Meditations on Quixote: Translated from the Spanish by Evelyn Rugg and Diego Marin Introduction and Notes by Julian Marias Paperback – Feb 15 2000
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About the Author
JosE Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) was a philosopher and for many years held the chair of metaphysics at the University of Madrid. His other books include The Revolt of the Masses, Man and People, Meditations on Quixote, and What is Philosophy? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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He wrote in the “To the Reader” section of this 1914 book, “Under the title of ‘Meditations’ this first volume announces several essays on various subjects of no very great consequence … Some of them, like this series of ‘Meditations on Quixote,’ deal with lofty subjects; others with more modest, even humble, subjects; but they all end by discussing Spanish ‘circumstances’ directly or indirectly. These essays are for the author… different means of carrying on one single activity, of expressing the same feeling of affection… The devotion which moves me to it is the keenest one which I find in my heart.” (Pg. 31)
He clarifies, “I hope that, on reading this, no one will draw the conclusion that I am indifferent to the moral ideal. I don’t disdain morality for the sake of toying with ideas. The immoralist doctrines which thus far have come to my knowledge lack common sense. And, to tell the truth, I do not devote my efforts to anything but the attainment of a little common sense.” (Pg. 36)
He suggests, “All knowledge of facts is really incomprehensive and can be justified only when used in the service of a theory. Ideally speaking, philosophy is the opposite of information or erudition. Far be it from me to scorn the latter; factual knowledge has doubtless been a form of science. It had its hour.” (Pg. 39)
He adds, “These Meditations, free from erudition---even in the best sense of the word---are propelled by philosophical desires. Nevertheless I would be grateful if the reader did not expect too much from them. They are not philosophy, which is a science.” (Pg. 40)
He asserts, “I do not believe that the important mission of criticism is to appraise literary works, dividing them into good or bad. I am becoming less interested every day in passing judgment; I feel more inclined to love things than to judge them.” (Pg. 49-50)
He begins the 15th essay with the statement, “A problem is not a problem unless it contains a real contradiction. Nothing is so important for us today, in my opinion, as to sharpen our sensitivity to the problem of Spanish culture, that is, to feel Spain as a contradiction. Those who are incapable of this, or do not perceive the underlying ambiguity beneath our feet, will be of little use to us.” (Pg. 105)
These meditations will be of great interest to anyone studying Gasset, and the development of his thought.
If you are not familiar with Jose Ortega y Gasset, consider making a New Year's resolution to read at least one of his works. Perspicacious, poignant and written with a true understanding of the human condition--from glory to ignominy. He writes with passion and a clarity that makes his ideas both accessible and understandable. It will naturally make you left with wanting more.
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