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Spain, philosophy in

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N053-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

Historians have argued about precisely when to date the commencement of Spanish history proper, rendering dubious any reference to Spain as such in the period prior to the official constitution of nationality. If this is the case, one can not really speak of philosophy in Spain before 1474, although it remains a fact that philosophy had been practised on the Iberian Peninsula from the earliest times. During the period of the Roman Empire, distinguished philosophical figures included Lucius Annqeus Seneca; under Visigothic rule, Saint Isidore of Seville came to the fore; and the Islamic Empire featured some of the most eminent philosophers of the Arabic and Judaic traditions, such as Ibn Hazm, Averroes, Ibn Gabirol, Yehuda Ha-Levi and Maimonides. There is no doubt that the centre of philosophical activity within the peninsula during the Middle Ages was the so-called School of Translators of Toledo, where numerous thinkers from many countries gathered. Together with Spanish scholars such as Domingo Gundisalvo and Juan Hispano, they collaborated in making Greek philosophy available to the countries of Europe; instrumental in this process were Gerard of Cremona, Daniel of Morlay, Alexander Neckham and Michael Scot.

After Spanish nationality was constituted under the Catholic Monarchs (1474–1516) on the basis of a single, unified faith, philosophy was destined to become closely linked with religion. During the sixteenth century, this gave rise to a burgeoning of philosophy of the very highest order, which followed two separate paths: that of the Erasmian-style Renaissance, featuring Luis Vives, which developed in line with the vanguard of the European Renaissance; and that of Spanish Scholasticism, which was fuelled by the thrust of the Counter-Reformation on the one hand, and by the discovery of America on the other. After the reigns of Charles I and Philip II (the chief protagonists in the creation of the empire ‘in which the sun never set’), the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed a relentless decline which, towards the beginning of the twentieth, seemed to come to an end. The Generation of 1898, with its revolutionary secular theories, provided the catalyst for a philosophical recovery whose greatest protagonists were Miguel de Unamuno, José Ortega y Gasset and Xavier Zubir. These thinkers were succeeded by the philosophers who went into exile after the Civil War of 1936–9: José Ferrater Mora, José Gaos, María Zambrano, Joaquín Xirau, and Juan David García Bacca.

Citing this article:
Abellán, José Luis. Spain, philosophy in, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N053-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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