The Passion of Finitude and Poetic Creation: On Pedro Salinas’s El Contemplado

  • Jorge García-Gómez
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 28)


In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle speaks of moral virtue as a way of being “concerned with actions and passions, and ... [thereby with] pleasures and pains”.1 As will become apparent, moral virtue essentially involves knowledge, and yet it is only a manner sui generis of having knowledge, for “as a condition of the possession of the virtues knowledge has little or no weight ...”.2 The important question would then be this: in what fashion is the irrational element,3 i.e., the passions and the attendant pleasures and pains,4 to be connected to a rational principle, if indeed a man is to be considered virtuous in his living?


Good Life Practical Wisdom Moral Virtue Nicomachean Ethic Rational Principle 
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  1. 1.
    Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, trans. D. Ross (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), II, iii, 3, 1104b 14–6. Cf. II, vi, 10–11, 1106b 17–8.1 will henceforth refer to this work as EN.Google Scholar
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    EN H, vi, 11, 1106b 21–4. Aristotle says as well that the moral virtues also involve a similar relation to actions. (Cf. EN I, xiii, 17, 1102b 30). And this is as it should be, for we must perform actions not only to carry out our desires but also to deal with the passions at their root and the attendant pleasures and pains virtuously, i.e., in the manner specified above.Google Scholar
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    Republic 507e.Google Scholar
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    As quoted in J. Guillen, loc. cit., p. 12.Google Scholar
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    Cf. José Ortega y Gasset, Meditaciones del Quijote, with a “Commentary” by Julián Marias (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1957), p. 14.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Ibid., pp. 15, 17–8 (“Commentary”, pp. 225–6).Google Scholar
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    Cf. Ibid., pp. 110–2 (“Commentary”, pp. 332–4; 337–8, and 339–40).Google Scholar
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    Cf. Parmenides, fragment 3. In the passage just quoted, Salinas gives expression to this sameness (which is not identity, but mutuality in distinction) when he says “as white as bounteous foam”.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1050a.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Rimas, ed. J. Luis Cano (Salamanca: Anaya, 1965), liii, p. 72.Google Scholar
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    E. Heller, op. cit., p. 156.Google Scholar
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    E. Heller, op. cit., p. 157. For a brilliant demonstration of this, see Ibid., pp. 156–70.Google Scholar
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    For example in “Der Panther”, Neue Gedichte. Erster Teil in R. M. Rilke, Gesammelte Werke (Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1927), III, p. 44. Cf. E. Heller, op.cit., p. 154.Google Scholar
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    E. Heller, op.cit., p. 154.Google Scholar
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    This may perhaps be illustrated, at least in part, by Hölderlin’s great poems “Brod und Wein” and “Der Rhein”, to the extent and only to the extent that man is worked out as part of a social and natural world in the total universe. Cf. Friedrich Hölderlin, Poems and Fragments, trans. M. Hamburger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 243 ff. and 409 ff.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, pp. 39 and 163.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 16.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 17.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp.17–9.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 19–21.Google Scholar
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    Cf. F. Hölderlin, “Wie wenn am Feiertage...”, Poems and Fragments, pp. 375 and 377.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, pp. 22–5. Vide “Poesía y voz”, ibid, pp. 189 ff. and La bomba increíble in P. Salinas, Narrativa Completa (Barcelona: Barrai, 1976), pp. 261 ff.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, pp. 26–8.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 30–2.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p.40.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p.42.Google Scholar
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    Pedro Salinas, “Poética” in Poesía española contemporánea, ed. G. Diego, 3rd. ed. (Madrid: Taurus, 1966), p. 303.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
  89. 89.
    P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, p. 42.Google Scholar
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    For the opposite view, cf. Concha Zardoya, Poesía española del siglo XX, II, p. 106.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 56–7 and 64.Google Scholar
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    Cf. supra, p. 219.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, p. 46.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p.47.Google Scholar
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    Garcilaso de la Vega, Obras Completas, ed. E.L. Rivers (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1964), p. 7.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, pp. 112 and 121.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 164.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 165. Cf. Luis de Góngora, Soledades, ed. D. Alonso (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1982), i, 15 ff, pp. 39–40.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, pp. 167–8.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 168. Cf. Octavio Paz, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, o las trampas de la fe, 2nd ed. (Barcelona: Seix Barrel, 1988), p. 470.Google Scholar
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    P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, p. 170.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 181.Google Scholar
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  118. 118.
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  120. 120.
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  121. 121.
    Ibid., p.l82.Google Scholar
  122. 122.
    Ibid., p. 179.Google Scholar
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    Although this attitude does not form part of Salinas’s own list, I do not hesitate to include it here, since it completes Salinas’s schedule without contradiction and is in fact employed by him as the basic instrument for his analysis of J. Guillen’s Cántico, which appears as an appendix to La realidad y el poeta.Google Scholar
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    Cf. P. Salinas, La realidad y el poeta, p. 206.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 206–7.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 207. Cf. Alexander G. Baumgarten, Theoretische Aesthetik (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, Philosophisches Bibliothek, 1983), “Prolegomena”, I, §14: “Aesthetices finis est perfectio cognitionis sensitivae, qua talis,... haec autem est pulchritudo, et cavenda eiusdem, qua talis, imperfectio, haec autem est deformitas...”Google Scholar
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    Cf. I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B 38.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., B40;A 84 ff.Google Scholar
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    We can express this equivalently by using the following confirming words of another poet, engaged with a different subject: “His self and the sun were one/And his poems, although makings of his self,/Were no less makings of the sun”. Wallace Stevens, “The Planet on the Table”, The Rock in The Collected Poems (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1982), p. 532.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge García-Gómez
    • 1
  1. 1.Long Island UniversityUSA

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