*Hostos, Eugenio María de

Eugenio María de Hostos

Eugenio María de Hostos



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Hostos, Eugenio María de

Puerto Rican, 1839–1903
Although Eugenio María de Hostos began his literary career as a novelist and also wrote short stories and poetry, his prestige as a philosopher and writer is primarily due to his extensive work as an essayist. His essays are a form of combat and action. For Hostos, the essayist is the “guardian of civilization” (Moral social [1888; Social morality]). As an artist, he pursues in his essays the expression of beauty, but also understands that “beauty is only that which is good.” His essays are written in nimble prose, often with the intimate tone of an autobiographical text, but his style is always refined, even in the most private passages of his diary. His essays more closely approximate the Modernist renewal than the rhetorical prose of his age. He is direct and clear in the development of his ideas; however, he expresses them in a reflective manner and, in doing so, seeks to incite thought, to raise consciousness in order to free the human being, and in turn to advance the progress of humankind. Hostos is above all a moralist.
Influenced by the Krausist movement (Spanish followers of the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause) and positivism, his writings are impregnated with faith in the progress of humanity. His inductive-rationalist method, radical in a period in which the scholastic system dominated the Hispanic world, made Hostos both an intellectual and a man of action. Puerto Rican by birth and educated in Spain, Hostos is a citizen of the Americas: he resided and taught in the United States, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Santo Domingo. In his complete works, the collection of essays comes from 113 different magazines in various countries, which span the Americas and Spain, and among which seven were founded by Hostos. Two of the magazines that he founded in Santo Domingo, Las Tres Antillas (The three Antilles) and Los Antillanos (The Antillean people), had such notorious repercussions with their philosophy of independence that the Spanish government pressured the Dominican Republic into prohibiting them.
His political and social concern is part of his vision of an integral humanism that likewise demands a personal commitment: “No man is stronger than the man who fulfills his duty” (“En que se fundan los deberes sociales” [1888; On what social duties are founded]). Therefore, when his efforts failed before the revolutionary Spain of 1869, Hostos writes in his diary: “I cannot continue here…without renouncing my conscience and my dignity and my principles” (30 May 1869). In America, his fight for the political independence of the Antilles (Cuba and Puerto Rico) formulates itself as an imperative for human progress. He presents America as a symbol of the future where “three mother races, the native, the conquistador and the African,” are in the process of achieving “the fusion of races into one civilization”; in this way, he speaks to us about an Antillean federation, a federation of Latin American nations as a preliminary step toward “the union of all nations” (“El día de America” [1883; America’s day]). Politically speaking, he sees independence in the federation, and fights for the abolition of slavery as an initial step to the recovery of human dignity: “For me, the cholo [the mestizo—person of mixed blood] is not a man, he is not a type nor the example of the race; he is all of this and, in addition, a social question of future.” With the cultural perspective by which this term is enriched, Hostos affirms that “America will owe its future to the fusion of races…the mestizo is the hope of progress” (“El cholo,” 1870).
As Hostos had to confront in Spain the “liberal” intellectuals, who were denying the colonies the rights for which they were fighting, in America, particularly in the Dominican Republic, his teaching methods and ideas regarding the liberation of the individual led him to a confrontation with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Hostos, influenced by Krausist ideology in Spain, was promoting an interior religion in which the principles of the conscience would dominate and prepare “the transition from the traditional religions to the religions of Reason” (Moral social). In New York he also had to confront the greed of personal interests dividing Cuban and Puerto Rican patriots and degrading the ideals for which he was fighting.
But Hostos’ place in history does not arise from his political activities or controversies.
He was above all an educator who fought for cultural awareness, for an education dedicated to recuperating human dignity—a quality disregarded at that time in Latin America. In this concern he was multifarious; but there are two aspects, which, because of their present importance at the end of the 20th century, exemplify the significance of his thought: his struggle against racial discrimination and the relegation of women. In both cases, he believes that transcendence can be attained through educational reform directed toward the integral liberation of the human being. With regard to women, his position is equally strong. Hostos believes that prejudice and the abandonment of women’s education impede the progress of humanity: “Vegetation, not life; fatal development, not free development; instinct, not reason; a bundle of irritable nerves, not directed faculties; woman has been made into this by the errors that burden her, social traditions, both intellectual and moral, that crush her” (“La educación científica de la mujer” [1873; The scientific education of woman]).
Hostos, indeed, belongs to a generation of 19th-century essayists (José Martí, Manuel González Prada, and Justo Sierra, among others) who charted the vision of Latin American thought and initiated the formulation of its discourse.


Born 11 January 1839 in Río Cañas, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Educated in Spain, from 1852; Central University of Madrid, law degree, c. 1860; admitted to the Spanish bar.
Became active in Spanish politics, 1850s and 1860s. Immigrated to the United States, 1869; joined the Cuban Revolutionary Junta of pro-independence Cuban exiles in New York, and edited their magazine, La Revolución, c. 1869–70. Traveled to South America to promote Cuban and Puerto Rican independence and educational modernization, 1870– 74; taught at various schools and universities throughout Latin America. Returned to New York, 1874–77. Founder of several magazines, including Las Tres Antillas and Los Antillanos, 1875. Promoted education in Venezuela, 1877–80. Founder and dean, Santo Domingo Normal School, and inspector general of public instruction, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1880–88; headmaster, Miguel Luis Amunátegui secondary school, Santiago, c. 1888–90; worked in education, Santo Domingo, 1900–03. Had one son. Died in Santo Domingo, 11 August 1903.

Selected Writings
Essays and Related Prose
Hamlet, 1873; as “An Essay on Hamlet,” translated anonymously, in Eugenio María de Hostos, Promoter of Pan Americanism, 1953
Lecdones de derecho constitucional (lectures), 1887
Moral social, 1888; edited by Manuel Maldonado-Denis, with Tratado de sociología, 1982.
Tratado de sociología (treatise), 1904; edited by Manuel Maldonado-Denis, with Moral social, 1982.
Meditando, 1909
Romeo y Julieta, edited by Manuel Negrón Nogueras, 1939
Hostos, hispanoamericanista (includes essays by Hostos and critical essays on him), edited by Eugenio Carlos de Hostos, 1952; as Eugenio María de Hostos, Promoter of Pan Americanism, 1953
Ensayos inéditos, edited by Emilio Godínez Sosa, 1987
Obra literaria selecta, edited by Julio César López, 1988

Other writings: novels, plays, poetry, and children’s stories.
Collected works editions: Obras completas, 20 vols., 1939, and 8 vols., 1988–92, (in progress).

Foster, David William, editor, Puerto Rican Literature: A Bibliography of Secondary Sources, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982:124–43
Hostos, Adolfo de, Indice hemero-bibliográfico de Eugenio María de Hostos, 1863– 1940, San Juan: Comisión pro Celebración del Centenario del i de Hostos, 1940

Further Reading
Álvarez, Ernesto, La invasión pacífica: Estudios sobre Manuel Zeno Gandía y Eugenio María de Hostos, San Juan: Asomante, 1988
Araya, Juan Gabriel, “Hostos en Chile: 1872–1873,” Hostos Para Hoy: Anuario Hostosiano 1, no. 1 (1988):53–65
Babín, María Teresa, “El pensamiento de Hostos (1839–1903),” Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña 59 (1973):17–22
Bosch, Juan, Hostos, el sembrador, Río Piedras: Huracán, 1976
Carreras, Carlos N., Hostos: Ápóstol de la libertad, San Juan: Cordillera, 1971
Cores Trasmonte, Baldomero, “La teoría y la acción en la obra de Hostos,” Atenea 4, nos. 1–2 (1984):133–66
Ferrer Canales, José, Martí y Hostos, Río Piedras: University of Puerto Rico, Instituto de Estudios Hostosianos, 1990
Freire de Matos, Isabel, Eugenio María de Hostos para la juventud, Mayagüez: Comité del Sesquicentenario de Eugenio María de Hostos, 1990
Gutiérrez Laboy, Roberto, Hostos y su filosofíia moral: Acercamiento a Moral Social, Lajas, Puerto Rico: Sociedad Histórica de Lajas, 1992
Lugo Guernelli, Adelaida, Eugenio María de Hostos: Ensayista y crítico literario, San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1970
Maldonado-Denis, Manuel, Hostos, America la lucha por la libertad, Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno, 1980
Maldonado-Denis, Manuel, Eugenio María de Hostos, sociólogo y maestro, Río Piedras: Antillana, 1981
Maldonado-Denis, Manuel, Eugenio María de Hostos y el pensamiento social iberoamericano, Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1992
Mora, Gabriela, Hostos intimista: Introducción a su diario, San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1976
Mora, Gabriela, “Hostos feminista: Ensayos sobre la educación de la mujer,” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 24, no. 2 (1990): 143–60
Pascual Morán, Anaida, Hostos: Precursor de la educación por la paz, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico: Soñador, 1989
Pedreira, Antonio S., Hostos, ciudadano de America, Río Piedras: Edil, 1976 (original edition, 1931)
Pimentel, Miguel A., Hostos y el positivismo en Santo Domingo (filosofía y política), Santo Domingo: Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, 1981
Rivera Nieves, Irma N., El terna de la mujer en el pensamiento social de Eugenio María de Hostos, Río Piedras: University of Puerto Rico, Instituto de Estudios Hostosianos, 1992
Rojas Osorio, Carlos, Hostos, apreciación filosófica, Humacao, Puerto Rico: Colegio Universitario de Humacao, 1988

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