Q&A: —“I’ve been interested in the case of Spain for some time, as my ancestors are primarily Spanish. And I wanted to understand the reasons for the rise of the Spanish and if they had any philosophical contributions to the western World. If you saw no reason to comment on the Spanish, I don’t wish to take your attention away from something which could be more useful. But, if there is anything to say about the Spanish, I would certainly be willing to read what you have.”— David
The Spanish question is interesting because Spanish philosophers were central to the Scholastic movement, the Spanish empire was so powerful, and so successful but rapidly evaporated under industrialization. So that the Spanish had lost their position by the time of the enlightenment’s transfer of power from the landed to the merchant classes, and the vast inte
The argument for why this happened is well understood:
1) The Spanish were a hardworking people, and meaningful commercial leaders as trade spread from the Mediterranean to the atlantic..
2) The peak in spanish contirbution to philosophy occurred in Catalan where the Translators of Toledo first translated greek texts from arabic into latin, then to catalan. This set of translations created what we know as the modern spanish language. And is probably the basis for what we call today ‘spain’. And it was the latin translations that reintroduced europe to science and philosophy.
3) The discovery of the new world created an enormous influx of gold (currency).Spain spent its wealth on wars, notably against the low countries (Netherlands).
4) As we see with Americans, unearned wealth tends to make a people lazy, and they seek status signals not productivity. And decline after wealth is very difficult for a people to work through.
5) With the people ‘ruined’ from this process of expansion, wealth, war, and failure to convert to industrialization, they did not produce an enlightenment on the scale of england, france, germany, or ashkenazi-dom (eastern europe and russia). And spain devolved into a relatively poor country despite being second only to the UK in the territorial expansion of spanish language and genetics.
6) Spanish cultural, military, and economic excellence was was the product of Austrian not Spanish rule. Just as eastern european excellence was the product of german and Austrian rule. (see Kennedy’s bookhttps://en.wikipedia.org/…/The_Rise_and_Fall_of_the_Great_P…) And when the Hapsburgs declined, so did aristocratic influence in spain.
So, Spain went into decline, and she was unable to maintain her colonies when the Americans and British chose to deny her access to first the caribbean, and then south america. Read anything basic you can find on the rise and fall of Hapsburg Spain.
But I will say something uncomfortable:
That Spain ascended under Roman, Muslim, and Austrian rule, but could not maintain that ascent under her own rule. SO WHY IS THAT?
Something we must ponder. But most of us probably attribute this to geographic location, and mediterranean (hot weather) culture, catholicism, and the failure of Spainish culture to join the Hanjal Line and develop the absolute nuclear family, and low corruption we see in protestant countries that still practice ‘the oath’.