Anti-Dualism in History and Nature: A Study between John Dewey and José Ortega y Gasset

This paper argues that a principle manner in which Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset’s historicist maxim ’man has no nature, what he has is history’ can be understood is through a pragmatist basis of anti-dualism, in part inherited from American philosopher John Dewey. The thesis here is that it is not that man has no nature, per se, rather that history is his nature because the two are anti-dualistic concepts; history is our nature because it is comprised of, as famously posited by Ortega, “myself and my circumstance”. Hence, neither philosopher negates that “preparedness”, or “nature”, influences our being and behavior, rather they are arguing, more importantly, that “plasticity”, or nurture, plays a greater role given that this encompasses “nature” when we relate Ortega’s application of “history” to Dewey’s use of “experience”. Our “experiences” create our history, and interpretations as to the nature of them are not only potentially infinite, but they are primarily just that - interpretations, which can also change over time. Hence what we truly are is our history. Although these two philosophers are not frequently linked, there is a clear connection in this basic, Deweyen pragmatist anti-dualism as an elder of Ortega. And even though Dewey, unlike Ortega, wrote little on specifically the discipline of history, much of it was indeed fundamentally historical.
Keywords historicism  pragmatism  Ortega y Gasset, José  Spanish Philosophy  Dewey, John  nature  history
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DOI 10.1163/187226310X490043
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