José Ortega y Gasset: Philosopher of European Unity

José Ortega y Gasset: Philosopher of European Unity

José Ortega y Gasset: Philosopher of European Unity

José Ortega y Gasset: Philosopher of European Unity

Excerpt

I first met Professor Harold Raley in April 1966, on the occasion of a visit to the University of Oklahoma, where he had come to hear me lecture. Unaffected, modest, serious, and capable in appearance, but with an air of what I would call "youthful calm," he gave the impression of being unhurried and self-assured, and of quietly enjoying each passing moment.

He told me he had written a study of Ortega's thought, "José Ortega y Gasset: The Philosophy of European Unity," which he hoped I would consent to read. I agreed to do so and shortly after our conversation he sent me a copy of the manuscript.

My surprise on reading the opening pages of the work continued to grow the more I read. That it was admirably organized and well written did not surprise me; that Raley was intelligent, that he had worked hard on his topic, that he had a wealth of information—none of this surprised me. What was uncommon, and quite surprising to me, was that a man so removed from the Spanish intellectual scene, one who had seemed, on the surface, to be quite "foreign" to the intellectual world with which his study dealt, should at no time appear to lose his bearings. On the contrary, his intellectual sense of direction never faltered. He was not deceived by appearances. With incredibly sure judgment he made his way through the copious Ortegan bibliography, unerringly distinguishing the critical chaff from the grain, mere glitter from pure gold. His intellectual motto could have been a certain verse by Antonio Machado: "A distinguir me paro las voces de los ecos" ("I stop to distinguish voices from echoes").

The result could be characterized as nothing less than excellent. This book, written at such a great geographical, historical, and linguistic distance from the world of Ortega, offered an incomparably truer view of Ortega than the great bulk of the bibliography Raley had used. His was a clearer vision than that of many books and essays written, as it were, from a "nearby" vantage point.

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