José Ortega y Gasset

Ortega y Gasset

Spanish Liberal Philosopher and Essayist

Author Quotes

Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness.

What makes a nation great is not primarily its great men, but the stature of its innumerable mediocre ones.

To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man... If anyone in a discussion with us is not concerned with adjusting himself to truth, if he has no wish to find the truth, he is intellectually a barbarian. That, in fact, is the position of the mass-man when he speaks, lectures or writes... The man who discovers a new scientific truth has previously had to smash to atoms almost everything he had learnt, and arrives at the new truth with hands bloodstained from the slaughter of a thousand platitudes.

We have need of history in its entirety, not to fall back into it, but to see if we can escape from it.

Thinking is the endeavor to capture reality by means of ideas.

The body is a thing, the soul is also a thing; man is not a thing, but a drama - his life. Man has to live with the body and soul which have fallen to him by chance. And the first thing he has to do is decide what he is going to do.

The only thing which is not purely mechanical about falling in love is its beginning. Although all those who fall in love do so in the same way, not all fall in love for the same reason. There is no single quality which is universally loved.

Since love is the most delicate and total act of the soul, it will reflect the state and nature of the soul. If the individual is not sensitive, how can his love be sentient? If he is not profound, how can his love be deep? As one is, so is his love.

Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.

One age cannot be completely understood if all the others are not understood. The song of history can only be sung as a whole.

Man adapts himself to everything, to the best and the worst. To one thing only does he not adapt himself: to being not clear in his own mind what he believes about things.

Nine-tenths of that which is attributed to sexuality is the works of our magnificent ability to imagine, which is no longer an instinct, but exactly the opposite: a creation.

It is not obligatory for a generation to have great men.

In order that a man may stop believing in some things, there must be germinating in him a confused faith in others. It is curious to note that almost always the dimension of life in which the new faith begins to establish itself is art.

Civilization is nothing else but the attempt to reduce force to being the last resort.

Your soul is the closest to you, but it is not you yourself.

By speaking, by thinking, we undertake to clarify things, and that forces us to exacerbate them, dislocate them, schematize them. Every concept is in itself an exaggeration.

We must learn to free ourselves from the traditional idea which would have reality always consist in some thing, be it physical or mental.

This unity of dramatic dynamism between two elements, the I and the world - is life.

We must get over the error which makes us think that a man’s life takes place inside himself.

Our life is at all times and before all else the consciousness of what we can do.

Outrage is an outpouring of a feeling of inferiority.

Nothing so saps the profound resources of a life as finding life too easy.

Life is an operation which is done in a forward direction. One lives toward the future, because to live consists inexorably in doing, in each individual life making itself.

Life is our reaction to the basic insecurity which constitutes its substance.

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Spanish Liberal Philosopher and Essayist