Man and His Circumstances: Ortega as Educator
by Robbie McClintock
Chapter XV — The Dawn of Historic Reason
"Apuntes sobre el pensamiento: su téurgia y su demiurgia," 1941, Obras V, p. 524.
Losing himself in the jungle of ideas that he himself created, man does not know what to do with intellect. He continues to believe that it performs an indispensable service, but he knows not what this is. He knows only that its service is not the one attributed to it during the last three centuries. He predicts that reason will have to be given a new place in the system of actions that make up our life. In short, having been the great solution, intellect has become for us the great problem.
XV — The Dawn of Historic Reason
"Entorno al 'Coloquio de Darmstadt,' 1951," 1962, Obras IX, p. 634.
In 1951 Ortega paid tribute to the profundity of Martin Heidegger's philosophic style. Although much of Heidegger's writing was difficult to read, his prose was marvelously adapted to his purpose: to reform the vocabulary and syntax in such a way that men could express new thoughts more effectively.
In La idea de principio en Leibniz, 1947, 1958, Obras VIII, pp. 272–3, Ortega went to some pains to establish the chronology of his intellectual development vis-à-vis Heidegger's. In Prólogo para alemanes, 1933,1958, Obras VIII, esp. pp. 43–54, Ortega explained his relation to phenomenology and Husserl. Ortega's petulance at being called a litterateur in comparison to thinkers like Heidegger came out sharply in a note in The Origin of Philosophy, Toby Talbot, trans., p. 86, fn. 7. "Perhaps it is further noteworthy that there has never been a genus dicendi truly adequate as a vehicle for philosophizing. Aristotle was unable to resolve this problem that fools ignore. His work has been preserved because he held onto his own lesson notes. I personally have had to contain myself for thirty years while fools accuse me of producing only literature, and the worst part is that even my own students find it necessary to pose the question of whether I have been writing literature or philosophy, along with other ridiculous provincial notions of this order!"
Meditaciones del Quijote, 1914, Obras I, pp. 320–1.
See the extensive reports on Ortega's lectures on "¿Que es Ia filosofía?" in La Nación, (Buenos Aires), Nov. 10 and 14, and Dec. 25 and 28, 1928; and ¿Que es filosofía?, 1929, 1957, Obras VII, pp. 275–436.
Ortega spoke from experience, for he had had a new thought, but he could express it effectively only after he had contended with Heidegger's prose. This fact has prompted some to suggest that Ortega was a disciple of Heidegger, a suggestion to which Ortega did not take kindly. On this matter, only two points should be made. First, there is a difference between having been influenced and being derivative. Ortega was no follower; several years before Heidegger' s first publications Ortega had uncovered and discussed the reality on which he would base a reformed reason. All the same, Ortega doubtless found Being and Time, which was published in 1927, to be a good heuristic, for starting in 1928 he produced a series of substantial essays about the correspondence of reason to the realities of life, and from the first of these he acknowledged the value of Heidegger' s work. Recognition of this influence detracts nothing from Ortega's achievement, which was a personal achievement that followed its own course and that led in a direction rather different from Heidegger's aloof Gelehrsamkeit.
Speculative philosophy faces forward; it is not, as Alfred North Whitehead would have had us believe, a series of footnotes to Plato, or it does not at least arise in this retrospective manner. On the contrary, speculative philosophy is our effort to solve in the future certain problems we perceive in the present; and only when we are searching for a day yet to come can we usefully write footnotes to Plato, for in this way they gain a prospective significance. Present problems and future hopes are the foundation of all historical valuations: history is the teleological science par excellence; and anachronism is an historical sin, not because it violates the past, but because it diminishes our sense of the future. Since history is a teleological study, historians often overturn the valuations of their predecessors, and historical figures are usually most comprehensible when they are seen, not as the genetic product of their past, but as the teleological creation of their future. The continuity of culture lies, not in the mysterious power of great works to mold their progeny in the pattern of the past, but in the magnificent capacity of great men to appropriate their patrimony in the work of the future. Since we have by no means finished appropriating the patrimony of the last hundred years, the intellectual history of this period is still indeterminate.
What is it that a creative thinker appropriates from his peers? It is not primarily a series of particular points; men of large mind take in so much from their past and present that one would lose control of one's work trying to identify each bit and assign it to its proper source. A creative thinker primarily appropriates a set of central concerns from his peers; in communicating with them in fact and fancy, he comes to see certain problems as the ones that must be mastered if he is to take a leading part in the thought of his time. The job of the intellectual historian is to make manifest the great systems of concern that give rise over time and space to an intellectual community.
Second, properly treated, the doctrinal formulas of both men are irrelevant to the actual concern, for no one can copyright reality. During the early twentieth century, many serious thinkers were reflecting on the problem of reality and its importance for the authority of reason. With respect to fundamentals, one does not devise ingenious formulas, one hopes to uncover that which is. What matters is not that one or another person first worked out the correct doctrine, but that as various men point the way—and there were many in addition to Ortega and Heidegger—Europeans manage in the day-to-day complexity of their common lives to reform reason and shore up its authority. Were this a book on the reform of reason we would turn not only to Heidegger, but also to Dilthey, Brentano, Husserl, Scheler,Blondel, Croce, Rickert, Cohen, Vaihinger, Jaspers, and many others. It is, however, a book on Ortega, who would have a prominent place in the larger story and who is the central concern in this preliminary version.
Most of the important sources are mentioned in the notes. It may be helpful, however, to list here the major sources for this effort along with their approximate dates of composition: ¿Qué es filosofía? (1929), "¿Qué es el conocimiento?" (1931), Unas lecciones de metafísica (1932), En torno a Galileo (1933), "Guillermo Dilthey y Ia idea de Ia vida" (1934), "Historia como sistema" (1936), Ideas y creencias (1940), "Apuntes sobre el pensamiento" (1941), "Prólogo a veinte años de caza mayor, del Conde de Yerbes" (1942), Origen y epílogo de Ia filosofía (1943), "Commentario al Banquete de Platón" (1946), and La idea de principia en Leibniz y la evolución de Ia teoría deductiva (1947).
But although Ortega is the occasion of our inquiry, his theories should not be the object of our inquiry. He set forth his own position at length, repeatedly, and with elegance. For a full exposition of Ortega's ontology and his conception of historic reason, the reader should go to Ortega's own works, to What is Philosophy?, Unas lecciones de metafísica, "Prólogo a Veinte años de caza mayor," The Origin of Philosophy, and most importantly, to La Idea de principia en Leibniz. The last mentioned is a major philosophic treatise, the richness of which would be impossible to summarize adequately. But to do so is not our purpose. Studying "Ortega as educator," our task is to grasp the gist of his ontology, his conception of historic reason, to see how these pertained to his mission as an educator, one committed to furthering European unity.
For a number of intelligent critics, the problems of European life in the twentieth century seemed to be rooted in the stigma that had become attached to reason, not to Reason disembodied, but to the personal reason according to which each man may choose to live his life. In every class, in every profession, in every nation, too many men seemed willing to pursue their respective activities without thinking seriously and personally about what they were doing. Of course, the causes of this heedlessness were manifold: on the material level there was the pedagogy of abundance; on the political level there was a simultaneous complicating and narrowing of alternatives as the possibilities of the nation-state were realized; on the cultural level there were new marketplaces for ideas that encouraged men to adopt positions, not to think thoughts.
In addition to these and other fundamental causes of the European crisis, another type of problem complicated the situation. Basic developments such as the pedagogy of abundance were serious but open developments; that is, the cycle of influence involved could lead either to degradation or improvement, depending on whether innumerable, diverse individuals perceived the surrounding abundance as an exuberance of possibilities or a cornucopia of achievements. If men viewed their surroundings as a basis from which to work at unifying Europe, Ortega believed that the concrete achievements of the men who had built the European nation-states would not be perceived as a comfortable, undemanding inheritance; instead, each particular man would find that some definite aspect of his national ambiance offered him an exciting, demanding intimation of a supranational destiny, one in the pursuit of which he could nobly discipline his character. Critics were unlikely, however, to stir the technicians working in diverse spheres of activity, the men who might invent powerful supranational offices, because these men did not believe in the task. To them, reason should invent only means, not ends.
Reason thus presented a double problem with respect to the reform of European affairs. First, owing to the traditional conception of reason as thinking in correspondence to res, substance, be it physical or spiritual, many were strongly attracted to hypostatizing important ideas like society, to asserting that the idea must correspond to a thing, and to finding their purposes in the needs of these imaginary entities. Second, the better educated, who had followed the philosophical developments since the mid-1700's, no longer had confidence in the rationality of the traditional conception of reason; they could point out the error of hypostatizations by slack thinkers, but they had few alternatives to offer. The most thoughtful had the least conviction, a condition that made them weak in the bedlam of public voices. A new ontology was important for practical affairs because it would help the more serious, careful thinkers speak out with intelligent conviction.
Whether Ortega's philosophical reforms could have the practical implications claimed for them can be best judged after contending thoughtfully with the problem that Ortega contended with himself in working out his theories. The problem, recall, was this: in the past, the reality to which reason was supposed to correspond consisted in things, substances, in bodily things and in spiritual substances; but after Kant's criticisms, faith in the reality of any res—of any thing or substance, spiritual or material—would not sustain a system of reason, for the link between reason and res could not be made and any attempt to do so would end ultimately in skepticism. There was simply no way to test the actual correspondence between a phenomenal depiction of a thing and the thing-in-itself; and the profound effect of this fact on the traditional distinction between reason and opinion was beginning to be generally felt throughout the public, for it made reasonable men hesitate to speak with conviction and it made impulsive men more ready to act impulsively. Every man thus had before him this question: was a correspondence between the results of reason and an authentic reality still possible?
Origen y epílogo de Ia filosofía, 194.3,1960, Obras IX, p. 397.
Ortega thought such correspondence was still possible, but not if one simply refurbished the traditional theory. He returned to the human problem that gave rise to philosophy; he did not dwell only on the theories recorded in philosophy. "Without now pretending to express a formal opinion on the point, permit me to insinuate the possibility that what we are now beginning to do under the traditional banner of philosophy is not a new philosophy, but something new and different from all of philosophy." As a result, what is important is not his formulas, his theories, which, stated baldly, and secondhand no less, will seem meaningless; what is important is the problem and the answer to it. If one seriously entertains the problem—Is there a reality to which reason corresponds?—then Ortega's formulas may help suggest a solution to the problem as one perceives it. The basic mistake of academic philosophers has been their expectation that solutions to the problems of philosophy should be encased in the formulas expounded by their peers. But the problems that are worth concern are human problems, your problems and my problems; and the test of a philosopher's formula is not whether it is an eternal truth, but whether or not it serves as an occasion, helping you and me grasp and resolve the problems we perceive. Thus, we shall not bring Ortega's ontology to the bar of analytic judgment; we shall instead try to put his question and suggest the lines along which he thought a man might answer it.
To begin, note that nothing in Ortega's view denied the independent existence of the world out there. Many persons—and not only the naive—are put off by the apparently infinite arrogance of the idealist who seems to make the entire universe a work of his meager imagination. All Ortega held, following Kant, was that the objective universe, which certainly must exist apart from our ideas of it, could not serve as the foundation of reason, for reason could properly tell us nothing about the universe, material and spiritual, as it existed in and for itself. Our ideas about the universe did not correspond to the universe-in-itself. Still following Kant, Ortega held that res was a transcendental ideal, a concept, not a substance, that men postulated in order to map their material and spiritual surroundings. With this position, neither Kant nor Ortega denied an external world, they asserted instead that the foundation of science was not in that external world. To encounter the reality to which reason corresponded, one had to look for something other than substance.
Let us pose the question, what is real? On reading this question, one may take it as a mere phrase, three words cast in a particular grammatical construction. In that case, we should call the phrase a mere appearance, for there was no correspondence between the conceptual intention the words carry, namely to put a question about the character of reality, and one's mode of concentration on reading them, which may have been that of daydreaming to pass idle time, speed reading to acquaint oneself with a curious character, or fatigue: in any case the question—What is real?—did not correspond to what one was actually thinking. On the other hand, the phrase may have been a truth, for on reading it one might not have merely mouthed the words; one might have actually entertained the problem by wondering what it is that is really real. One might have stopped, recalling the profound perplexities that moved one once on looking up at the night-sky, filled with distant stars, on running sea-sand through one's hand while viewing an expanse of beach, or on seeing an ancient fossil exposed when the spring frosts laid bare a new surface of shale. At times, one wonders: is it all as it seems, or is it a vast deception? Who am I, an animate speck, a thinking spark, lost in the midst of immensity? What is real? What is true? What is the basis of this vast spectacle before me and within me? People who are perplexed by such questions philosophize; and with the comparison between reciting by rote the phrase What is real? and the actual feeling of perplexity at the uncertainty the question is meant to denote, we uncover the reality to which, Ortega believed, disciplined intellection could truly correspond.
Before any of us can concern ourselves with the reality of res, we are living thinkers who, in the reality of our lives, posed the question of reality. Ortega was not pointing here to our phenomenal lives, which we are aware of retrospectively as the sum of our experience. The reality of our lives is not for each of us phenomenal; the reality is not our report, public or private, that this feels hot and that that tastes sweet, for these reports can easily be falsified, both intentionally and unwittingly. The reality of our lives is instead the succession of instantaneous presences, of active actualities: now feeling the heat, now tasting that which we call sweet, now seeing, hearing, thinking, doing, wanting. Whereas we can falsify the experience in the reporting of it, the experiencing itself was what it was, a dynamic reality that is the absolute, irrevocable ground against which we judge the truth or falsehood of the phenomenal experience reported in hindsight. It will seem paradoxical at first, but it is a fact of life, a simple, inescapable, yet fruitful fact: experiencing is a priori. Active experiencing is prior to experience, to our phenomenal awareness of what transpired; experiencing this or that is a definitive actuality, it is the ground, the reality, to which our experience, our phenomenal awareness, can and should correspond.
¿Qué es filosofía?,1929, 1957, Obras VII, pp. 410–1.
We find ourselves in a world, doing certain things: I am writing, you are reading; both of us are in definite places, I scratch my eyebrow, toying silently with words, testing their adequacy to my intention. We each stop, wondering what in all of this is real, and following Ortega we decide to put aside, temporarily, millennia of metaphysics; we decide, instead, to look at ourselves and our immediate surroundings, feeling that if we cannot find reality here before us, we will have scant basis for finding it far out there. Thus we note: "the being of the world before me is ... a functioning upon me and, likewise, my acting on it. But this—a reality that consists in an I seeing a world, thinking it, touching it, loving it or hating it, being enthused or grieved by it, transforming, enduring, or suffering it—is what has always been called 'living,' 'my life,' 'our life,' that of each one of us." Each of us is living his life; that is the occasion of our joining in an effort at communication. This living is the reality that gives rise to all our experience of the world without and the world within. "Hence, let us wring the necks of those venerable and consecrated words, 'to exist,' 'to coexist/ and 'to be,' in order to say in their place that the foundation of the universe is 'my living' and all the rest that is or is not is in my life, inside of it."
See for parallel-views by Schütz his essay "On Multiple Realities," (1945) in Alfred Schütz, Collected Papers, Vol. I, pp. 207–259. Schütz knew of Ortega's work, but primarily of Ortega's sociology as expressed in Man and People; see Schütz, Ibid., pp. 142–4.
In due course we will touch on some of the difficulties that arise in this revision of reason, but our purpose here is not to debunk the argument, but to try experiencing the reality that Ortega believed was the basis of reason and of the distinction between truth and appearance. To treat the matter fully would take us far afield, for as Ortega showed in his work on La idea de principia en Leibniz, the topic is a substantial problem for philosophers, one to which many of the more technical tomes in the philosophic tradition are centrally important. Furthermore, a full excursion into the subject would not only require a discussion of the philosophic past far more extensive than the one attempted here, it would also entail a much more extensive inquiry into the philosophic present, which includes numerous lines of parallel reflection. This inquiry would carry us not only into the work of such well-known figures as G. H. Mead, Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre, but also into the writings of important but less renowned men such as Herbert Spiegelberg and especially Alfred Schütz. Here let us stick to Ortega.
The reality to which reason corresponded, Ortega held, was not being, but living; not substance, but life. If living is actually a reality, it is here for each of us, here as reality, not as doctrine; hence we need not depend on Ortega's doctrine to be free of difficulties; rather we can welcome the difficulties, for once we have called attention to the reality, the difficulties make it possible for each of us to go to the reality, to test it, to investigate it, to become familiar with it, and eventually to use it or reject it as the basis of the rationality by which we discipline our thought.
Our reports of sensations and feelings can be most easily tested against the reality of living rather than being. Thus, what used to be, according to the old ontology, secondary qualities are now primary, for these are, when truly reported, in direct correspondence with our acts of experiencing. Perhaps the following will show how simple and fundamental this correspondence can be. The child of a friend was running along a rocky path intent on his goal when he stubbed his toe on a stone. As he cried, his father tried to distract him from the pain by telling him to think what a beautiful day it was. "But it hurts!" the child replied. "It hurts! It hurts! ... " And in concentrating on formulating and reiterating this reply so that all would hear, the child distracted himself from the pain and then turned to other concerns. Now we can see that the child's first reply was a truth that corresponded to the actuality of feeling pain, which was then the reality that he was living; but as soon as he started to articulate his feeling of pain, he began to live another competing reality, namely that of articulating his feeling, which soon became his dominant concern, so much so that the refrain, "It hurts!", kept up until after his toe had stopped hurting. Then, suddenly, when the child recognized that his report no longer corresponded to his feeling, he skipped happily off to play.
This example gives a simple instance of the way intellection, the child's through! that it hurts, at first corresponds and then fails to correspond to the reality of his life. This example indicates how such a theory of correspondence can be the basis of a regimen for our thought about our immediate sensations, emotions, and intuitions: our phenomenal reports of these should always correspond as closely as possible to the real sensing, emoting, and intuiting that provides the basis of the report. We see, thus, that basing reason on the reality of living brings into the sphere of reason aspects of life that were formerly "irrational." With respect to the standard of life, neuroses result, for instance, not from an inability to contain one's irrational drives, but from a failure of one's reason, in an expanded sense, for the neurotic person chronically dissimulates his experience and consumes great energies in falsifying his conscious reports of his innermost imaginings.
But let us not lose ourselves in byways. A correspondence between disciplined intellection and the reality of living is rather simple when what we are living are direct sensations and deep emotions. As we noted, these were formerly secondary and now seem primary. What is more difficult is to see how the primary qualities of old correspond to the realities of life. Yet if such correspondence cannot be elucidated, the reform of reason would simply trade a new one-sidedness for the old.
"¿Qué es el conocimiento?," El Sol, Feb. 23,1931.
"The truth is not that I exist because I think, but, on the contrary, that I think because I live, because life puts to me basic, inexorable problems." With this reversal of the Cartesian cogito, we encounter the vital source of the realm of res, or things, of the world out there. In Ortega's view, this world was not the primary reality, the ground of reason, but a derivative reality, a result of reasoning. In the course of living, men gave definite form to their phenomenal surroundings in order to act on them more effectively. Encountering difficulties in life, men sought to think about their surroundings because they wanted to think through these difficulties, which seemed centered out there in their environs. In order to deal with these concerns, men postulated a cosmos, a dual realm of matter and spirit. The sense of substance, therefore, is not in the correspondence of this concept to the things-in-themselves, but in its correspondence to the realities of life, to the fact that by its means men have been able to convert the inhospitable chaos in which they find themselves into a habitable cosmos in which they can anticipate, and even control, what the world will do to them and what they will do to the world.
Ibid., El Sol, Jan. 18, 1931.
In the conduct of life, each person had to think, he had to anticipate his performance, he had to preoccupy himself with the way he would live in this or that circumstance, because much of living was dealing with particular circumstances that could easily overwhelm him. "Each of us lives surrounded by things, by immediate objects that present themselves and make themselves obvious by themselves. Many of these things are mineral, others are living beings, and others are persons; and furthermore, still others are the intimate objects that we find to be no less immediate than those outside of us—our sadness and sentiment, our appetites, intentions, and ideas. The conjunction of all these things that are immediate entities that present themselves to us we call our circumstances or world." With respect to one's circumstances, living was more involved than the immediate reflex of feeling pain on kicking a stone; life often involved choosing, deciding, acting, judging. To facilitate these complex activities, men invented, transmitted, and ever expanded the realm of res.
Even the most abstract forms of reason had a vital basis, which ultimately was the ground of all rational authority. Ortega elucidated the basis of both moral and natural reasoning in the living of life; men had designed both, through the free play of speculation, to aid man in dealing with particular kinds of difficulties that arose in the course of living in a world.
Moral reasoning corresponded to the realities of living in a world of partly indeterminate circumstances. A man's circumstances included all that the world had been for the person, everything in the sum of his actual life up to his immediate present, the now that he was living; and as such, this man's world delimited a definite realm of future possibilities, of potential circumstances that were yet to be determined in their actuality and that the person had now to choose between. Living at this instant meant deciding between these possibilities. Man's dignity, anguish, and joy was that the influence of past circumstances in present decisions was not deterministic, for his world included his appetites, intentions, and ideas, which he could use to affect the value and force of his past, external circumstances. Here, in exercising one's freedom, men became aware of a desire for a system of moral reasoning, which would strengthen them in sportively resisting the inertias of their past and empower them to shape their future.
¿Qué es filosofía?, 1929, 195?, Obras VII, p. 435.
Ibid., p. 435.
"Deciding between this and that is the part of our life that has an element of liberty. Constantly we are deciding on our future being, and in order to actualize it we have to take account of the past and make use of the present to operate on actuality; and we do all of this inside of 'now', for our future is not any future whatsoever, but a possible 'now', and our past is the past up to now, not that of someone who lived a hundred years ago." One's life is one's now, at this instant, one's reading these words. One can comprehend these words first because one makes the commitment to take the effort to understand them and second because a multitude of past actualities has brought one to them and them to one; all of these circumstances contribute to making it possible for one to interpret their significance. Further, a wide range of future possibilities, significant or not as the case may be, depends on precisely how one interprets their meaning and on how one exerts his volition in the light of this comprehension. In short, in reading one is making a series of judgments that have irrevocable consequences for one's life, and these judgments are what one is now living. u 'Now' is our time, our world, our life . . . . Into it, we come encrusted [with particulars]; 'now' impresses on us a repertory of possibilities and impossibilities, of conditions, of dangers, of conveniences, and of means. It limits with these features the liberty of choice that moves our life, and it is, over against our liberty, the cosmic pressure; it is our destiny."
In living life, each man continually encountered a definite set of real choices between which he was compelled to choose. To facilitate this choosing, to make an unexpected wisdom possible, men early invented various systems of moral reasoning, not because absolute moral principles actually ruled over their choices, justifying certain ones and condemning others, but because with each choice a man obligated himself to make future choices from a range of possibilities limited by the past choice. Men quickly learned the desirability of being able to foresee the character of these obligations, to anticipate how present choices shape future options. Men soon discovered that in many situations the immediately easiest course could prejudice their future options: by lying, deceiving, and exploiting others, a man might attain his present ends while making his future choices untenable as others learned to distrust and hate him. Another man, a noble spirit willing to resist necessity, might have presently chosen a more difficult course, foreseeing that the ensuing choices to which it obligated him were more desirable. In the quest of such foresight, men invented the world of spirit in which they postulated the soul, eternal, all-knowing gods, the form of the good, and many other ethical principles.
We need not here recapitulate the history of ethics, showing how different systems in different ways all serve to forewarn men about the likely character of the future obligations created by present commitments. What matters here is first the recognition that the realities of living have aspects that men can deal with only through some form of moral reasoning, by some means for evaluating the quality of the obligations to which they are now committing themselves, and second the realization that whatever the principle from which particular men deduce their system of practical reason, the authority of that system lies not merely in its internal consistency, but further in its truth to the realities of the lives men live. Living meant choosing continually and thus creating real obligations. Hence, a man's moral reasoning was more than a nice set of edifying preachments, for he was going to live, and even die, dealing with whatever obligations he now took on. A man's moral reasoning was his means, good or bad as the case may be, of preoccupying himself with his obligations, trying to make them as sound as possible.
Ibid., p. 436,
To be effective, then, a system of moral reasoning had to correspond to the realities men were living. To inform a man about future obligations, ethical reflections must not falsify the character of his present mode of living. The quality of hypocrisy is informative only if it corresponds to a mode of living hypocritically. The concept of honesty is meaningless if it is used by a flatterer without attention to the way of living of the man called honest. All our ideals of character, in short, properly correspond to realities of living, and when they are used in such correspondence they can help us foresee what sort of future obligations, limitations, and situations are implicit in various present alternatives. This foresight would enable us to shape our lives according to a pleasing and possible pattern. Intentional self-formation, Ortega held, was the result of "preoccupation," our anticipation and evaluation of various possibilities through sportive, ethical reflections. "Life is preoccupation; and it is so not only in the difficult moments, but it is always so and in essence it is nothing more than this—preoccupying oneself. In each instant we have to decide what we are going to do in the next, what is going to occupy our life. It is, then, occupying oneself by anticipating; it is preoccupying oneself."
Moral reasoning, thus, was man's great means for preoccupying himself with his life. To live was to find oneself in a definite world endowed with particular powers and a determined past; to live was to find oneself forced to be continually deciding on which of the finite possibilities for the future would be the particular possibility that one would strive to realize. The consequences of these decisions were absolute. These determined one's life; hence in living one became either a petit Dieu or a petit Diable, for in living each man freely created major features of his inner and outer world, and these features would be either good or bad, beautiful or ugly, true or false, depending on the real character of his choices. Living one's life, bringing a self and a world into existence, endowing these with definite character, was serious sport: sport because one was free to make of oneself whatever was within one's powers and serious because one was responsible for living with the consequences. Thus, men invented concepts of the self, of the soul, and of spiritual qualities, not to describe some intangible substance within or around them, but to analyze the actualities they lived so that with their inalienable freedom they could avoid blind self-destruction and achieve full self-realization.
Whereas moral reasoning corresponded in such ways to the realities of living in a world of partly indeterminate circumstances, of exercising one's freedom of choice, natural reasoning corresponded to the realities of living in a world of partly determinate circumstances, of acting in definite ways. Our phenomenal world,. the world as it appeared to us, depended only in part on how we used our liberty, on what we chose to do; in doing what we chose, we had also to contend with a wide panorama of givens, of conditions, of facts that had to be dealt with. These conditions posed threats and offered challenges. Man early sought to devise ways to think about these determinate surroundings, not to understand the personal and social obligation that he took on in the course of choice, but to predict the consequences in the event of action.
"¿Qué es el conocimiento?," El Sol, March 1,1931.
For this purpose men postulated, in addition to a realm of spirit, a realm of matter in which the concept of substance was used to delimit more tangible things. As with moral reasoning, natural reasoning should not correspond to the things-in-themselves, but to the realities of living in a determinate world, a world that might or might not be determinate in itself, but that was clearly determinate with respect to the living, willing, thinking person. "Being, the essence of a thing, originally signifies the image of it that gives us vital security with respect to it." This test of scientific reasoning considerably broadened the scientist's purview. The essence of a thing was neither the image of it that put man subjectively at peace with it, nor the idea that let him think that he objectively knew and had control of it; the true, vital essence was the conception that put man as he lived his life in actual control of it. To grasp the practical significance of this distinction, take the case of our knowledge of the atom. For many centuries men were subjectively at peace with respect to the atom, for although a few had postulated its existence, all were ignorant of its nature. During the first half of the twentieth century men seemed to gain objective control of the atom, successfully using it in both war and peace. But whether our disinterested knowledge of atomic energy is adequate to give us vital security with respect to the atom is still moot, for although on objective grounds we have rather sophisticated control of atomic fission, on vital grounds we are dangerously uncertain whether we can control our control of the process. And if we do not, we will live the consequences—cataclysmic death.
Many may find it difficult however, to conceive of scientific reasoning as corresponding to the realities of living. This difficulty may be met head on. We are accustomed to thinking of the scientist as a completely disinterested spectator; even more, many believe that repeatable experiments and standard measures can open a window into nature herself. What one scientist sees can be seen by any man who repeats the experiment and conforms to the standards. Hence, to assert that scientific reasoning should, like emotional and moral reasoning, correspond to lived reality seems to open a carefully controlled system to the foibles of subjective judgment. But on examination, this danger disappears. The proper insistence on controlled observations, in Ortega's view, stipulates that the phenomena about which the scientist theorizes be real phenomena; that is, data about actual occurrences in the lives of certain men. The transformation of magic into science came when men stopped speculating about what they would like to have happen in their lives and when they began to reflect on what actually was happening, there before them. Being scientific about science, we will recognize that what is crucial for scientific observation is providing a systematic point of correspondence for scientific theory, a correspondence not to the objective universe, but to carefully recorded realities in the lives of particular investigators, repeatable experiences described by standard, common measures. The insistence on repeatability in experiments makes sense precisely because scientific theory should correspond not to things-in-themselves, but to the data the investigator actually experiences. Repeatable experiment is not a window into nature, but a means of keeping the scientist honest.
Here is another way of explaining the enlarged responsibilities of the scientist. He is first responsible for thinking in strict correspondence with the results gathered as he observes the particular events he seeks to understand. But this observing is not the whole of his living. From time immemorial, the great source of arbitrary error has been the failure to know oneself, to know what sort of life one was really, irrevocably living. The genius of rationalistic science was to perceive that for certain problems one could best control for lack of self-knowledge by recognizing as pertinent only the results of the scientist's controlled observing, declaring irrelevant all the rest of his living. This procedure worked so long as men could safely separate the domains of moral reasoning and natural reasoning. But the separation depends on a fortuitous condition: namely, that many "things" around us function independently of us and can therefore be isolated for purposes of observation. In observing in our lives things that function independently, we do not need to consider how they act on us or how we might act on them; thus, we can pretend that we, as living persons, are not implicated in these "objective" events beyond our act of observing them.
¿Qué es filosofía?, 1929,1957, Obras VII, p. 300.
This pretense breaks down, however, whenever the thing we observe enters into our lives in any capacity other than as the object of disinterested observing, that is, whenever we begin acting on or with what we have been observing, or whenever what we are observing, perhaps a human being, has claims on our benevolent interest. As a result, we find that the methods of "objective" science are mere conveniences, appropriate only under special conditions. Consequently, natural science does not provide a model for all reasoning, especially for reasoning about man. In the human sciences, and even in applying the natural sciences to the pursuit of human purposes, the thinker has to take into account a far wider range of realities than those resulting from his carefully limited observations. As Ortega saw it, natural science was not the great exemplar. If reason should correspond to the realities of living a life, natural science was a special form of reasoning applicable only in unusual circumstances. "After having suffered shame when men of science disdained philosophers, throwing in their face the taunt that philosophy was not a science, today philosophers are ... pleased by this insult; for, catching the taunt, we return it, saying: philosophy is not a science because it is much more than a science."
Living one's life was a reality to which emotional, moral, and natural reasoning should correspond. If Ortega's vision is valid, then the true test of any system of reasoning is its truth to life; and this test will be performed in the human world as each man finds, examining the matter for himself, either that he can, or that he cannot, live better by thinking in correspondence to the realities of life. This vital test can take place only slowly as diverse persons begin to examine what disciplined thinking entails, what grounds exist for it, and what place such thinking has in their immediate, irrevocable living. This vital test is not yet complete—it has barely begun; and rather than here declare a verdict, one way or another, let us look instead at what Ortega believed would be the signs indicating that men were beginning to live by means of historic reason.
"Guillermo Dilthey y Ia idea de Ia vida," 1933, Obras VI, p. 174.
In his essay on "Wilhelm Dilthey and the Idea of Life", Ortega insisted that the biographer had to complete his subject's work in order to do justice to it, for only then could the significance of it be properly appreciated. Ortega's biographers should do something similar, for throughout his old age he contemplated but never wrote a magnum opus. The book was to be The Dawn of Historic Reason, which was to contain his invitation to the future. But events were not kind to the aging Ortega. From the outbreak of the Civil War until his death in 1955, his life was one of continual wandering and intermittent sicknesses; of fleeting leisure, fitful work, and interrupted activities. Through these two decades he accomplished much in spite of the distractions, and a draft of The Dawn may yet appear from among his unpublished papers. But so far, it remains merely a repeated promise made in various notes from 1936 onwards.
Ideas y creencias, 1940, Obras V, p. 379.
All the same, The Dawn of Historic Reason is an essential book for our purposes. In his published works there are several indications of the subjects that Ortega intended to cover in it, and he even put a draft of its opening chapter before the public. But for the most part, we should leave the content of the work for the future, and we should concentrate instead on its function. Even if the work was never written, the idea of it served an important function in Ortega's mature thought. If we can grasp this function, we will find that most of his later writing contributed to its fulfillment. Perhaps this "great philosophical memorandum book," as he once called The Dawn, was never finished because it was not a book at all, but the sum of his work.
"Historia como sistema," 1936, Obras VI, p. 38.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, IV, i, 1; Hugh Tredennick, trans.
Respectively: Origen y epílogo de la filosofía, 1943, 1960, Obras IX, p. 385; La idea de principia en Leibniz, 1947, 1958, Obras VIII, p. 300; Velázquez, 1950, 1958, Obras VIII, p. 493; and Ideas y creencias, 1940, Obras V, pp. 379–409.
In 1936 Ortega announced the impending publication of this book, calling it On Living Reason. It would be, he said, "an essay at a prima philosophia." First philosophy is the Aristotelian name for metaphysics, which Aristotle defined as "a science which studies Being qua Being, and the properties inherent in it in virtue of its own nature." Since Aristotle held that Being was always a substance, a res, we might be surprised to learn that Ortega contemplated a work on first philosophy; and this surprise will be further compounded when we examine his other references to The Dawn, for they do not seem to point towards metaphysics in any Aristotelian sense. For instance, in the early 1940's Ortega described his projected work as his "historic catechism," and in 1947 he claimed that in it he would distinguish between "the creators of a land" and "its inhabitants," referring with the phrase "land" to the few great philosophical systems. In 1946 Ortega promised that one of the chapters would present 'The Principles of a New Philology," and in 1940 he published a draft of The Dawn's opening chapter, which was a preliminary critique of historic reason called "Ideas and Beliefs."
Thinkers working in the post-Aristotelian tradition will be hard put to understand how an essay on first philosophy, the study of Being qua Being, could properly include reflections on the philosophy of history, philology, and epistemology. In the Aristotelian hierarchy of studies, these are secondary subjects. Certain readers will have noted a similar reversal when in discussing the correspondence of reason to the realities of living we began with the emotional and moved from it to the moral and then to the natural. These reversals are symptomatic of the fact that with the dawn of historic reason Ortega envisaged a fundamental break with the Aristotelian first philosophy; and a major concern in Ortega's later work was to show that the Aristotelian conception of Being qua substance was simply a theory that did not adduce Being qua Being at all. Hence, Aristotle's metaphysics was not a first philosophy, but a secondary one that was dependent in actuality on the transcendent reality of certain men, that is, on Aristotle and his readers living their particular lives and thinking in those lives certain metaphysical propositions. Consequently, a part of the reform of reason entailed redefining prima philosophia. By virtue of this redefinition, the topics mentioned by Ortega, as well as several others that he discussed from 1936 onwards, found a proper place in a first philosophy.
Aristotle contended that metaphysics should be the study of Being qua Being because it seemed to him that only in this way could he find the first principles and ultimate causes that he sought to understand. With Ortega's ontological reforms, substituting for Being the fact of living, first philosophy would tell about the living of living instead of the being of being. In first philosophy one would search for the first principles and ultimate causes not of life as a thing, but of the living of life. Thus, one would need an historic catechism; a distinction between creators and fulfillers, an understanding of the use and disadvantage of words, of ideas, and of beliefs for life. The hierarchy of studies would be turned upside-down. The theoretical sciences and especially the study of Being qua Being would become secondary, for these concerned the dependent, hypothetical substances that, in the course of living, men had created by postulating various concepts. In the place of these studies, the practical sciences would become the primary ones, for these had direct reference to the first philosophy, that of living qua living.
Meditación de la técnica, 1939, Obras V, pp. 341–2.
After an ontology of life has replaced that of res, an inquiry similar to the Aristotelian conception of ethics would become the prima philosophia; but the similarity would be one of concern, not of doctrine, for the Nicomachean Ethics was of a piece with the Metaphysics. Aside from their different places in the hierarchy of studies, the major difference between the new and the old ethics would be that, in accordance with an ontology of life, the unmoved mover ceased to be some distant divinity and became the living man who found himself alive and had to live by moving, choosing, acting, and doing. The first cause was my living, your living, your finding yourself shipwrecked in a world and forced to keep yourself afloat or to let all end; the regress of real causes was not infinite: for each person, it had a finite beginning and end in the actualities of the life that he lived. My living h• the cause of my thinking, as well as the cause of all that I have to think about; the final cause, the telos of it all, is not the quiescent contemplation of a pure and absolute mind, but the fullness of the active instant, here and now. Thus, we do not live to think; we think to live: "life is not fundamentally what it has been believed to be for so many centuries: contemplation, mind, theory. No; it is production, fabrication, and only because of these does life require thought. Therefore, afterwards and not before, life is mind, theory, and science . ... "
La idea de principio en Leibniz, 1947, 1958, Obras VIII, p. 2.68.
Life began with living, in that act was life's first cause, for by looking outside of life for its being, one could never approximate its realities, even if one perfectly catalogued its ingredients. Life was its own first principle and ultimate cause. Living was always some form of doing, a special type of which was thinking. Hence, the human endeavor was not to proceed towards contemplation by means of action, but to proceed to action by means of contemplation. A man who lived in this manner, by acting in accordance with his thinking, would occupy himself significantly in philosophizing, in thinking particularly about ethics, the practical science par excellence, the purpose of which was to elucidate through contemplation the means for living a good life. In spite of themselves, Ortega suggested, past philosophers had by and large followed this procedure in practice. "Knowledge perfects work, pleasure, and sorrow; and vice versa, these drive and direct [knowledge]. Therefore, after its initial stammers and fortuitous discovery, when philosophy formally began its historical passage of millenary continuity, it established itself in the Platonic Academy as an occupation originally with ethics. From this perspective, Plato never ceased to be Socratic. Whether larval or palatine, philosophy always implied the 'primacy of practical reason.' It was, is, and will be, as long as it exists, the science of doing."
For Ortega, first philosophy was a study of the way life was lived, a study that was undertaken in order to learn how to live better. First philosophy did not, however, give rise to a corpus for instructing others how to live their lives; the study of how one man could manipulate others was not the study of living qua living, for the lives of others could be influenced only by pallid abstractions about other peoples' business. In contrast, first philosophy dealt with actualities, for it concerned each man's understanding of his life; and hence it amounted to a regimen for self-formation, for living one's life was a matter of giving form to oneself. First philosophy was first in the sense that it concerned a man's shaping of the immediate, irrevocable realities of his life, in that it involved his determining the life he lived and his bringing his self into existence; and all else depended on this first philosophy because everything else that he perceived was a function of the reality he lived. In cultivating his self he laid the foundation of everything else; and the theory that he used consciously or unconsciously to guide his cultivation of his character was the foundation of all his secondary reflections about the things he met with in his life. First philosophy was the personal attempt by a man to give his historic reason, the reason by which he shaped his life, a firm foundation. In this sense, first philosophy was a pedagogy of self-education. Ortega's conception of historic reason was reason viewed as the means, not the end, of self-culture.
Self-education was the concern of first philosophy, for the basic reality was a man's living his life, and the particulars within his life were created through his course of self-formation while living his life. As a man shaped his capacities in this way and not that, as he chose to live here and not there, as he willed to concentrate on this concern and not that, as he cultivated his self in this manner and not that, he determined what phenomenal world he would inhabit. This situation—more precisely, this manner of situating himself in a world—was not solipsistic, for, no matter what, the man's life would involve both his self and a vast, chaotic flux of actual circumstances. There would always be real elements in his living that were outside his self, but the particular nature of these elements depended first, although not completely, on how he formed his self. This self-centeredness of a man's reality gave him no justification for exploitative, egotistical arrogance towards others. The self brought into being through a man's self-education was not his "self-image," his phenomenal conception of his self as it was touched up by wishful thinking. On the contrary, the self created by first philosophy was the man's real self, which was what he lived immediately and irrevocably, in spite of his pretty self-images. This real self gave no sanction to egotism. Although a man's real self was the basis of all else, it did not justify either his insensitive exploitation of others or any other vital shortcut, for in adopting such views, he was not justifying exploitation, but making himself an exploiter; and in this case, his arrogant egotism simply became his means of hiding from his subjective self-image the real character of his actual, transcendent life.
Aletheia, uncovering, unmasking, has always been what first philosophers sought to do to reality; and in the twentieth century, when reality has come more and more to mean the actualities of living our lives, the whole urge of European philosophy has been to break the persuasiveness of the elaborate collective abstractions by means of which men can hide from the realities of their lives. Here is the common commitment binding such diverse creations as Heidegger's obscure and difficult efforts to reform philosophical language; as Camus' clear, biting, and pointed outrage in "Pourquoi l'Espagne?"; as Sartre's infatuation with men beyond the pale in his appreciation of Genet; and as Ortega's plea for clarity about the collective abstractions that cloak senseless passions with empty justifications. The truth thus spreads: to improve the quality of our lives, we should act on the realities, not merely on the fictions. Hence, the great problem for self-fulfillment and common development has been to shear away our paltry means of self-deception and to free men to care for the one reality of which they may be the master, themselves.
Self-education is possible, although it seems paradoxical, it being the art of leading oneself out of oneself. If historic reason, reasoning in correspondence with the realities of life in order to cultivate the possibilities of life, were ever to become a characteristic concern of Western men, it would be through a seemingly paradoxical development in which historic reason would be spread as men lived by means of historic reason. This paradox can be resolved only by reference to—nay! only by the presence of faith. There is no easy escape from this age-old problem.
Those who suddenly feel uneasy by this talk of "faith" need not despair. The paradox that historic reason can come into being only through historic reason calls on men to have faith, to have a living faith that has nothing to do with dogma, official doctrine, or certified confession. Faith should be our willingness to act by means of precisely those powers that we hope to perfect through our actions. Thus, faith should equal self-education; faith enables a man to learn a language by using the language, to create trust by having trust, to develop historic reason by thinking by means of historic reason. Such faith does not result from producing a professed allegiance to one or another doctrine; the attempt to force, manipulate, or cajole men into accepting particular tenets is a sure sign that such faith is absent, for faith should always be a spontaneous commitment to a matter without which the matter would be impossible. Causal necessities do not produce faith; faith is the fount of all possibilities, upon which causes may thereafter play. Men spread faith by having faith, for faith is a vital commitment, a lived decision to recognize and pursue this or that possibility. Faith itself, not the object of the faith, is thus the unmoved mover of all human development.
Faith cannot be produced, and in the absence of it, a man can produce nothing. To plant a seed, the primitive farmer must have had faith in its power to grow: that agricultural science began in religious myth was not irrational. The same would be true of historic reason: to allow it to develop, one would have to have faith that it would develop. Without that faith, the paternal teacher would overstep the bounds, he would try to use abstractions to impart historic reason to his dependents. Such a program would simply spread a dependence on abstract tutelage. Hence, Ortega devised no plan for forcing his view of historic reason on other men, for he had the faith that on encountering historic reason other men would also spontaneously have faith in it. There would be nothing more absurd than paternal instruction in the art of self-culture, in historic reason.
When a man had faith in historic reason, he would live with the personal recognition that reason was not some enormous body of abstract truths, but a means of his self-formation. He would act with the understanding that reason was, like his hands, legs, or eyes, a part of his anatomy that could, when properly disciplined and coordinated, aid greatly in living a good life. Recognizing that reason was a crucial element in living his life, the man would know immediately that right reasoning derived an ineluctable authority from its correspondence to the realities he lived. Thus, when a man had faith in reason, when he went ahead and lived by the aid of reason, he provided reason with a transcendent sanction and overcame the impossibility of providing from within the realm of pure thought alone, an effective justification for the authority of reason. By living reasonably, a man provided a justification from the realm of reality. Men need not live by reason because it has a proven authority; reason could gain a proven authority because men live by its means, and the only way to disprove this authority of reason would be to live completely without resort to it.
"Apuntes sobre una educación para el futuro," 1953, 1962, Obras IX, pp. 665–675, esp. pp. 672–5.
Historic reason signified the adaptation of all modes of thinking to assisting a living man's effort to shape the realities of his life. Unlike abstract reason, historic reason was not a corpus of timeless truths. Instead it was the continuous recurrence of timely truths; hence the skeptic could not deny historic reason in principle unless he could rigorously avoid in practice his own resort to any form of disciplined intelligence, any thinking that accorded with the occasion he was vitally experiencing. Since historic reason was not the sum of teachable truths, it could not be spread programmatically. For instance one could never officially base a school curriculum on historic reason, for "the curriculum" was a fiction that could not be endowed with vital reality. Any such pretension would miss the living actuality of historic reason, namely that it is the reason that has historic reality because it is my reason, your reason, the reasoning that each of us actually uses in living life. Historic reason could not be an attribute of one or another fictional program; it could only be a an attribute of particular, living persons. Historic reason could at most make itself felt in an educational program when particular persons went beyond the official prescriptions of the program and acted as they saw fit according to the light of their own reasoning. For example, when the Ford Foundation asked Ortega to suggest a program of education for the future, Ortega replied that such a pronouncement, no matter how profound, would saddle educators with an anachronistic view. Educators themselves had to clarify their views of the future continuously.
La rebelión de las masas, 1930, Obras IV, p. 225.
In keeping with such restrictions, Ortega offered no program for promoting historic reason. He simply invited each man to proceed on the faith that he would accomplish something significant for himself and his peers if he successfully perfected his historic reason, that is, the disciplined intellectual powers that he used in living his life. As Ortega saw it, such an effort could authentically arise only from an ethical, sportive commitment; causal force of one sort or another could not produce allegiance to historic reason. Such force would only reduce man to his least common denominator; and our most gratuitous yet important task is to save ourselves from the forceful fools who are at once too solicitous of our future and too suspicious of our power to permit us to save ourselves! "Here is the greatest danger that today threatens civilization: the statalizing of life, the interventionism of the State, the absorption of all social spontaneity by the State; that is to say, the nullification of the historic spontaneity that ultimately sustains, nurtures, and impels the destinies of man." The failure of faith embodied in orthodoxy, the mistrust of man that underlies statist paternalism, leads to the constriction of man.
Instead, when a faith spreads as men find it in themselves, life does not constrict, narrowing into the dull repetition of favored formulas; on the contrary, with a faith life expands, for with a living faith men accept new possibilities and begin to base their efforts on potentials that in the absence of faith would not exist. The spread of historic reason might revitalize the ethical sensibility of Western man, and this revitalization might in turn renew the European's power of historic initiative. But this possibility was not a blueprint for renovation; the future could not be implemented by a mere policy, for the future was that which confronted each and all with a radical contingency: not the right of self-determination, but the inevitability of self-determination. Hence, historic reason could become a faith only if men freely gave themselves to it, having faith in it, accepting it exuberantly as an unnecessary possibility that they would nevertheless use to guide their lives.
Ultimately, Ortega came back to a reliance on man's exuberance, his aspirations to excellence, his ethical urges, his erotic drives. Historic reason could spread only through the game willingness of men to take a chance, to have faith, to act on something that would exist only if men freely acted on it. The only hope was man's power to hope, for there was no necessary source of the unnecessary. Morality always arose through prophecy, not manipulation. Men have freely acted ethically because the attraction of a possible future drew them forward, not because the causes of a completed past pushed them from behind: punishment might force men to conform to sanctioned practice, but it would never inspire them to act autonomously. Therefore, Ortega did not lay out a program through which a faith in historic reason could be assuredly produced. He was content to prophesy a potential future and to invite others to join in finding diverse paths to its fulfillment.
We arrive at nothing more or less than an invitation to reform—but what an invitation! Recall how Plato said that the only politics one can take part in is the politics of one's own character. To change the community we each must have a change of character. The realities of life are such that any particular person, after he has seen to the conditions of his own character, can only invite others to do the same, for no power in the world can either force another to perfect himself, nor can any power, but death, force another to stop seeking self-improvement. If men could devise a sound understanding of the art of self-formation, they would have a tremendous defense against their paternal, statist peers. Men could turn away from the hopeless inertias of practical politics, and with a great-souled joviality they could leaven public life with diverse personal initiatives. With faith in the dignity of personal existence, the radical concern in living became the effort to realize one's self, the fullest human possibility that one could live.
Self-culture, self-formation, self-education became the basic problem of life. Ortega's second voyage, which death terminated long before the journey was complete, was an invitation to see whether innumerable, small spontaneous reforms in the life each man lived could aggregate into such a transformation of the Europeans' character that an undreamed of political, economic, and social life might become possible.
I searched into myself.
Annotation A1 continued:
So far, only H. Stuart Hughes has essayed a full assessment of the concerns uniting European social thinkers since the late nineteenth century. Consciousness and Society: The Reconstruction of European Social Thought, 1890–1930 and The Obstructed Path: French Social Thought in the Years of Desperation, 1930–1960 are the first two of a three part survey of the situation. These are competent works. Hughes has, unlike many popularizers of particular movements, acquainted himself with the full range of what was written. This is especially true of Consciousness and Society, but even in this book there is discernible an obtrusion of American behaviorism onto the controlling definition of social thought, which prompts the author to ignore significant thinkers. In the sequel, the complete omission of Jacques Ellul and Georges Gurvitch from his assessment of French social thought is a serious flaw, which could on the proper occasion lead into a full-scale critique of Hughes' division of the social thought of 1930 to 1960 into "French" and "anti-Fascist emigré" schools.
A less satisfactory general survey is After Utopia by Judith N. Shklar. This book was criticized in the text, pp. 327–30. Its weakness is integral, arising it seems to me because the author did not have a thorough acquaintance with any single writer with whom she dealt; as a consequence, she did not really understand her subject. A scholar develops a much surer sense of the issues of a time after he has contended with the complete work of one of its representatives. My own conception of European social philosophy is shaped by my study of Ortega: my knowledge of Ortega has affected the way I read others, and a reading of other writers has informed my understanding of Ortega. I have become convinced that the lines along which the social philosophy of the last hundred years have been described are wrong and arbitrary and that we should ignore these and construct alternatives. This is not the right occasion to develop the theme that I think holds together the divergent lines of inquiry during this period; namely, the desirability of creating a system of normative discourse equal to the scope, range, and intimacy of our actual, normative relations. My sense of this problem is still dominated by Ortega; I see him at the center of a large group that is united by a common concern for the disjunction between our ability to act upon each other and our ability to assume reasonable responsibility for the consequences of these actions. Whether after the full study of this group I will still find Ortega central to it, is for the future to tell.
Men have never been able to anticipate perfectly the consequences of their actions, and thus philosophers have always been concerned to improve our capacity to think through the implications of our deeds. But in recent times, the scale of human action has greatly expanded, which has intensified the age-old problem of understanding our personal and collective responsibilities. This concern has unified the work of many recent thinkers, all of whom have worried intensely about what might best be described by a phrase of Wolfgang Köhler, "'the place of value in a world of facts." The literature that developed from this concern is variegated and profound. A full discussion of it here would take us too far afield; I hope in the future to take up such a discussion on the scale it merits in a three volume study of cosmopolitanism and nationalism in modern thought, Power and Pedagogy. Here I shall merely note the contributions to the concern that have informed my understanding of Ortega. For the sake of brevity, these writers can be grouped as Ortega's elders, peers, and juniors. I mention those who, although not necessarily an influence on Ortega or influenced by Ortega, have contributed to my understanding of Ortega.
Foremost among Ortega's elders was Wilhelm Dilthey. I do not agree with interpreters who think that Dilthey's form of historicism ends in a relativism; whenever locally circumscribed systems of value come up against evidence of the diversity of human mores, the first step is to recognize the dependence on locality of every particular precept and to find the highest values not in the particular precepts, but in the quality of the relation between different precepts and the situations to which they pertain. The works by Dilthey I have consulted are given in the bibliographical list. Most illuminating of them for displaying the concern animating Dilthey's reflection is Briefwechsel zwischen Dilthey und Graf Yorck.
Although a biologist, Jacob von Uexküll was deeply concerned with finding a place for value in biological science by uncovering its place in life. For Uexküll see the bibliographical annotation XI:e.
Neo-Kantianism, in the version of the Marburg school and in Hans Vaihinger's work, was an effort, among other things, to provide a foundation for rational valuation. Cohen's works cited in annotation II:e and Natorp's mentioned in II :m have already been discussed. Die Philosophie des Als Ob by Hans Vaihinger seems to those of a naturalistic orientation to lead to skeptical consequences; but in its context of replying to a naive overconfidence in positivistic science, it should be seen as a rather successful and influential effort to put reasoning about fact and reasoning about value on an equal footing, on which the proponents of one cannot denigrate the other as "mere speculation."
The important work of Brentano, Meinong, and Ehrenfels in searching for a rigorous conception of value as it is manifest in life is well surveyed by Howard 0. Eaton, The Austrian Philosophy of Values.
Also of great importance in giving a common basis to our reasoning about facts and values is the work of Edmund Husserl, which I am acquainted with through Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy, Quentin Lauer, trans.; Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, W. R. Boyce Gibson, trans.; and "Phenomenology," in the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. XVII, pp. 700–22.
Although German thinkers such as these were most influential on Ortega, others contributed to the clarification of the place of values in a world of fact. I have learned much from the works of Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, Arthur Mitchell, trans.; The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, Andrea and Brenton, trans.; Time and Free Will, F. L. Pogson, trans.; and Matter and Memory, Paul and Palmer, trans.
My own introduction to the problem of values has been in large part through American writers. Henry Adams is, I think, more important with respect to this question than is generally recognized. In addition to The Education of Henry Adams, a sustained treatise on the dilemmas arising from the disjunction between power and our understanding, see The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma, Democracy, and many of his letters, which all have penetrating insights into the problem of values in industrial democracies.
For William James, see The Will to Believe, Varieties of Religious Experience, and Pragmatism.
For Dewey, see Art as Experience, Democracy and Education, Experience and Nature, Freedom and Culture, The Quest for Certainty, and Theory of Valuation. It is important to treat serious pragmatism in its European, neo-Kantian context, rather than in the usual one of "American" pragmatism. James and Dewey both had the problem of value at the center of their concern, a fact inexcusably obscured by Dewey by his cant about scientific method, which opened his ideas to debasement by a horde of hangers-on.
Three books by Santayana have been useful to me in forming my ideas about Ortega: Scepticism and Animal Faith, The Life of Reason, and The Sense of Beauty. Unlike many, Santayana was far less concerned to apply the great tradition to contemporary problems and developments as he was to give a contemporary restatement of the tradition; thus his work lacks a pretension to novelty, a lack that repels some, but it has a grasp of the fundamentals and a literary grace that are an invaluable propaedeutic to a study of Ortega
Another writer of this era whose work is pertinent but not as well known to me is Alfred North Whitehead.
The thought of Ortega's peers has been presented in English in a way that reveals the herd instincts of the scholar. Neither phenomenology nor "existentialism" is a self-contained movement; and the attention that has been lavished on these has been way out of proportion to the relative lack of interest in closely related developments. To right the balance we need a work that will bring out the community of concern between men like Ernst Cassirer, Eduard Spranger, Friedrich Meinecke, Martin Buber, Theodor Litt, Werner Jaeger, Max Scheler, Georg Simmel, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel, Jacques Maritain, Johan Huizinga, and many others.
Unlike his fellow neo-Kantians, Cassirer was not interested in writing and re-writing fundamental critiques of reason; he seems to have agreed tacitly with the Hegelian position that the true phenomenology of mind is to be found in the historical unfolding of reason. Hence, his epistemology owes more to history than to logic. For instance, many of his works at first seem to be dispassionate historical reports, and rather dry reports at that. The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, Koelln and Pettegrove, trans., does not preserve the wit characteristic of Enlightenment thinkers; but it performs a much greater service, that of making present-day readers contend with the systematic convictions upon which Enlightenment thinkers based modern politics and philosophy, for these convictions are usually ignored by historians. By laying bare these convictions, as Cassirer said (p. xi), we confront not only our history, but the implicit premises of our living orthodoxies; and when we find these premises to be difficult and obscure, the intellectual history of the Enlightenment becomes the occasion for our critical examination of our present. This integral combination of history and philosophy characterized Cassirer's other major works—Substance and Function, Swabey and Swabey, trans.; The Problem of Knowledge, Woglom and Hendel, trans.; The Myth of the State; An Essay on Man; and The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, 3 vols., Ralph Manheim, trans. These works have provided important background for my study of Ortega; both the subjects they deal with and the discipline they engender are valuable in understanding Ortega.
Eduard Spranger was well known to Ortega and he is of much greater importance than is recognized in the United States. His Types of Men: the Psychology and Ethics of Personality, Paul J. W. Pigors, trans., has never found an American audience, partly because the translation, although "authorized," is far from the best one possible, and partly because Spranger's thought, like that of so many Europeans of his time, is too wide ranging to fit neatly into any of America's academic niches. In addition to Types of Men, I have found Spranger's Cultura y educación useful in my study of Ortega.
Of Buber's work, I have studied I and Thou, R. G. Smith, trans.; Daniel: Dialogues on Realization, Maurice Friedman, trans.; and Pointing the Way, Maurice Friedman, trans. In addition, Friedman's biography, Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue, is well worth consulting. Buber' s place in neo-Kantianism has not yet been adequately studied, and an inquiry into the relations between Buber and Cassirer, Spranger, Litt, and others would be fruitful.
For instance, Theodor Litt, who has been almost completely ignored, advanced ideas about the I-thou relation quite parallel and prior to Huber's, in Individuum und Gemeinschaft: Grundlage der Kulturphilosophie, which is, I think, an important book for the problem of value in the twentieth century.
Max Scheler was highly respected by Ortega, who memorialized Scheler's death in 1928 in "Max Scheler," Obras IV, pp. 507–511. I am familiar with Scheler's work through his On the Eternal in Man, Bernard Noble, trans.; Man's Place in Nature, Hans Meyerhoff, trans.; Philosophical Perspectives, Oscar A. Haac, trans.; and Probleme einer Soziologie des Wissens. John Raphael Staude's Max Scheler, 1874–1928: An Intellectual Portrait is an adequate introduction to Scheler's work, although Scheler's complicated and everchanging relations to the intellectual developments of his time still need further elucidation.
There is no escaping the fact, no matter how much one may dislike his character, style, or politics, that Heidegger's Being and Time is a most important book for anyone engaged in the study of systematic philosophy in the twentieth century. For such a person, the discipline of following Heidegger's reasoning leads to a tremendous clarification of certain problems discussed in the text above. However, let us be wary of Heideggerians who find his language a handy means for making a claim to personal profundity by aping their master's obscurity without matching his mission. Heidegger's ideas are not all that difficult, and it is these, not his jargon, that the student needs to master. In addition to Being and Time, I have studied Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, James S. Churchill, trans., and Existence and Being, Werner Brock, trans. The most helpful secondary source on Heidegger is, I think, Thomas Langan's The Meaning of Heidegger: A Critical Study of An Existentialist Phenomenology.
The work of Karl Jaspers has been less satisfactorily presented in English. More of Jaspers' writing has been translated than of Heidegger's, but until recently the major works by Heidegger had been translated whereas only the minor and middling works of Jaspers had been published here. Two books by Jaspers are closely related in concern and subject to books by Ortega, Jaspers' Man in the Modern Age (1931) to Ortega's Revolt of the Masses (1930), and The Idea of the University to The Mission of the University. In addition, I have found The Future of Mankind, E. B. Ashton, trans.; Philosophy and the World, E. B. Ashton, trans.; and The Origin and Goal of History, Michael Bullock, trans., significant in my work on Ortega. The recent publication of E. B. Ashton's translation of Jaspers' Philosophy, Vol. I, is a major addition, which begins to bring the English presentation of Jaspers into balance with that of Heidegger.
The important relation of Huizinga's Homo Ludens to Ortega's thought is discussed in annotation XII :g.
Among the books by Ortega's juniors that illuminate his thought, I would single out the following. Ortega himself pointed to similarities and differences between his thought and that of French existentialism, which meant to him primarily Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. For Sartre, see L'être et le néant, and for Merleau-Ponty see Phénoménologie de la perception, La structure du comportement, Humanisme et terreur: essai sur le probleme commumiste, and Sens et Non–sens. Two secondary works that are competent analyses are Joseph P. Felt III, Emotion in the Thought of Sartre, which goes beyond the strict limits of its title, and Albert Rabil, Jr., Merleau-Ponty: Existentialist of the Social World. The two most interesting writers carrying on Ortega's concern for the relation between technique and the humane value of life are Jacques Ellul in The Technological Society, Propagandes, and The Political Illusion, which are all discussed in the bibliographical annotations, and the Italian, Enrico Castelli, in Le temps harcelant, Introduction a une phénoménologie de notre époque, and L'enquête quotidienne. Of the two, Ellul is the more substantial and systematic thinker. There is a good review article on Ellul by William Gorman, "Ellul—A Prophetic Voice," in The Center Magazine, October–November 1967, pp. 34–7.
Martin S. Dworkin has directed me to many of the writers already discussed, and a number of others whose work needs to be taken into account, some of whose books I deal with in the text or bibliographical annotations. Among these are Gustave Le Bon, Julien Benda, Alain, Léon Brunschwicg, Alexandre Kojève, Alfred Schütz, Maurice Blondel, Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel, Georges Gurvitch, Heinrich Rickert, Georg Simmel, Theodor Geiger, Karl Mannheim, Werner Sombart, Wilhelm Flitner, Friedrich Meinecke, Kurt Riezler, Florian Znaniecki, Alfred Weber, Nicolai Hartmann, Otto F. Bollnow, Benedetto Croce, Giovanni Gentile, Guido de Ruggiero, R. G. Collingwood, and so on.