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Marías, Julián (1914–)


Julián Marías is the best-known and most productive of the postCivil War philosophers in Spain who have sought to reconcile the doctrines of their teacher, José Ortega y Gasset, with traditional theism. Born in Valladolid in 1914, Marías studied under Ortega in Madrid just before the Civil War. When Ortega returned from exile in 1948, they jointly founded the Institute of Humanities in Madrid. Marías has taught at the institute and, as visiting professor, at various American universities. The bulk of his published work concerns the history of philosophy, mainly Spanish and scholastic philosophy. His general Historia de la filosofía (1941), which he wrote at the age of twenty-six, emphasizes the Aristotelian and scholastic traditions and gives a prominent position to Spanish thought. In La escuela de Madrid (The Madrid school; Buenos Aires, 1959), Marías presented the most comprehensive study available of such contemporary Spanish thinkers as Ortega, Miguel de Unamuno, Xavier Zubiri, and Manuel García Morente.

As a Catholic disciple of Ortega, who was explicitly irreligious and anti-Catholic, Marías gave a theistic interpretation of Ortega's "ratiovitalism" (a reconciliation of rationalism and the vitalist doctrines of the 1920s). In his major work, Introducción a la filosofía (1947), Marías argued that certain intellectual and spiritual "ultimates" are true biological needs of humankind. To be lived at all humanly, life requires, in addition to food and other animal necessities, "the possession of a radical and decisive certitude." That certitude serves as the foundation for numerous "partial truths." It harmonizes all our beliefs into a single clear perspective, and it also provides society with a ruling view that is needed for social stability. Men turn to philosophy for this certitude, so there is nothing more "practical," vital, or socially relevant than metaphysics, which is called upon to give men a standard to live by.

Marías accepts all the pragmatist, relativist, and historicist implications of vitalism, which usually have been regarded as destructive of religious convictions, and he argues from them back to the traditional religious outlook. Truth is what answers a vital need by removing the feeling of insecurity and perplexity. It is always relative to particular life situations and historical periods. Truth fragments into a multitude of relative truths, which contain concrete concepts as distinct from general concepts, which are obtained only by an arbitrary and schematizing process of abstraction. Yet, if the quest for completely satisfying, radical certainty is pressed tenaciously enough, it will lead beyond this complete nominalism to God, who appears as the ground or basis of being. Although the ego that carries on that quest was, for Ortega, the incarnation of "vital reason," for Marías it is the person who owns both vitality and reason. At death, that person, or soul, loses vitality and psychic activity but does not necessarily cease to exist. The mortality of the soul is a theory that remains in need of proof.

See also Ortega y Gasset, José; Rationalism; Unamuno y Jugo, Miguel de; Vitalism.


Works by Marías are Obras (Works), 10 vols. (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 19591982), Historia de la filosofía (Madrid, 1941); and Introdución a la filosofía (Madrid, 1947), translated by Kenneth Reid and Edward Sarmiento as Reason and Life (New Haven, CT, 1956).

On Marías, see Alain Guy, "Julián Marías," in Philosophes espagnols d'hier et d'aujourd'hui (Toulouse, 1956), pp. 330339.

other recommended works by marÍas

Meditaciones sobre la sociedad española. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1966.

Miguel de Unamuno. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966.

History of Philosophy. New York: Dover, 1967.

Nuevos ensayos de filosofía. Madrid: Ediciones de la Revista de Occidente, 1968.

Obras. Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 19691982.

Generations: A Historical Method. University: University of Alabama Press, 1970.

José Ortega y Gasset, Circumstance and Vocation. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

Metaphysical Anthropology; the Empirical Structure of Human Life. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971.

Philosophy as Dramatic Theory. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971.

La justicia social y otras justicias. Madrid: Seminarios y Ediciones, 1974.

A Biography of Philosophy. University: University of Alabama Press, 1984.

The Structure of Society. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1987.

Understanding Spain. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; San Juan: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1990.

La felicidad humana. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1995.

The Christian Perspective. Houston, TX: Halcyon Press, 2000.

Ortega y Gasset, José. Meditations on Quixote. Introduction and notes by Julián Marías, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000, 1961.

Neil McInnes (1967)

Bibliography updated by Michael J. Farmer (2005)

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