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José Ferrater Mora

Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities 1985

José Ferrater Mora (Barcelona, Spain, 1912 – 1991), essayist and writer, has produced an enormous output of work, over more than forty years, in the fields of thought, communications and audio-visual media. His "Diccionario de la Filosofía", first published in 1941 and re-published on numerous occasions, has become an internationally prestigious classic, an essential reference work in the whole field of thought.

Ferrater Mora gain his degree in Philosophy in Barcelona. Since 1939 he has worked in various universities in France, Cuba, Chile and the United States, the country where he has lived since 1947. Although his departure from Spain was not due to purely political motives, he declared on one occasion that, "the situation of the country was not at that time the most suitable one for carrying out intellectual work such as I planned to do." After living first in france, he moved to the United States in face of imminent world war, first living in Cuba and later in Chile for six years. He later accepted a grant which took him to the United States, the country where Julio Salinas, among other Spanish exiles, encouraged him to stay.

From 1949 on he taught at Bryn Mawr College, where he was a contributor, an associate lecturer, director of the department of Philosophy of Science in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society, and emeritus professor from 1981. He was also a guest lecturer at the Universities of Princeton, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, and he also worked with the universities of Tucumán (Argentina), Montivideo (Uruguay) and Bogotá (Colombia).

Jose Ferrater Mora was the author of a series of books in which he expressed his original philosophical thought, among which, the following are outstanding: "El ser y la muerte", "El ser y el sentido", "De la materia a la razón", "Indagaciones sobre el lenguaje", "Las crisis humanas", "Cambio de marcha en filosofía" and "Ética aplicada". He also published books of essays and criticism, such as "Cuatro visiones de la historia universal", "Unamuno. Bosquejo de una filosofía", "Ortega y Gasset. Etapas de una filosofía", "El mundo del escritor", "Las formas de la vida catalana", "Ventana al mundo" and others.

Ferrater Mora likewise stood out for his creative artistic work, first in various prize-winning films at amateur film festivals and then, above all, from 1979 on with a fairly large narrative work which placed him among the front rank of Spanish novelists. In this field he published "Claudia, mi Claudia", "Voltaire en Nueva York", "Hecho en Corona", "El juego de la verdad" and "Regreso al infierno".

As well as being a "numerus clausus" member of the International Institute of Philosophy and of various academic societies, he belonged to the North- American Academy of the Spanish Language and was doctor "honoris causa" of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Central University of Barcelona, the National Open University of Madrid, and those of Montivideo, Tucumán, Mendoza, Salta and Bogotá. Among other decorations he received the Grand Cross of Alfonso X the Wise, that of Isabella the Catholic, the Cross of St. George of the Catalonian Regional Government and the Cross of the International University of Santander.

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