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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Vives had pronounced the same idea


Beginnings of public archives.]

[Sidenote: Luis Vives and Spanish originality in philosophical studies.]

The revival of classical studies, which made available the writings of many Greek philosophers whose works had been unknown to the medieval scholars, and the complex movement of ideas engendered by the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Reaction were the fundamental causes of the flourishing state of theological and philosophical studies in this period, especially in the sixteenth century. While this was by no means confined to Spain, the peninsula furnished its quota to the great names of the period. The philosopher Luis Vives (1492-1540) may be mentioned by way of illustration. Vives, who spent most of his life in Flanders and in England,--in which latter country he was the teacher of Mary Tudor, the later queen of England,--was regarded by contemporaries as a philosopher of the first rank, on a plane with Erasmus. Nearly a century before Francis Bacon (1561-1626) suggested the necessity for the observation of nature as the basis of knowledge rather than the blind following of classical texts, Vives had pronounced the same idea. Of importance, too, were his pedagogical doctrines, which profoundly influenced Comenius. The case of Vives was not unique, for the ideas which were later to be made famous by Reid, Descartes, Montaigne, Charron, and others had already been expressed by Spaniards of the sixteenth

century. The common note in all their works was that of great liberty of thought in all things other than the Catholic faith, and in particular that of a reaction against submission to consecrated authority, which brought them into opposition to the slavish acceptance of classical writings so much in vogue among the Humanists. In so doing, the Spanish philosophers were only expressing their national traits, for the Spaniards have always been able to reconcile their support of absolutism in government and of the principle of authority in religion with a degree of individualism that cannot be found in lands whose political and religious ideas have been more democratic. Partly on this account Spanish thought has not received due credit, for, though there were Spanish philosophers, there was no school of Spanish philosophy. Furthermore, sweeping originality of thought on a universal basis was precluded by the necessity of subordinating all ideas to Catholic doctrine, while the philosophers who have attained to the greatest fame in modern times expressed themselves with independence in that respect, or at least without the preoccupation of not departing from it. That Spaniards were capable of originality within the field of religion itself was proved by the development of Spanish mysticism, already alluded to.

[Sidenote: Important character of Spanish writings on jurisprudence, politics, and economics.]


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