The Social Thought of Ortega y Gasset: A Systematic Synthesis in Postmodernism and Interdisciplinarity

The Social Thought of Ortega y Gasset: A Systematic Synthesis in Postmodernism and Interdisciplinarity

The Social Thought of Ortega y Gasset: A Systematic Synthesis in Postmodernism and Interdisciplinarity

The Social Thought of Ortega y Gasset: A Systematic Synthesis in Postmodernism and Interdisciplinarity


The Social Thought of Ortega y Gasset is the third and final volume of John T. Graham's massive investigation of the thought of Ortega, the renowned twentieth-century Spanish essayist and philosopher. This volume concludes the synthetic trilogy on Ortega's thought as a whole, after previous studies of his philosophy of life and his theory of history.

As the last thing on which he labored, Ortega's social theory completed what he called a "system of life" in three dimensions -- a unity in the plurality of philosophy, history, and sociology as three fundamental disciplines that enter into and overlap each other and all other humanities. In this volume, Graham investigates Ortega's social thought as expressed in his central work, Man and People, and in several pragmatic fields, interpreting it in terms of the comprehensive categories of postmodern and interdisciplinarity. While others have studied Ortega's social thought and recently his postmodernity, no one has done so in the context of his thought as a whole or by such a variety of methods.

The "unity in plurality" of Ortega's system is evident in the broad and varied structure of his sociology, which he intended to serve for postmodern times. His own postmodernism was rooted in Nietzche but also in the pragmatism -- from James, Peirce, and Dewey -- that informs all parts of this trilogy.

Ortega was the first educator with an interdisciplinary theory and practice -- another aspect of the "unity in plurality" of his system. He found inspiration in both ancient and modern precedents for what he saw as a postmodern method of investigating themes and problems that are common to all the human sciences. Innovations at his Institute ofHumanities were early postmodern precedents for a new interdisciplinary social method for use by specialists in a variety of fields. All of those interested in Ortega can utilize such methods to elucidate his thought as a who


In this third (social) volume, José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955), a leading philosopher-intellectual of the past century, addresses “our times” (which seem ever more “postmodern”) and the younger “generations.” At the outset, however, let me explain—in general terms— what my trilogy of studies is all about and what I hope it might achieve. “As a whole, ” Ortega regarded his thought as “systematic, ” as a “system” of life—philosophical, historical, and social—where he “anticipated” current “postmodernism” and “interdisciplinarity.” His postmodern outlook affected his philosophy of life, theory of history, and especially his sociology, with other related “social” disciplines—humanities and “human sciences”—treating politics, culture, pedagogy, and religion. For that extensive multidisciplinary scope, he developed new “methods” (linguistics, models, and hermeneutics) for interdisciplinary practice. Thereby he sought to teach both generations and disciplinary specialists how to “live together” (in convivencia), which is his first social principle. His efforts to integrate various fields by interdisciplinary efforts centered on three “basic disciplines” of philosophy, history, and sociology, which together constituted his unitary “system” of thought as a whole and the “core” disciplines of the “Faculty of Culture” in his Mission of the University. As three “dimensions” of life, they are evident in his key essays covered in my three volumes, which, together, examine the “system” of life that he briefly and privately described only in 1944. What needs to be done now is to take Ortega's own view of his “system as a whole” and strive toward synthesis within its parameters.


With this third volume on Ortega, I strive to complete a study of Ortega's lifelong project, the “system” of life that he had left “open” and unfinished at the end. The system does not exist except in its three parts, but, in schematic form, he . . .

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