María Zambrano

Vélez – Málaga, 1904 – Madrid, 1991

"Because broadening your horizons is not only a question of greatness but also of diversity: of different dimensions, different ways of looking at things, a different light which the understanding has to capture, even project. So that the way of looking, in order to see properly, or on occasion only glimpse, has to be directed in another way."

María Zambrano was born in Vélez-Málaga on April 22nd, 1904. She was a republican, participated in the civil war and was exiled for more than 45 years. She is currently recognized as one of the most significant voices in 20th century philosophy. Trained in Ortega y Gasset’s school of thought, it didn’t take her long to start tracing her own particular philosophical itinerary by interpreting Ortega’s vital reason as a “knowledge of the soul”, that is, and following Empedocles, as a philosophy which is capable of spreading logos within the dark areas of feeling (“the guts”).

The material she works with belongs to areas which have hardly been explored by philosophical enquiry, such as dreams, feminine knowledge and poetry. The notion of “poetic reason” she puts forth doesn’t only designate the reciprocal contamination of philosophy and poetry, but rather points to an “alchemic” philosophy, capable of extracting the light of thought from humble, every day, “vile” material. Zambrano’s critique of dualist rationalism becomes a radical reflection which questions reason from the position of that which reason excludes and considers impure, from reason’s “hell”. In this sense, Zambrano’s philosophy is close to Nietzsche’s, with whom she shares other connections: the rejection of historicism, the condemnation of the ideology of progress as “sarcasm of the winners” and the conviction that the past holds its own revolutionary potentialities as a source of illuminating the present. This last point of view she also shares with Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin. Finally, it’s also worth noting that dawn is recurrently used as a metaphor throughout her work, which shows her attention to the renewed and daily rebirth of human beings.

Zambrano’s thought has a special interest in the forms of transformation which don’t deny, but rather presuppose, belonging and, thus, conceive freedom as practice, as an exercise of transcendence which must be carried out in our day-to-day life in coexistence with other human beings to whom we are joint by our belonging to the Universe.

Selected Works

1992, El hombre y lo divino (1955), Madrid: Siruela.

1998, Delirio y destino (1989), Madrid: Centro de Estudios Ramón Areces.

1998, El sueño creador (1965), Madrid: Club Internacional del Libro.

2001, Filosofía y poesía (1939), Madrid: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

2004, De la aurora (1986), Madrid: Tabla Rasa, Madrid.

Secondary Literature

CEREZO GALÁN, Pedro (ed.), 2005, Filosofía y literatura en María Zambrano, Barcelona: Fundación Lara.

FOGLER, Maria, 2017, “Lo otro” persistente: lo femenino en la obra de María Zambrano, Zaragoza: Prensa de la Universidad de Zaragoza.

LAURENZI, Elena y DE LUCA, Pina, 2013, Por amor de materia. Ensayos sobre María Zambrano escritos a cuatro manos, Madrid: Plaza y Valdés.

MORENO SANZ, Jesús, 2008, El logos oscuro: tragedia, mística y filosofía en María Zambrano, Madrid: Verbum, 4 vols.

REVILLA, Carmen, 2005, Entre el alba y la aurora. Sobre la filosofía de María Zambrano, Barcelona: Icaria.

RIUS GATELL, Rosa, 2007, “María Zambrano y Simone Weil: notas para un diálogo”,  Aurora. Papeles del Seminario María Zambrano, nº 8, pp. 74-82.