the art of governing.
The nature of Machiavelli's influence on later political theory is an extremely difficult question for intellectual historians. The point is well taken that Machiavelli was interested in the foundation of an Italian state; see The Prince, Chapter XXVI; The Discourses, Chapter IX; Hegel, "The German Constitution," in Political Writings, T. M. Knox, trans., pp. 210-223; and Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, pp. 177-180. But as Hegel suggested sympathetically, Machiavelli was so convinced of the overriding expediency of unifying Italy, and as Strauss suggested critically, Machiavelli was so desirous of success, he concentrated on the practicalities of getting and preserving power, rather than on the determination of the fit uses of power as classic political theory had done (in addition to the above, see Leo Strauss, What is Political Philosophy? and Other Studies, pp. 40--9, 286-290). As a lawgiver, Machiavelli seems to have panicked from the pressure of events. In this context, as Hegel said, he must be read with the history of the Italian principalities clearly in mind. However, Machiavelli has had the most significant influence, not on men such as Hegel or Fichte, but on practical politicians, the lawmakers, and on the political science they utilize. These men were not interested in Machiavelli's law-giving; they have been struck by his rationalization of political practice and have carried his inquiry much further in this direction, not in order to found better states, but to administer and preserve the given ones. Machiavelli began the confusion between practical and pedagogical politics by introducing the techniques of the former into the pursuit of the latter. Unfortunately, studies such as Friedrich Meinecke's Machiavellism: The Doctrine of Raison d'Etat and Its Place in Modern History, Douglas Stark, trans., have preserved and deepened this confusion. The way towards overcoming the difficulties is pointed out by Alberto Moravia in his brilliant characterological critique, "'Machiavelli," in Man as an End: A Defense of Humanism, Bernard Wall, trans., pp. 89-107.
Obviously, my conception of classical political theory has been deeply influenced by Plato, primarily by the Republic and Gorgias, and secondarily by Protagoras, Meno, Apology, and Crito. I have been initiated into a study of Plato by Martin S. Dworkin through many long conversations and through his courses at Teachers College, Columbia University, on "'Aesthetics and Education"' and "Education, Ideology, and Mass Communication." The conception of Plato he nurtured in me has been reinforced by Eric A. Havelock's Preface to Plato and by Werner Jaeger's Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, 3 vols., Gilbert Highet, trans.
Since Machiavelli, men have confused the relationship between politics and pedagogy. Where Plato aspired to put philosophy in equal cooperation with kings, Machiavelli was content to put it in the subordinate service of princes. Machiavelli taught the prince to use reason, not in the pursuit of wisdom, but in a pursuit of power. Since then the possessors of power have exploited the control of education as a means of preserving their position. These practices make for good politics and bad government. They subject solutions to pedagogical problems, problems in the art of governing, to the expedient criteria of practical politics, the art of obtaining and holding the government. As we know, these practices turn educators away from their proper business. They transform the pedagogue in every sphere of activity into a salesman preserving the American way of life, a general planning the national defense, a policeman guarding the sidewalks and patrolling the highways, an economist allocating national labor skills, a technician underwriting future material progress, or a doctor raising standards of public health. All these functions may be necessary and desirable, but they are peripheral to education, to the continuous acquisition of culture, skills, and tastes, a continuous acquisition through which each person forms his character and capabilities and through which each generation assumes its historic qualities. Instead of facilitating education, the school, church, family, marketplace, entertainment, and opinion provide whatever the powerful practical leaders believe will enhance and preserve their position. In both Ortega's Spain and the present-day West, pedagogy, which traditionally concerned law-giving, has been made a mere handmaiden of the lawmaker.
This confusion has arisen in most modern languages, but it has been especially serious in English. In the late nineteenth century, the word "pedagogy" was identified with a system of didactics that reformers wanted to destroy. They at least managed to do away with the phrase "pedagogy." For a typical example of the educationist's attitude towards pedagogy see the entry under that heading in Monroe's Cyclopedia of Education. The article laconically proclaimed that the term had a dubious past and that wherever possible "education" should instead be used to escape the stigma of pedagogy. At the time the author was right, for "pedagogy" had generally been used as a synonym for "didactics," as "education" is now used carelessly as a synonym on the one hand for "training" and on the other for "propaganda." Perhaps we can steady the pendulum of fashion by insisting that both "pedagogy" and "education" be used rightly and whenever appropriate. Another amusing indication of the educationists' distaste for the word "pedagogy" is the metamorphosis of The Pedagogical Seminary into The Journal of Genetic Psychology, Child Behavior, Animal Behavior, and Comparative Psychology!
He would take the argument against this perversion of the civic order beyond justice and back to expedience on a higher level. He would speak of civic pedagogy as a political program. He would suggest that if practical men had the courage not to interfere in the people's efforts to educate themselves, the ancillary benefits from expedient programs for training the people would accrue twice over. But he would not take his stand only on the grounds of a higher expedience. He had been schooled in the classical tradition of political philosophy. In this tradition, the problem of pedagogy was the foundation. Pedagogy was not didactics. Far from it! Pedagogy was the basic component of political philosophy.
Ortega rather fully explained the importance of governing goals in Vieja y nueva política, 1914, Obras I, pp. 267-308. See also "Asamblea para el progreso de las ciencias," 1908, Obras I, pp. 106-110, where Ortega contended that training in particular, practical social skills would not really have an effect unless their underlying cultural principles were previously mastered. The conception of civic ideals introduced in this section was characteristic of Ortega's thought. See, for instance, "La pedagogía social como programa político," 1910, Obras I, pp. 507, 514-7; Vieja y nueva política, 1914, Obras I, especially pp. 271--6, 288-294; and Mirabeau, o el político, 1927, Obras Ill, pp. 601-637. The influence of Ernest Renan on Ortega was important concerning the concept of civic ideals; see "La teología de Renan," 1910, Obras I, pp. 443- 467; and La rebelión de las masas, 1930, Obras IV, pp. 265- 270.
It is worthwhile to note the similarity of Ortega's conception of a civic ideal as something that points to the infinite and Edmund Husserl's conception of the telos of European man as an infinite, rather than a finite goal, "Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man," in Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, Quentin Lauer, trans., pp. 157-8.
Classical political theory had explained how a community formed and persisted. Pedagogy was the branch of classical theory that explained, not how a teacher might conduct a school, but how ideals, spirit, mind, might function in the formation of a community. In the absence of a spiritual discipline, each man was the prey of his passions. These would beguile him into foolish deeds. These would destroy any nascent community. Thus Cain killed Abel. To moderate the power of passion, men created ideals of conduct. Ideals described not how men in fact behaved, but how they could and should behave. By reference to ideals men gave themselves a particular character. Doing so, they gained a certain dependability that under trying circumstances they would act in accordance with their self-imposed obligations. To the degree that men shared ideals, creating a common character, they formed communities. Ideals of conduct, taste, and thought enabled men to moderate their divisive passions and to live in harmony, in a common harmony attained without brute subservience of the multitude to a single member.
If the political theorist would seek, like Plato, to engender an authentic community, he would find that his task is not only philosophical, devising the ideals by which men can discipline their character; his task is also pedagogical, leading each man towards the personal formation of the common, rational ideals that the philosopher has discovered. Intellectually, pedagogy would aid men in selecting their common ideals and in communicating these to their peers; it would explain to them how character was created, and through character, community. Practically, pedagogy would help spread common standards among a people; in doing so it would serve in forming a community of men. Pedagogy would be a foundation of public affairs: men can live in common and in freedom only by reference to rational, consistent conceptions of truth, beauty, and goodness, and the acquisition of these conceptions is education, the continual process through which men are entering into their social compacts, forming and re-forming their communities.
In real life, however, the pedagogue's effort to extend the reach of reason, to found community, often would give way to the politician's obsession with obtaining power, with preserving position. Hence, education has frequently been treated as a subsidiary of practical politics, and pedagogy, a concern for the standards that men might cultivate in themselves, has been dismissed as irrelevant to Realpolitik. Practical leaders, at heart nihilists, recognized the expediency of appearing to be principled: they gave lip service to generally accepted ideals, which educators, in turn, have been expected to perpetuate without questioning. Convention, false certainty, and hypocrisy thus become the basis for educating the public. Instruction becomes a process of transmitting ignorance, dissimulation, and moral vacuity from one generation to another.
An unbuttressed facade would stand steady, provided the winds were gentle and the earth did not quake. So too, a community might persist for years in an unrecognized disillusionment, provided it encountered no internal or external crises. But, under the logic of expediency, a domestic minority would be exploited, seemingly safely, until it rebels, demanding justice or perhaps repayment in kind. Under the logic of expediency, a nation would be tempted to commit mounting force in protecting its foreign interests, until it consumes its vitality defending bad investments. During the twentieth century, citizens of nearly every Western nation have faced a crisis of common purpose; and in Spain, following 1898, prolonged colonial difficulties and violent domestic separatism combined to nurture a generation of civic pedagogues, men reacting to the lack of significant ideals, men searching for new, common standards, men seeking a spontaneous reform of their nation.
With a reawakening of an interest in human ideals, men would cease to perceive pedagogy as a mere instrument of policy; they would again recognize it as a rudiment of polity. Important matters, therefore, were at stake for Ortega as he planned to affirm that pedagogy was the science of human ideals. He would reassert historical initiative for the intellectual and the teacher. The clerc had no reason to betray his office, to defer to the Worldly Wiseman; nay, the clerc had good reason to remain true to his duties. To the man of the world, voluntary, rational standards had become irrelevant. Eppur si muove! Eppure egli vuòle! Men continued to respond to aspirations. They led themselves out of themselves in an effort to realize their ideals, to remain true to their standards.
Ibid., p. 515.
Ideas girded any public order. Men who changed ideas would change all else. He would contend, at "El Sitio" and throughout his life, that practical affairs were secondary features of the community; they were dependent on a particular system of aspirations, the formation of which was the primary level of public affairs. Both the means and the ends of political, economic, and social activities followed, for the most part, from the spiritual activities through which persons constituted their polity. Ideals were evoked by teachers, preachers, writers, and thinkers, by men who cultivated ideals according to a pedagogy. Because a group of men received its character in response to the educators within it he would assert at Bilbao that "pedagogy is the science of transforming communities."
Heine, Religion and Philosophy in Germany, John Snodgrass, trans., p. 106.
Who made history? That was the question he would seek to raise. Practical men believed that they—the politicians, businessmen, and soldiers—made history. He would disagree. These men simply played out the script that had been composed, for better or for worse, by thinkers and teachers. He might have toyed with quoting Heinrich Heine's wise warning: "mark this, ye proud men of action: ye are nothing but unconscious hodmen of the men of thought who, often in humblest stillness, have appointed you your inevitable work."
The literature that seeks to declare an end to history seeks to do it on several levels; thus there is a literature of cosmic acceptance and a related one of a technocratic millennium in both of which there is manifest the desire to declare the resolution of some long-standing historical conflict. For cosmic acceptance see Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, Bernard Wall, trans., and L'avenir de l'homme; Roderick Seidenberg, Post-Historic Man: An Inquiry; and Kurt W. Marek, Yestermorrow: Notes on Man's Progress, Ralph Manheim, trans. For the technocratic millennium, see the last mentioned and Karl Mannheim, Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction. A practical result of the belief that the end of history is nigh is the increasing interest in describing the future, not only the issues that should be dealt with in the future, but the character of the solutions that will be arrived at in the future. An excellent debunking of these efforts is "The Year 2000 and All That" by Robert A. Nisbet, Commentary, June 1968, pp. 60–6.
For Ortega's expectation of a most historic era, see especially En torno a Galileo, 1933, Obras V, pp. 69-80, which gives the fullest development of his contention that Western history was going through a crisis. Ortega's essay "El ocaso de las revoluciones," 1923, Obras III, pp. 207-230, in which he argued that violent, rapid social revolutions were no longer possible, should not be taken to mean that historical change would stop.
Pedagogy is prior to politics. For each pedagogy that men master, they must create a corresponding politics. In his speech and throughout his career, he entertained the possibility that intellectuals could introduce into Spain and Europe a set of ideals, standards, and aspirations that differed from those in force and that would make a different kind of practical life possible, desirable, and finally ineluctable. Thus, he did not perceive the imminence of a post-historic era; on the contrary, it was potentially a most historic era ! He perceived a complicated, provisional, and open future; one that depended on our personally mastering the many modes of pedagogical power.
Thus, civic pedagogy was no dull weight crushing the excitement of politics, burdening it with didactic do-gooders. Civic pedagogy would be a great leaven, a vital yeast that would set the populace in ferment and make the community rise. The science of human ideals, pedagogy was the science of transforming communities; and it wrought change, not by imposing a Jacobin blueprint on the whole, but by effectively helping to raise the personal aspirations of each member. No worry: his listeners would realize that in turning to education he would not be addressing himself to the special concerns of harried parents and distraught teachers, but to the fundamental sources of further development in the history of Spain and, we might add, of the West.
"La pedagogía social como programa político," 1910, Obras I, pp. 508-9.
Through education we obtain from an imperfect person a man whose breast glows with iridescent virtues. Innately, no one is excellent, knowing, or energetic. But a vigorous image of a superior human creature floats before the eyes of his teacher, who, using the skills of pedagogy, injects this ideal man into the nervous apparatus of the carnal creature. This is the admirable, educative operation through which the Idea, the Word, gives itself flesh!...
Insofar as it is a science, pedagogy concerns transforming man's integral character, and it encounters two problems: the first is to determine what future form, what human standard, is to point the direction in which the pedagogue should push his pupil. This is the problem of the educative ideal. Should the teacher carelessly arrogate to himself the right to impose a capricious form on the human material that someone has submitted to his nurture? It would be perversely frivolous to define the ideal type through any means except rigorous and careful labor. The pedagogue shares responsibility for the present with other men; but precisely because he prepares the future, the future also weighs upon his responsibility. We are that which moved obscurely in the dreams of our fathers and masters, for fathers' dreams are their sons and the century that will follow. . . .
The science of pedagogy must begin with the rigorous determination of the pedagogical ideal, of the educative ends. The other problem that is essential is finding the intellectual, moral, and aesthetic means by which one can succeed in launching the pupil in the direction of the ideal. Just as physics establishes the laws of nature and then, in particular technologies, these laws are applied to industry, pedagogy anticipates what man must be and then finds the instruments for helping man succeed at becoming what he must be.
This matter is properly the subject of another book, but some remarks may be ventured. Rational necessity leads to the justification or rejection of assertions on educational grounds. In order to develop such educational justifications and critiques, we need to remaster philosophical idealism, for idealism alone yields an educational ethic, and idealism is comprehensible only if reason, thought, intellect, mind, or spirit are understood essentially as educational achievements of man. Men do not think because they are endowed with a physical apparatus capable of gathering and processing information, but because they have learned to think. Thus, as Hegel said, "it is education which vindicates a universal." (Hegel's Philosophy of Right, T. M. Knox, trans., Addition to #20, p. 281.) See also on this point the observation by W. H. Auden that ethics are to be implemented through pedagogy in "Die Bombe und das menschliche Bewusstsein," Merkur, August 1966, p. 707. The significance of this tradition for American educational theory and practice should be great but it is a complicated question that can only be outlined here.
American law proceeds on the basis of a practical ethic: One may do more or less as one pleases provided the concrete consequences of an act do not infringe on the rights of others. This procedure is well and good, for positive law must deal with concrete instances, which cannot be ordered on the basis of universal principles. This point is basic in the idealistic tradition, a fact that is often overlooked by critics of idealism. (See Plato, Statesman, 294 f., Republic, IV, 425 f., and Laws, 788, 807.) However, besides positive law, with its courts and police power, there is a moral or spiritual law, which is enforced by criticism, exhortation, self-discipline, and the real, but mysterious, nemesis. Whereas the weakness of Continental rationalism has been a tendency to attempt to legislate the moral law into a positive law, the failing of Anglo-American pragmatism has been a tendency to judge the moral law on the basis of its practical positive ethic, when in fact a spiritual, educational ethic has been in order. Thus many contemporary rhetoricians do not understand criticism of their persuasive practices. The criticism is pitched on the spiritual level and it objects to the rhetoricians' debasement of the standards of truth, beauty, and propriety. The rhetoricians understand the criticism on the practical level and quickly wrap themselves in the Constitutional defenses against those who would deprive them of their freedom of speech. For instance, note how, in Edward G. Bernays, ed., The Engineering of Consent, especially p. 8, a problem of educational ethics is reduced to one of practical ethics: surely the critics of public relations would not want to do away with our rights to speak freely? But the objection was not against the practice, but against the principle implicit in practice. The critics are really asking the PR men to decide freely to speak in a different manner. Bernays does not entertain this possibility in his breathless justification of the persuader's rights. A practical ethic passes on whether a concrete act infringes on the rights of others; an educational ethic examines the general rule implied by a concrete act. To be sure, the categorical imperative cannot replace common sense as the guide to our practical actions, nor one may add, was it meant to do so. The categorical imperative is, however, the formal principle of educational ethics. In our concrete activities we not only accomplish specific acts, but we also make existential affirmations of general principles, even though we may not be aware of it. Now, we should act so that the principles thus affirmed are ones that we would be willing to uphold as general rules of moral conduct, of aesthetic creation, and of intellectual activity. Thus, we should conduct our activities on the practical basis of common sense within the spiritual limits of a categorical imperative. Practical matters are not divorced from questions of principle any more than are real questions of principle independent of practice. Thus, in The Vocation of the Scholar, Fichte put the matter this way: "I may here ... express the fundamental principle of morality in the following formula:—'So act that thou may est look upon the dictate of thy will as an eternal law to thyself'." William Smith, trans., The Popular [sic!] Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, 1889, p. 152.
See especially Plato, Protagoras, 313A-314C.
See especially Kant, Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht, in Werke in sechs Bänden, VI. p. 399.
Dilthey, Pädagogik: Geschichte und Grundlinien des Systems, 3rd, ed., Gesammelte Schriften, IX, p. 7.
But wait. Here was another problem. Liberal Spaniards would not like talk about "what man must be"; they had learned to chafe at the divine rights of didacticism that the Church long ago arrogated to itself. Could he use the rhetoric of critical philosophy he had learned in Germany? He would try. The rational necessity explicated by critical philosophy differed from both the moral necessity upheld by scholastic ethics and the political necessity imposed by authoritarian government. He would make it clear. By the human ideal, by "what man must be," one did not mean some sterile image of the perfect person to which all must conform. Instead, the human ideal denoted the common principles that, when used in diverse ways by diverse persons in diverse situations, marked each as a human being. One should base pedagogy on a cogent conception of the humanity of man, of what made the animal, man, into a human. With this contention, he would put his educational theory squarely in the liberal tradition. With Socrates, he would insist that teachers, all teachers regardless of their metier, were responsible for the quality of the nourishment they offered to the human spirit. With Kant, he would base his pedagogy on a philosophical anthropology, on the study, as the great idealist said, not of what nature makes of man, but of what man can and should make of himself. With Wilhelm Dilthey, he would hold that the human ideal was not revealed or imposed; it was the telos of all inquiry, or as Dilthey put it, "the blossom and goal of all true philosophy is pedagogy in its widest sense—the formative theory of man."
"La pedagogía social como programa político;' 1910, Obras 1, pp. 509-510.
"Man! Man!" he would exclaim to his audience. ''Who is man?" Here was the question. Answers had ranged from the cynical saying that man was the only creature that drank without thirst and made love in every season to Leibniz' s belief that man was a petit Dieu. "Be careful that interpretations of man fall between one and the other definition," he would caution.
Ibid., p. 510.
Man was a problem for man: that was his most human feature. Man's unique, human characteristic was that he had to decide what to make of himself. Here was the germ of Ortega's philosophy of life—his idea of "vital reason." Human character could oscillate between the beast who drinks without thirst and a small God; whether men traveled towards the former or the latter depended on their will: they were compelled towards neither. The variability of human character intensified the responsibilities of the pedagogue. Man's problem was that he made of himself whatever he would become, "and once we have let ourselves engage this problem without reservation, I believe that we will approach pedagogy with a religious dread...." Again, he would repeat the fundamental question: "What idea of man should be held by the man who is going to humanize your sons? Whatever it is, the cast that he gives them will be ineffaceable."
In "Biología y pedagogía," 1920, Obras II, pp. 273-307, Ortega seemed to renounce this contention that pedagogical goals cannot come from biology. However, in "La pedagogía social como programa político," 1910, Obras I, pp. 411-2, Ortega had had in mind traditional, materialistic biology, whereas in "Biología y pedagogía" he was discussing the method of inquiry developed by vitalistic biologists like the German Jacob von Uexküll. The results, when Uexküll's method was used to analyze the child's view of life, Ortega found applicable to pedagogy.
Ibid., p. 511.
Humanization was not a mechanical, strictly causal process, however. Man was not wholly a biological creature. Educating a man was not, like breeding a horse, a matter of bringing the exterior qualities of a species to perfection in a single member. The goals of education would not be found in biology or any of its derivative sciences. In keeping with the idealistic tradition, especially with the critical philosophy of Kant, he would warn against confusing our knowledge of phenomena with reality itself. "We must ask ourselves: is man a biological individual, a mere organism? The answer is unequivocal: No. Man is not merely a biological case, for he is biology itself; he is not only a grade on the zoological scale, for it is he who constructed the entire scale."
Ibid, p. 512
Man was more than a spatial and temporal creature because he carried within himself the idea of space and time. Certainly the human body was a physical body, "but I ask you: physics itself, what is it? Physics does not respond to its own laws; it has no mass, it does not obey the law of universal gravitation. Hence, gentlemen, physics goes beyond physical facts; physics is a metaphysical fact." Physics was part of a great range of creations—science, art, morality— that were metaphysical entities. These were not natural; they were not, in essence, physical objects. Metaphysical entities were ideals and standards that had been created by man, and through these man gave himself his own specific character. "Science, morality, and art are specifically human facts: and vice versa, to be human is to participate in science, morality, and art."
With this proposition, he would give a general answer to his question, Who is man? The goals of education would be found in the realm of science, morality, and art. All of man's mental creations were human ideals, which latently were common universals that would enable different men at once to particularize and to humanize their personal development. These metaphysical facts were neither natural nor necessary; their continual existence depended on the human will. He would mark off a great realm, which was filled with human ideals, as the special purview and responsibility of the educator. He would secure this realm against those who wished to deny its existence by reiterating the traditional duality between the physical and the ideal, between the rule of necessity and the rule of freedom. Along with certain other twentieth-century thinkers, he would escape the mind-body problem, not by reducing one to the other, but by showing that both existed in the lives of actual men, body as their physical life, mind as their spiritual life.
Ibid., p. 512.
Referring to the idealism of Plato, Hegel, Pestalozzi, and Paul Natorp, he would characterize the rule of freedom as a communal rather than an idiosyncratic rule. Science, morality, and art were not an "individual inheritance." They were a discipline to which one freely submitted in order to partake in common truth, general good, and universal beauty. Considered as a subject of natural forces, each man was unique and meaningless; but as a free being each man could sacrifice a bit of his uniqueness to gain meaning by participating in cultural endeavors. "Inside each of us, two men live in a perpetual struggle: a savage man who is willful, irreducible to a rule or to a pattern, a species of gorilla; and a stern man who is found to be thinking exact ideas, performing legal acts, feeling emotions of transcendent value. The wild instincts exist only for the former man, the man of nature; the latter, the man of culture, alone participates in science, law, and beauty." This participation distinguished the human from the animal man.
Ibid., p. 514.
Thus, to his question, Who is man?, he would answer that man is the embodiment of his common ideals: The metaphysical principles of science, morality and art were the common characteristics that made men human, that permitted community in diversity. Each child was shaped by the standards of his family, his city, his nation, and his heritage; and conversely, a man's family, city, nation, and heritage were particular ideals that oriented each man's personal aspirations. "Concretely, the human individual is human only insofar as he contributes to the civic reality and is tempered by it."
Ortega planned to expound two theses to "El Sitio." First, to determine what pedagogical ideals were most suitable for human aspiration, he would ask who man was and answer that man was human insofar as he fulfilled one or another metaphysical ideal. Second, he would begin contending that pedagogy was the fundamental, formative power of any community, but he would conclude that the given characteristics of a community, its established ideals and standards, were the most powerful pedagogical influences on its members. Were these theses circular? By all means, and that would be the source of their real import.
Martin Heidegger made a similar point in a more difficult but more systematic manner in Being and Time, I: 5, 32; and II: 3, 63; John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, trans., pp. 193-5 and 262-3. The actual issues that are raised with this question are immense. The fundamental issue concerns the type of rigor that the human sciences should pursue. The choice is between the rigor characteristic of abstract and natural science or that of a dialogue between two intelligent, informed men about a problem of common concern. Ortega, Heidegger, and many others were strongly in favor of the latter type of rigor. Any other, less anthropocentric rigor would put too great a strain on the tenuous bonds between principles and practice. At the time of his "El Sitio" speech Ortega would have been influenced by Fichte's Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre, Hegel's Wissenschaft der Logik and Phänomenologie des Geistes, as well as by Georg Simmel and the Marburg neo-Kantians. Later he would be, like Heidegger, deeply influenced by Wilhelm Dilthey.
If men could examine human matters with the rigorous detachment that natural scientists pretend to possess, his circular reasoning would be a mark against his ideas. But, men think because they find themselves shipwrecked in a sea of things and they must think in order to learn to keep themselves afloat. In human matters rigorous detachment was not possible, for the human sciences arose from man thinking about himself: they were inherently circular. Expunging the circularity of our thoughts would do violence to the objects of our intellection, in this case to ourselves. The actual significance of his ideas about pedagogy would be found first by recognizing that pedagogical phenomena required a circular description, and second by examining the consequences that followed from this situation
His first proposition led to a liberal conception of authority, one holding that authority over each person's activities ultimately resides in the person. Teachers needed to know the nature of a man in order to select the ideals that they should develop in their pupils, but the nature of the man was itself determined by the ideals that he adopted. The result was that pedagogical authority ultimately resided in the pupil, not the teacher; each person defined the place in the common, human world he would assume; enlightened ignorance of the pupil limited the teacher to provoking, criticizing, and generally enhancing the pupil's aspirations. No teacher had a basis for imposing his own goals upon another. In civic pedagogy, no part of the polity had the authority to define and impose its particular program on all.
Ibid., p. 520.
Ibid., p. 513.
Like most idealisms, his conception of communal authority was subtle, and hence easily misunderstood. Authority resided in each person, but it concerned common problems and potentials. He would reject a complete individualism; for if men renounced their common, intellectual resources in favor of idiosyncratic modes of thought, they would soon plunge themselves back into a state of nature. At the same time, he would not accept a radical socialization of the person. To be sure, he would observe that "the individual divinizes himself in the collectivity." But the collectivity, the community, did not exist apart from and above the person: no man could make an authoritative statement in the name of "society." Civic ideals did not exist independent of the persons who pursued them; and to compel adherence to one or another ideal was impossible, for an ideal, by definition, was the object of a man's aspiration. Instead, community depended on the free adherence by many persons to common standards and their voluntary pursuit of common goals. "We have seen how the civic fact appears to us as we search for the reality of the individual because in reality we find every individual always enlaced with others and because we find that, taking each one separately, his interior is prepared from materials common to other men. In essence, gentlemen, the communal is a combination of individual efforts to realize a common work." The collectivity through which the individual would divinize himself would not be a supra-personal, organic entity, but a metaphysical ideal that a person shared with other persons.
As the impossibility of objectively defining the nature of man restricted authority to the person's power over himself, the fact that the community was at once the result and the agent of education was the basis of democratic, egalitarian relations between men. If this circle accurately described human reality, if shared ideals were both source and result of education, man's civic relations were intrinsically open; they were continually subject to change and adaptation, yet their change and adaptation would always proceed through evolution, not revolution. A particular citizen or group had no way to fix once and forever the pattern of influence that formed and perpetuated the community, for the pattern was the cooperative work of all, each influencing the others. To introduce a completely novel pattern of influence and produce a revolution, not merely in word, but in deeds as well, was likewise impossible. A community developed as each man defined his vision of the future from the common heritage. To deny certain members of a group the opportunity to define their own place in its future was unjust. Listen now to what the youth would say; later, the mature man would speak again about the matter.
Ibid., pp. 517-8.
If community is cooperation, members of the community must, before anything else, be workers. One who does not work cannot participate in the community. With this affirmation democracy is impelled towards socialism. To socialize a man is to make him a worker in the magnificent human undertaking, culture, where culture means everything from digging a ditch to composing verses.
It is today a scientific truth, acquired once and for all, that the only morally admissible social system is the socialist system; but I do not affirm either that true socialism follows Karl Marx or that the workers' parties are the only ethically elevated parties. Regardless of what version you take, next to socialism all political theory is anarchic because it denies the supposition of cooperation, which is the substance of society and the regimen of community.
Passive cooperation characterized the slave who built the pyramids; the worker, if he is not be a slave, needs to have a living comprehension of the meaning of his work. To me it seems inhuman to keep a man in the comer of a factory unless he is given a vision of the whole so that he can gain a noble sense of his task.... Here is the ethical value of civic pedagogy: if each civic person has to be a worker in the culture, each worker has a right to endow himself with a cultural understanding.
Public instruction throughout Europe—not only in Spain—perpetuates through its organization a crime of lèse-humanité: the school is two schools—a school for the rich and one for the poor. The poor are poor not only in material matters; they are also poor in spirit. A time will come —disgracefully it is not yet here—when students of man will not need to classify him as rich or poor, as one classifies animals as vertebrate or invertebrate. But even worse, today men divide themselves into cultured and uncultured; that is, into men and submen.
Here he would take the part of the teacher, the political teacher, the civic pedagogue. Here he would criticize current standards; he would propose alternatives; he would invite each listener to seek to define for himself a more perfect Spain, to try to live according to this better vision. He and his audience would be plunged into the cycles of pedagogic influence that he would have pointed out. Spaniards could not, by means of programmatic proposals, impose a different form upon these cycles. Spaniards could, however, question their own civic ideals, provoking others to do the same; and with enough effort, they might bend the course of development, spontaneously making it point in a different, more hopeful direction.
Ibid., pp. 519-20.
This effort, exerted by each, to learn to live by more taxing, more liberating civic ideals, would be civic pedagogy as a political program. This program would by-pass official Spain. It would be a new politics. It would result in the Europeanization of Spain. As soon as Spaniards would begin to search for the ideals of their Kinderland, they would discover Europe. Spaniards could most improve themselves, and through themselves, their nation, by pursuing the standards of European culture; and as proof of this contention he would offer both Miguel de Unamuno and Joaquín Costa. Despite the differences of their doctrines, both men exemplified the potential power of those who would master European intellectual standards. He would leave "El Sitio" with a simple thought: "Spain is the problem and Europe the solution."
Editorial introduction to Ortega's "La pedagogía social como programa político," Europa, March 20, 1910.
Such were the intentions behind Ortega's words. The address itself went well enough; it was neither disastrous nor epochal. His speech was reported in Madrid, at least by El Imparcial. His ideas won favor with those seeking to create a radical "new politics"; they, at least, found inspiration in what he said. Thus, Europa, a short-lived magazine of the young regenerationists, introduced excerpts from his speech with the observation that "it contains a virtual program. It gives specific recommendations with which we concur, for we have united the two words Politics-Pedagogy into a single word, the Future."
But the speech itself was not as important as the aspirations it embodied. With respect to these, the speech could not help but fail, for the aspirations were enough to fill a lifetime. The great eagles had sunk their talons. Thereafter, came the ascent towards the heights.
The fragments quoted at the end of Chapters III, IV, V, X, XI, and XV have been translated by Kathleen Freeman in her Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers. The fragments quoted at the end of Chapters I, VI, VII, VII, and XVI have been translated by Philip Wheelwright in his Heraclitus. By Wheelwright's numbering system the fragments quoted are 10, 83, 88, 70, and 45. The fragment quoted at the end of Chapter IX has been translated by G. 5. Kirk and J. E. Raven in The Pre-Socratic Philosophers where it is numbered fragment 254. The fragment quoted at the end of Chapter XII has been translated by John Burnet in his Early Greek Philosophy, fragment 7. The fragments at the end of Chapters II, XIII, and XIV have been translated by W. H. S. Jones in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Heraclitus, fragments I, CXXVI, and XIX.
What mental grasp, what sense have they? They believe the tales of the poets and follow the crowd as their teachers, ignoring the adage that the many are bad, the good are few.