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The making of philosophy : Ortega y Gasset and the Spanish academia

Scotton, Paolo (2016) The making of philosophy : Ortega y Gasset and the Spanish academia. Advisor: Masala, Dr Antonio. pp. 468. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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This thesis analyses the concept and practice of philosophy within the Spanish academia during the first half of the XX century, in relation to different political and institutional regimes. In particular, the research focuses on the academic career of the most prominent intellectual of that time, José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), who dominated the Spanish philosophical scene for almost fifty years. Through the analysis and study of his intellectual biography and of his theory of education, this research sheds light on the instrumental political and social function that the academic teaching of humanities did play in the case of the Spanish contemporary history. The thesis investigates the mutual relations between the philosophy of Ortega and the one purported by the Spanish academia, thought as a social and political institution, considering the period comprised since his first appointment as a professor at the University of Madrid, in 1910, until his death in 1955. In particular, contrary to the majority of the studies on the author, the thesis pays particular attention to the second part of his life marked, since 1936, by a long exile, a brief return in Spain after the end of World War II, and the creation, in 1948, of the Institute of Humanities, an exp erim en tal ed u cative p r oject h e d evelop ed d u rin g Fran co’s regim e. The kernel of this investigation is constituted by an often dismissed featu re of Or tega’s p h ilosop h y: i.e. th e cen tr ality of the theory and practice of education during the whole course of his life. Significantly, he always developed his theorisations within a particular context: the Spanish academia and, in particular, the University of Madrid. This institution constantly underwent relevant changes during the first half of the XX century due to paradigmatic mutations in the political regimes leading the country. In particular, the period analysed in this thesis includes the study of four different historical paradigms: the period which followed the end of the Restoration, the one ruled by the II Republic, th e begin n in g of Fran co’s regime and, finally, its changes in relation to the post-war international context. This variability affected the way in which Ortega conceived the function of philosophers an d intellectuals in society. His philosophy, which can be defined as a constant intellectual protrepsis, changed in relation to the political and academic circumstances under which he lived. In fact, he conceived the role of the intellectual as strictly intertwined with a social and political mission, that went beyond the limited boarders of the academia, even if it always arose from this institution. Based on a stu d y of Ortega’s teach in gs in their historical context, conducted through a careful reconstruction of the academic debates that characterised the Spanish University – rendered possible by the analysis of a wide range of primary sources, both from personal and public archives, as well as of newspapers, cultural reviews, books and school texts – this research contributes to shed light on the functioning of the academic debate and its role within society, in particular in relation to the creation and diffusion of humanistic disciplines. The research offers an analysis of a very compelling case study that permits to comprehend how academic debates evolve under different political regimes, and the extent to which philosophy is always forged and, at the same time, contribute to modify the institution within which it develops. In conclusion, the work offers an innovative reading of the philosophy and intellectual activity of Ortega y Gasset, contributing to clarify one of the most controversial period s of his life which, until now, had not been analysed in-depth.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
PhD Course: Political History
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/229
NBN Number: urn:nbn:it:imtlucca-27256
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2017 09:50
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/229

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