Works by Félix Varela

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ISBN paperback: 9788490078839

The educational philosophy of Félix Varela in the context of Cuba at the end of the 18th century and first half of the 19th century is of an analytical-explanatory type, the result of Enlightenment thought, expressed in three of his most representative works: Instituciones de filosofía ecléctica (Institutions of Eclectic Philosophy), Lecciones de filosofía (Lessons in Philosophy).
Through them, Varela had an important influence on intellectual, political and religious life in Cuba in the first half of the 19th century. The conception of the common good constitutes one of the main philosophical foundations of his ethical thinking, among which are dignity, well-being, justice and social commitment. Varela is considered one of the forgers of the Cuban nation, through ethical, philosophical and pedagogical postulates, based on theological-liberal and patriotic foundations, which explain the way in which religious beliefs, moral values, ideas of freedom and equality and a liberating national project are related in him.
In 1812, Varela published the first two volumes of his Instituciones philosophiae eclecticae(Institutions of Eclectic Philosophy) in Latin, while the 3rd and 4th volumes were published in Spanish. It would be followed by his Lessons in Philosophy, 1818, his Philosophical Miscellany also in 1818, and his Letters to Elpidius between 1835 and 1838. (Also published by Linkgua Ediciones).
This volume of the Obras de Félix Varela, consists of the following parts:

  • Part one. Eclectic Philosophy
  • Second part. Thoughts of Félix Varela (1816-1819)
  • Third part. Lessons in Philosophy and other philosophical writings.
  • Part four. Philosophical Miscellany (1819)

Part One

First stage of Felix Valera’s thinking




Proposition I. Eclectic philosophy is the best of all.

DEMONSTRATION. The best Philosophy is that which helps us most to avoid errors and to discover the truth; but this is the eclectic Philosophy; therefore the eclectic Philosophy is the best of all. Proof of the minor: Eclectic Philosophy eliminates all affection, all hatred, and all partisan inclination; this is the very principal cause of errors, then, etc.

Objection I. Eclectic philosophy does not follow any master; this is a probable procedure of error; therefore with eclectic philosophy we can easily err, and therefore it is not the best.

Response. I distinguish the major: I concede that we do not follow any master, in the fact that we do not bind ourselves indissolubly to his doctrine; I deny that this means that we proceed without rule and that we reject all teachings. What eclectic philosophy intends is to take from everyone what reason and experience advise as a norm, without stubbornly adhering to any one of them.

Objection II. Eclectic philosophy follows different doctrines; this produces deformity; therefore, eclectic philosophy is deformed, very similar to that monster that Horace describes in the epistle to the Pisones.

Response. I deny that it follows diverse and opposing opinions; I concede that it follows diverse opinions, but concordant with each other. Those who think that eclectic philosophers admit dissenting theories are very mistaken. The so exalted freedom of philosophizing can never consist in this error, but in freeing ourselves from the servitude of any master and in seeking exclusively the truth wherever it may be found.

Objection III. Eclectic philosophy lacks those doctrines indispensable for understanding the Catholic doctors who gave their name to the peripatetic school; thus it is not the most useful of all; therefore it is not the best either.

Response. I deny that they cannot be understood in regard to sacred doctrines; I concede that they cannot be understood in their useless scholastic controversies.

There are too many people who try to use this argument, as if it were a dreadful ghost, to scare young people away from the most advisable studies. How unjustly they proceed can be seen from the fact that it is not possible to base the most transcendental teachings on erroneous principles.

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