Miguel de Unamuno and Spanish existential philosophy at the beginning of the XXth century

Miguel de Unamuno was one of the most famous Spanish writers of the 20th century. He was also known for his achievements as an essayist, professor of Greek and Classics, and later rector at the University of Salamanca. Existentialism (literally the philosophy of existence) is one of the largest philosophical movements of the 20th century. The period of formation of the philosophy of existentialism spans a period approximately from the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century. It is known that Unamuno relied heavily on the philosophy of existentialism when writing his works. For Miguel de Unamuno, the subject of study is not an abstract person, but a “person of flesh and blood,” who is born, sleeps, thinks, loves, eats, drinks, and ultimately dies. Man seeks to live without dying, and this is indistinguishable from any substance. His life is determined by a number of principles:


1) the principle of unity and continuity of existence


2) the principle of human continuity in time


According to Unamuno, the foundation of individuality is memory: the desire for memories to last and turn into hope, and the psychological past - to turn into the future. To demand from a person that he became different is tantamount to the demand to destroy himself, and every person changes only within the limits of the unity and continuity of his spiritual life.


Unamuno accepts the postulate of I. Kant: a person is an end, not a means:


“Every civilisation is guided by every person, by every I. Otherwise, what kind of idol is this, shall we call it humanity or something else, to which everyone and every person should be sacrificed? Why should I sacrifice myself for the sake of my neighbours, compatriots, for the sake of my children, and then my children - sacrifice myself for the sake of my children and so on in an endless chain of successive generations? And who, finally, will reap the fruits of all these sacrifices?


The very same people who tell us about this fantastic self-sacrifice, about this dedication without an address, are also in the habit of preaching the so-called right to life. And what is the right to life?


They tell me that I came to this world for the realisation of some social goal, but I somehow feel that I, just like each of my brothers, came to fulfil myself, to live my life.”


You can read the rest of this article in our September issue