Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega y Gasset's Philosophy of Subjectivity

Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega y Gasset's Philosophy of Subjectivity

Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega y Gasset's Philosophy of Subjectivity

Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega y Gasset's Philosophy of Subjectivity

Excerpt

This work is a critical study of José Ortega y Gasset's attempt to reconcile his notion of lived experience (life as radical reality), which is immediate experience, with his idea of life as vital-reason. Life as vital-reason is best understood as consisting of life as a rational-existential project. This in effect is Ortega's manner of fusing idealism and realism. This union results in the self-with-things or what amounts to I-in-the-world. In Ortega's thought, man is never what he is in his immediacy, and therefore he must create his essence through a self-conscious existential project.

This existential project is an attempt to reclaim the importance of an awareness of the immediacy that is individual human life as subjectivity. Thus, Ortega's notion of life as radical reality is the culmination of an underlying dialectic that is found throughout his work. But man's self-awareness of his life as both, a prereflective as well as an extranatural cosmic phenomenon, Ortega argues, is forcibly manifested through a confrontation with the material world.

This vital clash necessitates an inward glance where the self discovers its subjectivity. Therefore, I conclude this work by asserting that for Ortega, the synthesis of these apparently antithetical notions culminates in a form of subjective vitalism, given that primacy is necessarily attributed to the self over the external world. The focus of this work, then, concerns the fundamental tenet of Ortega's argument concerning the synthesis of realism and idealism; and rationalism and vitalism, as well as the inherent existential tension that exists in this endeavor. Given Ortega's notion that all thought must originate and therefore concern itself with life as phenomenon, his philosophy necessarily gives primacy to the self over the material world. [Yo soy yo y mis circumstancias] ([I am I and my circumstances]) stresses the nature of the rational vitalism that results from this self-awareness of life as a problem for reflection, which is forged from man's necessary . . .

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