Ortega y Gasset, José (hōsāˈ ôrtāˈgä ē gäsĕtˈ) [key], 1883–1955, Spanish essayist and philosopher. He studied in Germany and was influenced by neo-Kantian thought. He called his philosophy the metaphysics of vital reason, and he sought to establish the ultimate reality in which all else was rooted. In 1910 he became a professor of metaphysics at the Univ. of Madrid. In Meditaciones del Quijote (1914) and España invertebrada (1921) he compared Germanic and Mediterranean cultures. The Modern Theme (1923, tr. 1931) is one of his best philosophical books. Many of the essays in El Espectador (8 vol., 1916–34) first appeared in the Revista de Occidente, a review he founded (1923) and directed. But it was with The Revolt of the Masses (1929, tr. 1932) that Ortega gained international fame. He held that unless the masses can be directed by an intellectual minority, chaos will result. Although he supported the republic, he fled at the outbreak (1936) of the civil war, first to France and then to Argentina. After World War II he returned to Madrid, where he founded the Institute of Humanities. His other collections translated into English include Toward a Philosophy of History (1941), The Mission of the University (1944), Concord and Liberty (1946), The Dehumanization of Art (1948), Man and People (1957), and Man and Crisis (1958).
See biographies by H. Raley (1971) and F. Niedermayer (1973).