The Best Quotes by José Ortega y Gasset

The Best Quotes by José Ortega y Gasset

Last update: 13 June, 2018

woman and birds

His thoughts have had a huge influence on multiple generations of intellectuals. And he wasn’t just an amazing educator, he also went into a lot of different fields of knowledge, like philosophy, psychology, art, and literature. People consider his style to be elegant and original, especially his philosophical writing. Two good examples of this are his works, The Theme of our Time (1923) and The Revolt of the Masses (1929). To get to know a little more about him, we’re going to look at some of his quotes.

The path towards yourself

This is one of Ortega y Gasset’s most valuable quotes. Your destination isn’t a place, or a job, or a moment. It’s not the path to your dreams, it’s more like a meeting with yourself. It’s the exact spot where you’ll find your true essence.

Sometimes we forget that the most important things aren’t outside us. No, they’re actually inside each and every one of us. What’s the point of getting what you wanted, having the life you “dreamed of,” if you can’t share it with yourself… There are probably times when you put energy into order and prioritize your external goals, thinking you’ll have time to learn about yourself later. But you’re putting off the most important thing: reaching yourself.

The value of mistakes

A mistake is like a bridge to a lesson. It’s a chance to improve something that went badly. It’s a treasure, like Ortega y Gasset says, full of wisdom.

And it’s through your mistakes that you can achieve growth and change. You just have to learn to see that. Mistakes are human, we all make them, and they’re almost impossible to avoid. In fact, no one can control them because no one is perfect. But what you can control is our attitude when you confront them.

Mistakes are wonderful teachers. You just have to give that kind of attitude a chance. They tell you which path to drop or which strategy to improve. There’s a million things you can work out through mistakes, because they all have a challenge buried inside.


Reality as a construct

This is an Ortega y Gasset quote to remember when you’re talking to other people. Every person creates a world, theirs. And everything that happens around them goes through that filter. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, and it’s why we have such a hard time getting along sometimes.

The nice, enriching thing about our relationships is  all the different shades you can find in each perspective, each point of view around you. That’s the magic, the mystery of it. It’s a reality that multiplies and changes based on who’s looking.

Planning and putting your thoughts in perspective to move forward

Ortega y Gasset had it right: moving forward means thinking big and believing anything is possible. If you fence in your own thoughts, your dreams will get much smaller.

When it comes to projects, goals, and objectives, the word “impossible” should be at the very bottom of your vocabulary. Because if you limit your field of vision, it’s no surprise you don’t achieve what you want to. There’s a whole world of possibilities out there, you just have to find a way. That’s the challenge.


Teach doubt

This is another Ortega y Gasset quote that’s worth keeping in mind, especially in an educational environment. If you want to shape independent adults who can make their own decisions, teaching doubt is a must. 

Pushing one specific idea means cutting down the vast, endless fields of knowledge…But teaching people to question–not just other people, but themselves too–is the key to knowledge. It’s the door to the richness of multiple perspectives, and it’s fundamental when it comes to coming up with liberating ideas.

The importance of responsibility

Taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions is emotional maturity. Knowing that a decision will entail other things outside of that choice is fundamental. And things usually last much longer than the moment they happen. Knowing what to do with the trail they leave behind helps you move forward, get organized, and not get lost.

People who don’t take responsibility lead unstable, guilty lives where they see themselves as a victim. They don’t know what steps to take or which ones they’ve already taken. They don’t realize that when they get what they desire, it’s also important to know what to do afterwards.

man thinking

Being humble in your knowledge

This might be one of Ortega y Gasset’s most complicated quotes, because it takes having a lot of humility to accept that, but it’s also one of his wisest. It’s fundamental to recognize  your limitations and accept that what you know is like a drop of water in a vast ocean.

How much do we really know? Anyone who thinks they know everything won’t make it far because their pride will slow them down. But someone who humbly accepts their ignorance is taking one more step towards discovering everything around them. Ortega y Gasset’s quotes are a call for self-reflection and questioning things. They’re words to remember if you want to make your thoughts easier to bend.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.