Major Spanish Philosophers

Spain is often accused of having produced only mediocre thinkers, unlike its painters. This article lists the great philosophers, tending to show, on the contrary, that the country has seen the emergence of important thinkers whose influence on the Western thought is decisive.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864 – 1936)

Poet and philosopher, Unamuno is not a systemic thinker, he refuses the whole of philosophical systems (in a gesture recalling that of Kierkegaard). His thought is marked by rationalism and positivism. The political situation of Spain of his time made him take an interest in the mechanics of history. According to him, history can be analysed only with regard to individual and anonymous stories, and not through major events or the events of great men (see Hegel’s story). What he calls “intrahistoria”. At the end of the nineteenth century, Unamuno left positivism to develop a Christian existentialism, close to Pascal’s thought. According to him, life is consubstantially tragic because the man knows that he must die, then reducing man to a condition of a survivor. In The Tragic Sense of Life, he thus approaches the relation of faith and reason.

José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)

Gasset is undoubtedly the most influential of the Spanish thinkers. As a philosopher, socialist theorist, essayist, cultural and aesthetic critic, politician and editor-in-chief of the magazine Revista de Occidente, his speech was very broad. His main works are Meditations on Quixotte (1914), Invertebré Espagne (1921), The Spirit of our Time (1923), Thoughts on the Novel (1924), The Dehumanization of Art (1925) That philosophy? (1929), The Revolt of the Masses (1930), Man and People (1939-40), The Origin of Philosophy (1943), The Idea of Principle in Leibniz (1948). Gasset radiated to the confines of phenomenology, historicism and existentialism.

Julian Marias Aguilera (1914 – 2005)

A disciple of Gasset, Julian Marias has produced a gigantic History of Philosophy, which is undoubtedly one of the best introductions to western philosophy of the twentieth century (including that of Bertrand Russell). His 14 essays have allowed him to develop a vision of philosophy as dramatic theory, in other words, according to him the main problem of the philosopher is philosophy itself.

Maria Zambrano (1904 – 1991)

Both a poet and a philosopher, Maria Zambrano is a figure of the Mouvement des 36 (a group of intellectuals who fought against the dictatorship in 1936). Having spent half his life in exile, Zambrano worked on politics and history, starting from the advances of Heideggerian phenomenology, notably the resumption of the concept of Da-Sein.

Gomez Pereira (1500 – 1567)

A scholastic and humanist philosopher, historians of philosophy attributed to him the paternity of the famous cogito, before Descartes formulated it in his Discourse on the Method. Be that as it may, Pereira is one of the fathers of modern rationalism, and his works in mechanics and medicine have left an imprint on humanism.

His major work is Antoniana Margarita



Baltasar Gracian (1601 – 1658)

Jesuit, his Criticon (in 3 volumes) depicts Critilo, the critical man incarnating disillusionment, and Andrenio, the natural man representing innocence and primitive instincts. Each scene is seen from the points of view of the two characters. This philosophical novel reveals a pessimistic thought, of which Arthur Schopenhauer, as well as Nietzsche, will salute as a founding thought.



Other readings:

Cite this article as: Tim, "Major Spanish Philosophers, March 28, 2017, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, March 28, 2017,