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The individual and society in Ortega's works. An approach to Man and people and The Revolt of the Masses.

22 May 2014
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
This presentation pursues a particular aim: to delve into the individual-society dialectics from the sociologic and anthropologic perspective of Jose Ortega y Gasset. Ortega was a prolific and distinguished philosopher of Spain in the twentieth century. He was one of the most important thinkers of Europe in the 20th Century. We will pay special attention to “El hombre y la gente” (courses of 1939/1940 and 1949/1950) and “The revolt of the masses” (1929). Both of them are vital to understand his philosophy and also contain some principles of sociology. Sociology, the study of the miscellaneous social life with its complex ties between individuals, maintains strong links, almost ontological ones, with the philosophy of Jose Ortega y Gasset. His philosophical thought hosts a complete historical sociology and anthropology which demands the importance of studying humankind as a social and cultural being within the circumstantial environment. His metaphysics about human life as radical reality recalls this sentence: "I am me and my circumstance, and unless I rescue it I cannot rescue myself". Ortega prepared a theory of human life which impregnated his complete philosophy in its diferent dimensions. The human life as radical reality contains the following characteristics: It is a personal life. My life is always submerged in a circumstance or world. The circumstance is full of possibilities. We have to take advantage of them. We have to choose between them, at the risk of making a mistake. The world contains easy things (effortlessness) and also difficulties. My life is, overall,not transferable. I must live my life for myself. How you live your life is your business. So, the human life is personal, circumstantial, not transferable and responsible. (“Man and People”, course, 1949-1950). There are two components of any human life: the self which anyone is and the circumstance or world of uses and customs where that self unfolds its social existence. The social uses as a part of "people" are the main body of the sociological and anthropological concerns of Ortega, who generally regards what is social in general as the human without a soul, the human as dehumanized or mechanized. The social in general is linked to the empire of the masses especially in Europe. Ortega alerted us to the dangers associated with the revolt of the masses in the social sphere, which includes the sphere of politics. Ortega always defended the individual against the masses. According to him, the individual freedom is very important in order to carry out and develop our vital and vocational project. For this reason, Ortega was considered by many other contemporary thinkers as a defender of the liberalism not only in a political sense, but in a philosophical or metaphysical way.
de Haro Honrubia, Alejandro