ISSN: 2067 – 9211 Miscellaneous
Freedom and Libertinism in Culture.
From José Ortega y Gasset to Eugenio Coseriu
Abstract: In my paper I aim at discussing the problem of freedom in culture, in general, and in language, in
special, by res orting to Ortega y Gasset and Coseriu’s philosophical i deas. Both thinkers state t hat genuine
freedom is opposed to barbarism or libertinism due to the fact that it is governed by a series of norms or rules
freely consented by society/community. The same is valid, in broad t erms, for language as well, only that, in
this case, the norms (placed at different levels) present certain particularities.
Keywords: J. Ortega y Gasset; E. Coseriu; culture; norms; freedom; libertinism
1. The way in which I understood this topic is mostly tributary to Eugenio Coseriu’s point of view.
When I say (as it appears in the title) “from José Ortega y Gasset to Eugenio Coseriu”, I mean treating
this topic from a chronological perspective: Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) had already dealt with it before
Coseriu (1921-2002). However, mention must be made that the Romanian scholar discovered Ortega’s
work fairly late (seemingly, soon after the Spanish philosopher’s death), that is after having shaped his
own conception on such a subject2. Consequently, Ortega y Gasset’s influence on Coseriu (where
present) is a confirmative, not a formative one. But I will refer in extenso to all these cases in a special
paper devoted to this issue.
2. First, we should explain the notion of culture and its relation with freedom. I will also resort to Coseriu
for this purpose. By combining Hegel’s perspective with Aristotle’s, Coseriu considers that the cultural
activity is, in its essence, enérgeia (‘pure activity’, in Aristotle’s terms), similar to Spirit (as theorized
by Hegel). Thus, culture is defined by Coseriu (in his conference Deontology of Culture) as follows:
“Culture is t he historical objectification of spirit into forms which last, into forms which become
traditions, historical forms which describe the world specific to humans, the human’s specific universe.
What do we mean by spirit, what is objectified in history as culture? It is the creative activity, it is
creativity itself, not something that creates, but creative activity as such, enérgeia, that specific activity
which is logically previous to any dynamism, to any acquired or experimented technique.” (Coşeriu,
1994, p. 173). And he continues with a very important remark: “The creative activity itself is a free
1 Associate Professor, PhD, “Danubius” University of Galati, Faculty of Communication and International Relations, Address :
3 Galati Boulevard, 800654 Galati, Romania, Tel.: +40.372.361.102, fax: +40.372.361.290, Corresponding author:
email@example.com. This paper was written, at the same time, as part of a postdoctoral program of advanced
research (in the field of philosophy; 2019-2021) organized by “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, Romania.
2 See Coseriu’s discourse on the occasion of being awarded the title of doctor honoris causa by the Univers ity of Madrid
(Coseriu, 1999, p. 41).