Man as Radical Reality: The Dialectic of Lived Experience in the Philosophy of Jose Ortega y Gasset

Dissertation, Depaul University (1995)
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My dissertation is a critical study of Jose Ortega Y Gasset's attempt to reconcile his notion of lived-experience , which is fundamentally immediate experience, with his idea of life as vital-reason. But life as vital reason is, itself, best understood as consisting of life as a rational-existential project. This, in effect is Ortega's manner of fusing idealism and realism. The result of this mediation is to be interpreted as the self-with-things or what amounts to: I-in-the-world. Man is never what he is in his immediacy and therefore he must create his essence through a self-conscious existential project. Thus, Ortega's notion of life as radical reality is the culmination of an underlying dialectic that is present throughout his work. That is, man's self-awareness of his life as a pre-reflective extranatural phenomenon vis-a-vis the material world can only be understood through reflection and therefore never in its immediacy. Therefore I conclude that for Ortega the synthesis of these apparently antithetical notions culminates in a form of subjective idealism given that primacy is necessarily attributed to the self over the external world. Even though I accept the fundamental tenets of his argument concerning the synthesis of Realism and Idealism and Rationalism and Vitalism, I have focused upon the inherent tension that exists in any such reflective endeavor. I believe that due to Ortega's emphasis that all reflection must originate and therefore concern itself with life as phenomenon, his philosophy necessarily gives primacy to the self over the material world . In arguing "Yo Soy Yo Y Mis Circumstancias" Ortega stresses the character of the Rational Vitalism that results from my self-awareness of my life as a problem for reflection that is forged through my necessary dealings with the world. The result of this self-knowledge is the foundation of a metaphysics of life that is best understood as man as radical reality



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Pedro González
Barry University

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