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Is Ortega a philosopher for the 21st century?

Alejandro Martinez Carrasco gives a seminar room of the department de Philosophy

13 | 03 | 2023

Is Ortega a philosopher for the 21st century? This is the question to which Professor Alejandro Martínez Carrasco tried to answer last February 21, in a seminar room that he gave at department of Philosophy.

Martínez Carrasco described Ortega y Gasset as an intellectual who was very interested in dialoguing with his contemporaries, that "being at the height of the times" that meant facing and reflecting on his philosophical actuality. "To be alive in the 21st century means to be able to give a reason for our circumstances," he said. In this sense, he pointed out that the question we should ask ourselves is: "What are the challenges of the Philosophy and what could we learn from Ortega today?". For speaker, the most important issues of our century are those related to technique and historicity.

When Ortega reflects on what it means to be in the world, he reflects ultimately written request on technique: "Man is a novelist and engineer of himself". However, this engineering of himself is not explained by nature, since human projects are extra-natural, as Professor Martínez Carrasco reminded us. "Man needs technique to realize himself in an often adverse world. Thus, what gives meaning to technique according to Ortega are the desires that lie behind it. The contemporary problem is that human beings allow themselves to be dragged along by technology when there are no desires behind it," he said.

In this way, as the professor pointed out, "we realize that the problems of technology are closely related to our own problems: they reflect them, magnify them, enhance them". An example of this, as he pointed out, is the extension of the classic discussion on the concept of "truth", which is deformed by new phenomena such as fake news and algorithms that reinforce one's own opinion.

Martínez Carrasco explained the response proposed by Ortega: "Faced with the predominance of technique and emptiness, we have to recover interiority. We are creators of the world, and therefore we must have a rich inner world". In a certain sense, technique explains history," he pointed out, "a process of transformation of the world through which we move away from nature. To say that man is essentially technical goes together with the fact that man is necessarily historical. Ortega explains that, because of our historical dimension, we are heirs and innovators: heirs of a tradition and innovators through a process of sophistication of history.

The professor concluded this seminar room with a reflection on one of Ortega's most important traits: "He was always attentive to understanding reality as it is, in the face of ways that do not allow it to be captured as it is".