Deustua, Alejandro O. (1849–1945)

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Alejandro O. Deustua, the Peruvian educator, aesthetician, and philosopher, was born in Huancayo. He was a professor at the University of San Marcos, rector of the University, and director of the National Library in Lima. Deustua contributed greatly to the development of Peruvian education at all levels. His philosophical writing was done at an advanced age. It reflected the influence of K. C. F. Krause and Henri Bergson.

Running through the thought of Deustua are the polar ideas of liberty and order. Their interplay extends to a philosophy of civilization, but it is most clear in his major interest, aesthetics. It may be introduced through his definitions of beauty and art. Beauty is "a conciliation of liberty and nature, through the mediation of an ideal order created by the imagination." Since an internal image is not sufficient, external forms are created by art, which is the "graceful expression of the conciliation between nature and liberty, a conciliation imagined by the artist and translated by means of adequate or expressive forms."

The element of nature is furnished by human sensibility, including sensation and emotion. Liberty is found in absence of resistance, which in turn allows development from within to take place. It belongs to spirit and is paramount in that function of spirit called imagination, which is defined not as imaginal but as creative. Liberty is manifest only in an order, and it is fully realized only in an order entirely of its own making, an artistic order or harmony. This order is created by the imagination, using sensuous elements and acting in close relation with emotion. Harmony is a unity in variety: aesthetic pleasure is opposed to monotony and to excessive complexity. Types of harmony are symmetry and rhythm. Related to these are an outward order of parts and whole in space, characteristic of classical art, and an inward order of causes or purposes in time, characteristic of romantic art. When liberty is realized in order, the result is grace.

In addition to beauty there are several other types of value, to all of which imagination can contribute in one degree or another. These values may in turn contribute to the aesthetic experience, but they fall below beauty in freedom. Logical truth is characterized by demonstrative necessity. Economic value is subject to the imperative of desire, in contrast to the disinterestedness of aesthetic experience. Although moral value presupposes a free agent, it requires that the will submit to duty and law. Religious revelation and myth are aesthetic in nature; but they demand submission to the divine will. Only in the aesthetic sphere is liberty sovereign, unbound by orders or norms external to it. For this reason, aesthetic value is "the value of values."

See also Aesthetics, History of; Beauty; Bergson, Henri; Imagination; Krause, Karl Christian Friedrich; Latin American Philosophy; Liberty.


works by deustua

"Las ideas de orden y libertad en la historia del pensamiento humano" (The ideas of order and liberty in the history of human thought). Revista universitaria (Lima), 19171922.

Estética general (General aesthetics). Lima: E. Ravago, 1923.

Estética aplicada. Lo bello en el arte: escultura, pintura, música (Applied aesthetics: the beautiful in art: sculpture, painting, music). Lima: Americana, 1935.

works on deustua

Salazar Bondy, Augusto. La filosofía en el Perú and Philosophy in Peru. Washington, DC, 1954. This is a single book, in both Spanish and English, published by the Pan American Union. The Spanish text is on pp. 3540 and the English on pp. 7782.

Arthur Berndtson (1967)