What is Knowledge?

By Jose Ortega y Gasset
Edited and translated by Jorge García-Gómez

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9780791451724, 264 pages, October 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451717, 264 pages, November 2001

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Table of contents

Translator's Introduction
Jorge Garcia-Gomez

Spanish Editor's Note
Paulino Garagorri

I. Life as Performance (Performative Being)



December 19, 1929


The 1929-1930 Course


First Day
Second Day
Third Day
Sixth Day
Seventh Day
Eighth Day


II. Concerning Radical Reality

Second Lecture
Third Lecture
Fourth Lecture

III. What Is Life?

Third Lecture
Fifth Lecture
Sixth Lecture
Seventh Lecture
Eighth Lecture

IV. Glimpses of the History of Philosophy

Ninth Lecture
Tenth Lecture
Eleventh Lecture

Appendix: Ideas and Beliefs

1: Believing and Thinking


I. We Have Ideas, But We Find Ourselves Placed in Our Beliefs. To "Think About Things" and "To Count on Them. "
II. The Befuddlement of Our Times. We Believe in Reason, Not in Its Ideas. Science Almost Poetry.
III. Doubt and Belief. A "Sea of Doubts. " The Place of the Ideas.


2: Inner Worlds


I. The Philosopher's Ridiculousness. A Car's Breakdown and the Breakdown of History. "Ideas and Beliefs," All Over Again.
II. The Ingratitude of Human Beings and Naked Reality
III. Science as Poetry. A Triangle and Hamlet. The Treasury of Errors.
IV. The Articulation of the Inner Worlds.






Appearing in English for the first time, this book comprises two of Ortega's most important works, ¿Qué es conocimiento? and the essay "Ideas y creencias. " This is Ortega's attempt to systematically present the foundations of his metaphysics of human life and, on that basis, to provide a radical philosophical account of knowledge. In so doing, he criticizes idealism and overcomes it. Accordingly, this book goes well beyond a treatise on epistemology; in fact, as understood in modern philosophy, this discipline and its questions are shown to be derivative and, in that sense, they are transcended here by Ortega's systematic effort.

Written during the time of his maturity, these works are representative of his fruitful and radical period. Both ¿Qué es conocimiento? and "Ideas y creencias" are equally decisive not only for the understanding and radical completion of Ortega's work, but also for their relevance to the work of continental philosophers during the same period and for years to come (e. g., Husserl, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre, and others).

José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955), Spanish essayist and philosopher, remains one of the most famous Spanish philosophers of the last century. Jorge García-Gómez is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Long Island University and has translated several books, including Antonio Rodríguez Huéscar's José Ortega y Gasset's Metaphysical Innovation: A Critique and Overcoming of Idealism, also published by SUNY Press, and José Ortega y Gasset's Psychological Investigations.


"…a highly original, very readable book that carries the reader's interest from lecture to lecture in unanticipated ways. The lucid journey imaginatively rethinks many common philosophical starting points, habits of thought, and standard articulations regarding such questions as what it is to philosophize, how most accurately to describe human life and its realities, how to set up and describe the process of knowing, and what it is that we can count on in human life. " — Review of Metaphysics

"As to the intellectual significance of this new book by Ortega,it is destined to be one of the most important parts of his legacy. " -- from the Spanish editor's note by Paulino Garagorri