Molina Garmendia, Enrique (1871–1962)

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Enrique Molina Garmendia, the Chilean spiritualist philosopher, was born at La Serena, Chile. After several years of practicing law and teaching on the faculty of the Liceo de Chillán, he became the first rector of the University of Concepción in 1919. He was one of the leading members of the generation of Latin American intellectuals who, under the influence of William James, Henri Bergson, and the French spiritualists, reacted against the positivism that had dominated the political and cultural life of Latin America for half a century.

Throughout the eleven books that he published between 1912 and 1952, Molina was basically concerned with philosophical anthropology and with offering "an interpretation of [the human spirit], acceptable even to the skeptics, formulating a consideration of the spiritual in human life where it is constructive and creative, and where it is involved with ethical exigencies" (De lo espiritual en la vida humana ). This concern raised the problem of the nature of consciousness and its relation to being, as well as the problem of the origin and status of values in the natural order.

Rejecting both idealistic and materialistic ontologies, Molina maintained the priority of being over consciousness, although he noted that the emergence of the latter within natural processes indicates the potentiality for consciousness within being. Following the German philosopher Edmund Husserl, Molina declared that being and consciousness are integrally united within experience. The priority of being "is affirmed, because it is first lived by consciousness as a totality of which consciousness forms a part" (De lo espiritual en la vida humana ). Molina restated René Descartes's basic premise as "I think, therefore I exist and Being exists." An adequate conception of being must incorporate both the subjective and the objective poles of experience.

It is in man that spirit has become most fully actualized. Closely associated with consciousness, spirit is the locus of values and is characterized by the freedom that makes activity leading toward the realization of value possible. The realm of the spirit embraces all the realms that are the result of human creativitymorality, religion, the sciences, the arts, "all the work of enlightened intelligence." Spirit is that element within each of these realms which aspires to be, which strives to perfect itself and to go beyond itself. Reason is the highest structure of spirit. Through reason, the presence of being is recognized, mere automatic functioning of the organism is overcome, and the horizons of consciousness are opened to the possibilities for creative advance.

See also Bergson, Henri; Descartes, René; Husserl, Edmund; James, William; Latin American Philosophy; Philosophical Anthropology.


works by molina

De lo espiritual en la vida humana (Concerning the spirit in human life). Concepción, 1936.

Confesión filosófica (Philosophical confession). Santiago: Nascimento, 1942.

Tragedia y realización del espíritu. Del sentido de la muerte y del sentido de la vida (Tragedy and realization of the spirit. The meaning of death and life). Santiago: Nascimento, 1952.

works on molina

Enríquez Frodden, Edgardo. Proyección del pensamiento y de la personalidad de Concepción Chile: Universidad de Concepción, 1972.

Lipp, Solomon. Three Chilean Thinkers. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1975.

Salvat Boloña, Pablo. Visión del hombre y visión de América según Enrique Molina G. Santiago, 1982.

Vidal Muñoz, Santiago. "Apuntes sobre la filosofía en Chile." Cursos y conferencias 48 (272) (1956): 3960.

Fred Gillette Sturm (1967)

Bibliography updated by Michael Farmer and

Vladimir Marchenkov (2005)

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Molina Garmendia, Enrique (1871–1962)

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