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Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2009 08:19 pm
Some of you may have seen my postings on various threads in which I refer to or even quote passages from the works of the Spanish philosopher , who lived from 1883 till 1955. I have been a student of his thought for over 50 years and I hope to make his thought better known through this Forum. It is in that spirit that I will here try to present his ideas in a more formal way.

The following passages are from a series of public lectures with the title "What is Philosophy?" that Ortega, as he is usually referred to, gave in 1929. In them, Ortega for the first time presents the idea of "My Life" or "Living" as the "Radical Reality" [emphases mine]:

"The radical fact of someone who sees and loves and hates and desires a world, and who moves within it, suffers for it, and in it exerts himself--this is what has always, in the humblest and most universal words has been called 'my life'. What is this? It is simply that the primordial reality, the fact of all facts, the datum for the Universe, that which is given to me is . . . 'my life'--not myself alone, not my hermetic conscious self; these things are interpretations, the idealist interpretations. 'My life' is given to me, and my life is primarily a finding of myself in the world: nor is there vagueness in this. I am in this very world, the world of now; here in this theater which is a part of my vital world, here in this instant, doing what I am doing in it. I am philosophizing."
"Living is the radical reality. Every other thing, every other manner of being, I find within my own life, both as a detail of it and with reference to it. In it is all the rest, and all the rest is what it is with regard to that life. The most abstruse mathematical equation, the most abstract and solemn philosophic concept, the very Universe, even God himself, are things that I find in my life, things that I live. And the radical and primary being of these things is, therefore, that of being lived by me, and I cannot define what they are in terms of being lived until I find out what 'living'is."
"Therefore the radical problem of philosophy is to define that way of being, that primary problem which we call 'my life'."
"We have found a new radical reality, therefore something radically different from what has been known and recognized in philosophy, therefore something for which the traditional concepts of reality and of being do not serve. If, notwithstanding this, we go on using them, it is because until this new reality was discovered, we had no concepts of which we could make use other than the old ones. In order to formulate a new concept we must have something which is completely novel. The result of this is that the find becomes, not only a new reality, but the beginning of a new idea of being, of a new science of being, of a new philosophy, and in the measure in which it influences life, of a whole new life, a vita nova."
"The new fact, the new radical reality, is 'our life', the life of everyone of us. Let anyone try to talk of another reality as being free from doubt, more primary than this, and you will see that such a thing is impossible. Even thinking is not anterior to living--because thinking is found to be a piece of my life, a particular act in that life. This seeking for an indubitable reality is something that I do because I live, and inasmuch as I live--that is to say, it is not isolated and done for its own sake. I seek reality because I am now busying myself with philosophy, and I do this as a first act in philosophizing. And philosophizing is, in turn, a particular form of living, which assumes this living--for if I work with philosophy it is because of what I feel as a desire of my life which is restless about itself, and perhaps finds itself lost in itself. In short, whatever reality we set up as primary, we find that it assumes our life to be a fact; the act of giving it place is in itself a vital act, is 'living'."
"But if it is thus, there is no remedy but to fix the attributes of that new radical reality, and no remedy but to accept them even though they may seem to give the lie to all our pre-existent theories and to all the other science we follow, while recognizing them as true at certain points. In a system of philosophy, we would, then, have to show how, taking the reality of our life as a point of departure, and without contradicting our concept of living at a single point, there are also organic bodies, moral and physical laws, even theology. But what I say does not include any statement that in addition to the indubitable life of ours--that life which is given to us--there may not perhaps exist the 'other life'. What is certain is that that 'other life' is, from the point of view of science, problematical, as are organic reality and physical reality--and that, on the other hand, this life of ours, this life of every one of us, is not problematical but indubitable."

[From What is Philosophy? by Jose Ortega y Gasset. Translated by Mildred Adams. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1960, pp. 201-203, 206, 229-231, with some slight rewording by longknowledge.]

Comments and questions welcome!
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 06:28 pm
So everything going on in my experiences constitutes "my life", and what I spend my time doing all the day every day is "living" whether it be writing questions for clarification of a philosophical discussion or going to pee. These are my best guesses, off hand, of what you are saying on Ortega's behalf and from his quoted lecture notes.

I can tell you that "living is the radical reality", echoing the precise words from your post, but I still don't grasp the significance of "radical reality" as a special phrase used by Ortega.

I'm really not willing to go beyond this until I confirm that I'm not impossibly off-course with my read.

Reply Sat 14 Nov, 2009 07:48 am
You got it!

To show you how Ortega arrived at the idea of "My Life as the Radical Reality" I'll quote from a Preface to a German edition of his works from 1935, which he never published due to what was happening in Germany at the time:

There was always a scandalous ambiguity in idealism because while it held consciousness to be the fundamental [radical] reality, it still had never managed to analyze completely and with the required precision just what consciousness was. [. . .] In the final years of the last century [I.e., the 19th Century] Husserl made the historic decision to endow idealism with what it lacked: rigor, neatness. In grand style he submitted the ledger of idealistic bookkeeping to a careful auditing and imposed a norm of exactness on it. The fruitfulness of this undertaking was immense [. . .]

For the first time, then, phenomenology stated with precision the nature of consciousness and its ingredients. [See Husserl's Logical Investigationspositing something. In view of this the philosopher searches for a brief against all subjective positings. This brief must consist of something that he does not posit, but which instead imposes itself on him, of something therefore that posits itself, something "positive" or "given."

Now then, Husserl thought he had found this primary reality, this positive or given, in pure consciousness. Pure consciousness is an "I" that is aware of everything else. But understand one thing: this "I" does not want, it is only aware of wanting and of what is wanted; it does not feel, but only sees its feeling and the values felt; in short, it does not think in the sense of believing what it thinks, but is reduced to noticing that it thinks and what it thinks. This "I" is, then, a pure and impassive mirror; it is contemplative and nothing more. What it contemplates is not reality, but only a spectacle. The true reality is the contemplation itself; that is, the "I" that contemplates only when contemplating, the act of contemplation itself, and the spectacle contemplated qua spectacle. Just as King Midas turned everything he touched to gold, so the absolute reality that is "pure consciousness" makes unreal all that is given to it and changes it into pure object, in pure aspect. Pure consciousness, "Bewusstsein von," makes a ghost of the world, transforms it into mere meaning. And since the consistency of meaning is exhausted when it is understood, this reduces reality to pure intelligibility.

This is clear enough, but now we must ask to what extent pure consciousness is really a positive value, a given, something "self-posited" that forces itself upon us. The answer leaves no room for doubt: this pure consciousness, this pure Erlebnis, has to be obtained by a manipulation, by what the philosopher called a "phenomenological reduction." And this is a serious matter, as serious as what happens to the physicist when he wants to see inside an atom: when the scientist observes the atom he enters it, intervenes and modifies it. Instead of finding a reality he manufactures it. So with the phenomenologist. What he really finds is "primary consciousness," "unreflective" and "ingenuous," wherein man believes what he thinks, wants things in fact, and feels his aching tooth without any possible "reduction" of pain other than aspirin or an extraction. [Ha, ha!] The essence of this "primary consciousness," then, is that nothing is only an object for it, but rather everything is reality. In it, being aware has no contemplative overtones, but is rather an encounter with things, with the world.

Now then, while an act of "primary consciousness" is taking place it is unaware of itself, it does not exist for itself. This means that this "primary consciousness" is not, in fact, consciousness. This concept is an incorrect name for what there is when I purely and simply live, that is, live without subsequent reflection. What exists then is myself and the things of various sorts around me-minerals, people, triangles, ideas; but there is not, in addition and together with this, any "consciousness." For there to be consciousness I must break off living my experience in the present and, turning back my attention, recall what has just previously happened to me. This memory is nothing more that the retention of what was there before, that is, a real man who happened really to be surrounded by real things. But all this is now a memory and nothing more. In other words, now I find myself in a new situation: now there is a man, the same as before, myself, involved with something that is as much a thing as those previously mentioned, but of a new kind, that is, a memory. This memory recalls a past reality. This past reality is not, of course, real now. The present reality is its recall and this is what we may properly term "consciousness." Because now there is "consciousness" in the world, just as before there are minerals, people, and triangles. Naturally, however, this new situation which consists in my encounter with the thing "consciousness," and which is memory or, more generally, "reflection," is not itself consciousness, but is instead just as ingenuous, primary, and unreflective as the first one. I continue to be a real man who discovers before him, and therefore in the world, the reality "consciousness."

Once I have this entity, so to speak, in hand, I am free to do all sorts of things: I can observe it, analyze it, describe its consistency. But there is one thing I cannot do: it preserves a previous reality, and I cannot now change the reality that has already been, correct it or "suspend" it. That reality as such is now irrevocable. The only thing that can happen is that, for this or that reason, I come to hold the opinion that the prior reality was a hallucination or some other class of mistake. But this, of course, in no wise undoes the prior reality, does not make it unreal or suspend it. How can we make something unreal that is no longer actual? How can we "suspend" the exercise of a reality that has already taken place, is no longer being performed, and of which there only remains the exercise of the memory that is was performed? That would be like suspending now, in the present, the beginning of the composition of the Edict of Nantes. The effect of this new opinion of mine is simply to really place me in a world where there are "mistaken" realities, that is, in a somewhat more complicated world that the previous one, but no less effective or real than it was. "Reflection"-I repeat-is just as ingenuous a real situation as the "primary" one and equally unreflective with respect to itself. How could this new situation ever claim for itself the ability to bestow a greater degree of reality on what it encounters-a "consciousness"-than on what was encountered in the primary situation: minerals, people, and triangles?

The supposed "reflexive consciousness," designed to find that the true and absolute reality is consciousness and pure experience, is, on the contrary, less basic that the "primary consciousness," and for two reasons: (1) because it implies the existence of primary consciousness as its own "object" and (2) because, ultimately, it too is an ingenuous and unreflecting "primary consciousness." Every attempt to dislodge ingenuousness from the universe is in vain. Because, in a word there truly is nothing other than sublime ingenuousness, that is to say, reality. Reality supports and is the world and man. In order for idealism to make sense an "act of consciousness" would have to be able to reflect on itself and not solely on another "act of consciousness."

The enormous advantage of phenomenology was to have worked out the question in such detail that it became possible to grasp the moment and place where idealism committed its crime of making reality disappear by transforming it into consciousness. It does indeed begin with an "act of primary and ingenuous consciousness." This is not of itself consciousness, however, but very reality, the toothache hurting, man in truth in the real world. The idealist presupposes reality, starts from it, but then from the vantage point of another reality he classifies the first as mere consciousness. But this is of course no more than an opinion about that unyielding reality, one that leaves it untouched and one which, by the same token, could it but be redirected against the situation of the opining idealist, would paradoxically destroy it. In fact the man convinced that what there is is pure ideality, "pure Erlebnis," is a real man who must deal with a world beyond himself, one made up, independently, of an enormous thing called "consciousness," or else of many smaller things called "noemas," "meanings," etc. And these are no more and no less things, inter-subjectivities, things to be dealt with, willingly or not, than the stones against which his body stumbles.

If the "consciousness" of which idealism spoke were really something, it would be precisely weltsetzend (that which posits the world), the immediate encounter with reality. This is why it is a self-contradictory concept, since for idealism consciousness means precisely the unreality of the world it posits and encounters.

By suspending the executant powers of "consciousness," its weltsetzung, the reality of its "content," phenomenology destroys its fundamental character. "Consciousness" is precisely what cannot be suspended; it is irrevocable. That is why it is reality and not consciousness.

The term "consciousness" ought to be discarded. It was meant to stand for the positive, the given, that which posited itself and was not put there by thought, but it has turned out to mean just the opposite: it is merely a hypothesis, a fortuitous explanation, a construct of our divine fantasy. What there truly and authentically is is not "consciousness" and in it "ideas" of things, but rather a man existing in a landscape of things, in a set of circumstances that also exists. Naturally, we cannot do without man's existence, for then things would disappear, but, equally, we need the existence of things, for without them man would disappear. But this unseparability of both elements is falsified if we interpret it unilaterally as things depending on man for their existence-that would be "consciousness." What there in fact is, what is given, is my coexistence with things, that absolute event-a self in its circumstances. The world and I, set before each other, without any chance of fusion or separation, are like the Cabiri and Dioscuri, like all those divine pairs who according to the Greeks and Romans were always born and always died together, and to whom they gave the lovely name of Dii consentes, the "unanimous gods."["Preface for Germans," in Phenomenology and Art (Norton, 1075), pp. 60-67]

Now what this passage reveals is not only how Ortega valued the contribution of Husserl, but also how he analyzed his concepts of "primary consciousness" and "pure consciousness," and indicates the former is not "consciousness" at all but rather what he goes on to call an act of "living" or "my life," which he called the "radical reality." This enabled him to go "beyond phenomenology" at the very moment when he first encountered it.

In addition, the last paragraph leads us to an understanding of what Ortega intends by his famous formula: "I am I and my circumstance [. . .]," which appears in his first book, Meditations on Quixote, written during the next year, 1913, and published in 1914. I will explain the meaning of that formula my next posting.
Reply Sat 14 Nov, 2009 06:29 pm
Thanks, Longknowledge. My goodness, I had trouble following through all those subtle various meanings of consciousness. As I'm not familiar with the intricacies of Husserl's phenomenology, I simply defined consciousness as that-which-experiences since I believe that our immediate experiences are the source of all our knowledge of our shared experiences of the world and our private experiences of the self.

Would you say that Ortega believed in the material basis of reality?

Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2009 12:04 am
Samm;103548 wrote:
Thanks, Longknowledge. My goodness, I had trouble following through all those subtle various meanings of consciousness. As I'm not familiar with the intricacies of Husserl's phenomenology, I simply defined consciousness as that-which-experiences since I believe that our immediate experiences are the source of all our knowledge of our shared experiences of the world and our private experiences of the self.

Would you say that Ortega believed in the material basis of reality?


First, thank you for your interest. Your comments and questions are most helpful.

Second, as Ortega says, he would prefer to abandon the concept of "consciousness" altogether. What you call "that-which-experiences" he would call the "I", "my self," the thinking, perceiving, feeling, deciding person who doesn't just "experience" but rather "lives" (see below).

Third, to answer your question, Ortega would say that "matter" is a concept that we use to interpret certain phenomena that occur to us in our lives.

I think the following will be helpful to you in understanding more of his concept of reality:

As I mentioned in the last post, Ortega's most famous dictum: "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia," ("I am I and my circumstance") appears in Ortega's first book, Meditaciones del Quijote ("Meditations on Quixote"), published in 1914, at the point in his career where he claims to have gone "beyond phenomenology."

How are we to understand this statement that is generally considered to be, even by Ortega himself, the condensation of his philosophy?
If we look at the Spanish version, we see that in the first half of the statement the word "yo" appears twice. This is a deliberate attempt to call attention to two differing but easily confused phenomena.

The first "yo" refers to what Ortega later called "My life," our life, the life of each individual person, which is, as I explained in the previous posting, what he called the basic, fundamental or "radical reality".

The second "yo" refers to the phenomenon "my self," me, the individual person that appears within "my life" along with another phenomenon that he calls "mi circunstancia," "my circumstance," which is anything other than "my self," including not only physical phenomena, but also mental, emotional, and what I would add, even though he doesn't mention it, spiritual phenomena.

Now instead of "am", which would be a literal translation of "soy", I will use "consists of," to indicate the relationship of the parts "my self" and "my circumstance" to the whole, "my life." [As I shall explain in a subsequent posting, Ortega states that instead of "essence" we should use "consistency."]

Finally, instead of "and," which is the literal translation of "y," I will use "in relationship with" to indicate the inter-relationship(s) between "my self" and "my circumstance," with the understanding that "my self" only exists "in relationship with" "my circumstance," but also "my circumstance" only exists "in relationship with""my self."[In an earlier essay, which prefigures his metaphysics, Ortega says: "Life is a change of substances; as such, living-with, coexisting, weaving oneself in a web of relations, leaning one on the other, mutually nourishing each other, carrying each other, potentiating each other." "," ("Adam in Paradise"), 1910, Obras completas. 1984 ed., I, 491.]

So a full deconstruction of the dictum "I am I and my circumstance" would be "My life consists of my self in relationship with my circumstance."

Now what is not usually mentioned, especially in discussions of Ortega's metaphysics, is that the statement "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia," is only the first half of a sentence that continues: " . . . y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo."

This is a second statement that is fairly straightforwardly translated as ". . . and if I do not save it I do not save my self," the "yo" here referring to the second "yo" ("my self") in the first statement, and the "ella" ("it"; "circunstancia" is feminine in Spanish) is understood to refer to "mi circunstancia" ("my circumstance") in the first statement. [In a subsequent posting, I will present an explanation of what Ortega means by the word "salvo" ("save").]

Since this part of the sentence indicates what ought to be the relationship between "my self" and "my circumstance," I also hope to demonstrate in another posting that it constitutes the basis for his Ethics.

Thus, the full sentence, "I am I and my circumstance, and if I don't save it I don't save myself," which is how it appears in his first book Meditations on Quixote, when completely deconstructed as "My life consists of my self in relation to my circumstance, and if I do not save my circumstance I do not save my self,"could be considered to be a condensed statement of Ortega's total "Philosophy."
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2009 09:59 am
This reminds me that experience is a universal phenomenon by which all realities of the universe are inter-related. The concept of location in the universe is established by the finite set of realities with which each finite conscious being is abal to interact. So I see Ortega talking about the person within the body, the body itself, and the extended set of other bodies with which that body is bonded by its experiences of them and their experiences of it. That is to say, our identity is not wrapped within our skin; it goes far beyond our bodies to our relationships with everything in our world (within the confines of our finite range of experience). And as you say, our experiences include thinking, feeling, perceiving, deciding, and I'll add desiring, imagining, remembering, etc.

I wonder what he means by "saving"? How is it that we are to save ourselves and our circumstances? And why?
Reply Sun 15 Nov, 2009 06:38 pm
Samm;103628 wrote:
This reminds me that experience is a universal phenomenon by which all realities of the universe are inter-related. The concept of location in the universe is established by the finite set of realities with which each finite conscious being is able to interact.

The reality is the interaction!

So I see Ortega talking about the person within the body, the body itself, and the extended set of other bodies with which that body is bonded by its experiences of them and their experiences of it. That is to say, our identity is not wrapped within our skin; it goes far beyond our bodies to our relationships with everything in our world (within the confines of our finite range of experience). And as you say, our experiences include thinking, feeling, perceiving, deciding, and I'll add desiring, imagining, remembering, etc.

Those additions are included as well.

I wonder what he means by "saving"? How is it that we are to save ourselves and our circumstances? And why?

What? And give away the ending? [Truth is, I haven't researched it fully yet! We'll get to it bye and bye.]

The next passage is from Man and People, a set of lectures Ortega gave, beginning in 1939, in Buenos Aires, Madrid, Munich and Hamburg, on the principles of a new sociology. They were in the process of being revised and prepared for publication at the time of Ortega's death in 1955. Here we have a contrast between the thought of Ortega and that of the "existentialists," with which it has been compared. In this translation, the Spanish word "radical" is translated directly as "radical," as in the first paragraph [Ortega's italics; my emphasis]:

"Let us set out, then, to discover, in unimpeachable and unmistakable form, facts of such a characteristic complexion that no other denomination than that of "social phenomena" in the strict sense will seem to us to fit them. There is only one way to accomplish this most rigorous and decisive operation of finding that a type of facts is a reality or phenomenon that is definitely and determinedly different beyond any possible doubt or error, and hence is irreducible to any other type of facts. We must go back to an order of Ultimate reality, to an order or area of reality which because it is radical (that is, of the root) admits of no other reality beneath it, or rather, on which all others must necessarily appear because it is the basic reality.

This radical reality, on the strict contemplation of which we must finally found and assure all our knowledge of anything, is our life, human life.

Whenever and wherever I speak of "human life," unless I make a special exception, you must avoid thinking of somebody else's life; each one of you should refer it to your own life and try to make that present to you. Human life as radical reality is only the life of each person, is only my life. In deference to idiom, I shall sometimes call it "our life," but you must always understand that by this expression I refer to the life of each individual and not to the life of other people nor to a supposed plural and common life. What we call "other people's lives"-the life of one's friend, of one's sweetheart-is something that appears in the scenario that is my life, the life of each, and hence supposes that life. The life of another, even of one nearest and dearest, is for me mere spectacle, like the tree or the cliff or the wandering cloud. I see it, but I am not it, that is, I do not live it. If the other has a toothache, his face, the shape taken by his contracted muscles, are patent to me, I see the spectacle of someone suffering pain, but his toothache does not pain me, and what I have of it in no way resembles what I have when my own teeth ache. Strictly, my neighbor's toothache is in the last analysis a supposition, hypothesis, or presumption of my own, it is a presumed pain. My pain, on the contrary, is unquestionable. Properly speaking, we can never be sure that the friend who presents himself us as suffering from [a] toothache is really suffering from [a] toothache. All that is patent to us of his pain is certain external signs, which are not pain but muscular contraction, wandering gaze, the hand to the cheek-that gesture which is so incongruous with what provokes it, for it looks exactly as if the toothache were a bird and we were putting our hand over it to keep it from flying away. Another's pain is not radical reality, but reality in a sense that is already secondary, derivative, and dubious. What we have of his pain with radical reality is only its aspect, its appearance, the spectacle of it, its signs. This is all of it that is actually patent and unquestionable to us. But the relation between a sign and the thing signified, between an appearance and that which appears in it or simulates it, between an aspect and the thing manifested or "aspected" in it, is always finally questionable and ambiguous. There are those who to gain some private end feign the of a toothache to perfection without suffering it. But we shall see that, on the contrary, our own individual life does not tolerate fictions, because when we feign something to ourselves we of course know that we are feigning. And so our intimate fiction never succeeds in fully establishing itself, for being at bottom aware that it is not genuine, we do not succeed in completely deceiving ourselves, we see through the fraud. This inexorable genuineness of our life, the life, I repeat, of each one of us, this genuineness that is evident, indubitable, unquestionable to itself, is my first reason for calling our life "radical reality."

But there is a second reason. Calling it "radical reality" does not mean that it is the only reality, nor even the highest, worthiest or most sublime, nor yet the supreme reality, but simply that it is the root of all other realities, in the sense that they-any of them-in order to be reality to us must in some way make themselves present, or at least announce themselves, within the shaken confines of our own life. Hence this radical reality-my life-is so little "egoistic," so far from "solipsistic," that in essence it is the open area, the waiting stage, on which any other reality may manifest itself and celebrate it Pentecost. God himself, to be God to us, must somehow or other proclaim his existence to us, and that is why he thunders on Sinai, lashes the money-changers in the temple court, and sails on the three-masted frigate of Golgotha.

It follows that no knowledge of anything is sufficient-that is, sufficiently profound or radical-if it does not begin by searching the sphere that is our life to discover and define where and how that thing makes its appearance it, looms, springs up, arises, in short exists in it. For this is the proper meaning of the word exist-a word that originally, I take it, had strong connotations of struggle and belligerence, for it designates the vital situation in which suddenly, as though spring from the ground, an enemy appears among us, shows himself or makes himself apparent energetically blocking our way, that is, resisting us and at the some time affirming himself, making himself firm, before us and against us. Existing includes resisting; so it includes that fact that anything that has existence will affirm itself if we try to suppress it, annihilate it, or consider it unreal. Hence, whatever has existence or arises before us is reality, since reality is everything that, like it or not, we have to reckon with, because, like it or not, it is there, it ex-ists, re-sists. A terminological wrongheadedness that verges on the intolerable has for the past few years seen fit to use the words "exist" and "existence" in an abstruse and unverifiable sense precisely the opposite of that which the age-old word bears and expresses in itself.

Today some writers [longknowledge: i.e., the existentialists] attempt to make the term designate man's mode of being. But man who is always "I"-that I that each of us is-is the only being that does not exist, but lives or is alive. Precisely all the other things that are not man, not "I," are the things that exist, because they appear, arise, spring up, resist me, assert themselves in the ambit that is my life. Be this said in passing and in all haste."

[From: Man and People. Translated by Willard R. Trask. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1957, pp. 38-41.]

Nexr: The "Consistency" of "My Life"

Reply Wed 18 Nov, 2009 10:21 am

I have decided to continue this thread as a series of threads under the Forum for Ortega y Gasset. So, with the Administrator's kind assistance, this thread has been moved from the Metaphysics Forum to the Twentieth Century Philosophers - Jose Ortega y Gasset Forum. I regret any confusion this may or may have caused.

In my last posting I said that the next posting would be: The "Consistency" of "My Life". I have decided to place it in a new thred with the title: "Consistency" vs. "Essence" in Ortega y Gasset, after a few passages on that topic.

Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 04:56 am
longknowledge;103690 wrote:
man who is always "I"-that I that each of us is-is the only being that does not exist, but lives or is alive. Precisely all the other things that are not man, not "I," are the things that exist, because they appear, arise, spring up, resist me, assert themselves in the ambit that is my life.

This is very close to the 'transcendental ego':
The Transcendental Ego (or its equivalent under various other formulations) refers to the self that must underlie all human thought and perception, even though nothing more can be said about it than the fact that it must be there. Source.

In that respect, somewhat similar to the 'atma' of the vedantists. The real self, it can never be an object of perception, for the reason that the eye cannot see itself. However Ortega is from a very different cultural background so the expression and development of the idea are completely different. Nevertheless some commonality I think.

This presentation of phenomenology surely is one of the sources for Merleau Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is it not? The idea of embodied consciousness has virtually become a school of thought in its own right. Finally it also has a number of integration points with Buddhism. Not least ther 'relatedness of object with act of perception' and also the immediacy of living fully in the present moment of existence.

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