Gasset: Background to the Philosophy of an Existentialist
Spain’s decline was the point of departure for the formation of Gasset’s philosophy. Gasset was bothered by the decline of his native country, Spain. He was therefore bent on finding solution to this problem, so that Spain could come back to its past glory. In his search for solution, he came to Europe where he came in contact with Neo-kantianism. Initially, he believed in its tenets, holding that what Spain lacked was a kind of culture of cosmopolitanism that could hold the Spanish people together instead of every man going his own way. His thought however evolved, where he held that only the Spanish people could save themselves. In this case, rather than thinking of humanity in the abstract sense of cosmopolitan humanity of Neo-kantianism, he focused on the concrete Spanish in Spain where he developed his philosophy called ratio-vitalism, which takes into consideration the concrete man in his environment. For him then, Neo-kantianism becomes a rationalism that does not pay sufficient attention to the concrete man and his environment. Then, culture, to Gasset, came to be understood as what is a creation for the service of humanity. It is then considered as the totality of ideas that will transform the human condition for the better. Specifically in relation to his Spanish society, it is the means of changing the society from its precarious position to the stage of genuine civilization or sustainable development.