“I am myself and my circumstances...”
If you know nothing else about José Ortega y Gasset, remember that phrase, his most famous, written in 1914. The Spanish philosopher died in Madrid on October 18, 1955, at age 72. He was active in the Second Republic and went into self-exile at the outbreak of the Civil War, although after 1945 he returned frequently to Spain.
For him, “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” expressed the constant conflict between every person and the time and place where he or she is born: the drama or tragedy between necessity and freedom, of living with a reality that “forms the other half of myself.”
For him, freedom meant “being free inside of a given fate,” with a necessity to act. “I am myself and my circumstances, and if I do not rescue my circumstances, I do not rescue myself,” he wrote. “Life is what we do and what happens to us.”
Within fate, we can choose our destiny and create “a project of life.”
Some may find their philosophy of life in religion, existentialism, or nihilism. He created a philosophy based on pragmatism.
“Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.”
What are you going to do?
— Sue Burke