Main Currents of Spanish Thought

Category: Spain, Spanish
Last Updated: 26 Jan 2021
Pages: 4 Views: 72

Among the deep thinkers that contributed to the changes that had taken place in Spain during the last decade of the 1800s was Jose Ortega Gasset (883-1955). He is one of the most important Spanish thinkers whose writings examined the manifestations of culture revealing the intimate depths of individual and social human condition. Ortega’s contribution was in the area of education, as he believes that “if one does not educate for the city, a person cannot be brought to plenitude, and that the school tends to operate on preterit principles, when it should educate from the present for the future” (Palmer, Bresler, & Cooper, p. 244)

However, during the last decade of the 1800s in Spain, the Spanish society has been divided by a great debate that raged in 1890s up to early 1900s between the conservative traditional politicians who were asserting that Spain was a global power and had essential role to play in the world, and the so called liberal or perhaps the enlightened politicians who argued that the reality was that Spain during this time was a sinking ship.

According to an internet article entitled Spain, the eternal Maja: Goya, Majismo, and the Reinvention of the Spanish National Identity, the debate served as a wakeup call for many Spanish intellectuals to come up with a win-win solution not only to the debate but also to the real condition of the Spanish nation, which was already two decades behind powerful countries such as France, Germany, and England.

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Among these intellectuals was Miguel de Unamuno who emphasized that it is only by opening windows to European winds, saturating themselves with European ambience, having confidence that they will not lose their identity in so doing would make them catch up with the advancement made such nations (Internet article). Along with other intellectuals such as Jose Martinez Ruiz also known as Azurin and Granados, they were able to revolutionize the Spanish intellectual society.

Views of the Authors in their attempt to turn Spain into a Modern Nation

The famous writers and authors during the Enlightenment period in Spain such as Giner de los Rios, Angel Ganivet and Joaquin Costa were known as “the generation of 1898.  Their contribution started upon realizing their country’s weakening condition due to defeats in wars against the United States of America and the lost of treasured colonies such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Cuba.  During their respective periods they tried to revolutionize the intellectual society as well as to redeem the prominence their country once enjoyed.

Like Jose Ortega Gasset, Ginner Delos Rios also saw the importance of education to be able to transform itself and to cope up with fast industrializing European nations. Being highly educated, he was well versed in many branches of knowledge, Ginner Delos Rios’ viewed education as a very important instrument in regenerating the Spanish society; he believed that reforms were not established by laws but by teachers and professors. Delos Rios views held that teachers and educators were responsible in framing the new generations’ educational values and understanding. I believe that his views are timely and appropriate to the present condition of Spain.

Ganivet was no doubt a great writer and essayist. His views was reflective of the true condition of Spain, where in he calls Spain’s past as an error, a departure from its true nature. Ganivet believed that Spain must wake up from its present slump and fulfill its true mission to give birth to a great nation and culture. No doubt Ganivet’s view was really interesting; however, his poor interpersonal relationship seemed to have put his ideas on the shelves at least during his own time. Joaquin Costa (1844—1911) on the other hand   descended from a politicians family and was one of generation 1898. Costa’s view of the condition of Spain however, was that the country needs national regeneration. Costa depicts unbelief to the leadership of those in governments in running the affair of the state.

How did they see Spain, and how did each think Spain should be changed to become a modern country.

Each of these authors viewed Spain during this period as weakening and being slowly left behind by other European countries. Both Delos Rios and Ortega emphasized on the need of education for every individual, while Ganivet saw Spain as lacking regeneration. Perhaps what he meant was that the present generations were failure. The hope of the new of the Nation lies in the new generation.

What did these men give to the Spanish Society

These men in the first place were able to give the society brilliant ideas on how the society can rise up from where it was at present. They provided a new avenue by which the government can start a new in bringing back the country in line with other advanced nations in Europe. The most particular was the ideas of Miguel de Unamuno to open the country’e windows to other European countries and be satisfy with fresh wind of information and knowledge coming from those countries.   They also provided important educational guidelines that would help keep up standards of learning for every individual.

Berrio, J. R. Ftancisco delos Rios (1839-1915)

Palmer, J., Bresler, L., & Cooper, D.E. (2001) Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey. UK: Routledge


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Main Currents of Spanish Thought. (2017, Mar 14). Retrieved from

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