Gaos, José (1900–1969)

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Gaos, José (1900–1969)

José Gaos (b. 26 December 1900; d. 10 June 1969), Spanish-Mexican philosopher. Gaos was born in Gijón, Spain. He lived in Oviedo with his maternal grandparents until he was fifteen, then moved to Valencia where his parents were residing. While reading the philosophy of James Balmes, Gaos discovered the topic that became the focus of his later thought: the radical historicity of philosophy (i.e., the extent to which any philosophy is grounded in the thinker's historical circumstances). Gaos began to study philosophy at the University of Valencia, then transferred to the University of Madrid in 1921, where he studied with Manuel García Morente, Xavier Zubiri, and, most important, José Ortega y Gasset. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1923 and his doctorate in 1928, both from the University of Madrid.

A firm supporter of the Republican cause, Gaos was named rector of the University of Madrid in 1936. Shortly thereafter, he fled the regime of Francisco Franco, living briefly in Cuba before arriving in Mexico in 1938. He declared himself a transterrado (transplant) rather than an exile, and spent the rest of his career encouraging research on the history of ideas in Latin America. His teaching at the Colegio de México and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México decisively influenced a generation of major Mexican thinkers, including Leopoldo Zea. His philosophical work, a unique blend of metaphysics and historicism, was published in Mexico between 1940 and 1972. Gaos died in Mexico City.

See alsoLatin America; Literature: Spanish America.


For Gaos's works, see José Gaos, Obras completas, VI: Pensamiento de la lengua española, prologue by José Luis Abellán, edited by Fernando Salmerón (1990); Obras completas, VII: Filosofía de la historia e historia de la filosofía, prologue by Raúl Cardiel Reyes, edited by Fernando Salmerón (1987); Obras completas, XII: De la filosofía, prologue by Luis Villoro, edited by Fernando Salmerón (1982); and Obras completas, XVII: Confesiones profesionales, prologue by Vera Yamuni, edited by Fernando Salmerón (1982). For discussion of his life and thought, see Vera Yamuni Tabush, José Gaos: El hombre y su pensamiento (1980), and José Gaos: Su filosofía (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Salmerón, Fernando. Escritos sobre José Gaos. México: Colegio de México, 2000.

Zea, Leopoldo. José Gaos: El transterrado. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Centro Coordinador y Difusor de Estudios Latinoamericanos, 2004.

                                        Amy A. Oliver