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Chapter VI

Education and Philosophy

Education and the Enlightenment

The heart of the Enlightenment, in Spain as in the rest of Europe, was education. The ruling classes, if they were to exercise power for their own true benefit and that of the remainder of the population, had to acquire the knowledge requisite to statesmanship: economics, history, political theory, and law. The laboring classes, if their standard of living was to rise, had to learn how to apply scientific and technical advances to agriculture and manufactures. Education seemed to be the means for the material and moral betterment of individuals and the human race. This was no matter of individual salvation and harmony with God, but a lay concept of morality envisaging the progressive and indefinite betterment of the entire species as men came increasingly to understand their true relationship to their fellowmen53. Such leading figures of the age as Condillac, Condorcet, Rousseau, and Locke, to name only a few, did not disdain to elaborate plans of education; and a pedagogic upheaval was initiated by Pestalozzi in the late eighteenth century. In sofar as educational innovations were put into practice, this usually occurred outside the established educational institutions. Universities in particular seem everywhere to have constituted an intellectual rear guard preserving the academic disciplines and methods of the Middle Ages. Adam Smith, for instance, considered them the last refuge of outworn and discredited systems; and he found that in the University of Oxford, most professors had long since given up all pretense of teaching (pp. 718, 727). Like his illustrious contemporaries, Jovellanos saw in education the key to a better future. In his Report on the Agrarian Law he asks for the propagation of the technical knowledge requisite to economic development. In other writings and as a member of the Economic Societies, he promoted vocational training among the poor, among women, and among nuns (II, 42b-43a, 355-56). The political system which Jovellanos envisaged, permitting free expression and a free press and involving a parliament representative of the various social ranks, presupposed a progressive enlightenment of the citizenry.

Spanish education in Jovellanos' time was far from fulfilling the demands which reformers placed on it. Primary education, though widely accessible, was by no means universal, so that many peasants and laborers remained illiterate. Secondary education was limited both in its availability and its scope. It was traditionally humanistic; and the humanities, then as now, formed the individual but did not train him for an economically productive role. To prepare students for university work, which required a thorough knowledge of Latin, a large part of secondary studies was devoted to ancient languages, literatures, and history, frequently at the expense of attention to Spanish history and culture. The Jesuits had provided highly esteemed secondary schools, attended largely by the upper classes. After the expulsion of this Order in 1767, the State attempted to carry on its work while modernizing the curriculum. State schools taught such subjects as modern foreign languages, natural sciences, and what we now call «political science», a study meant to strengthen the hand of the State in its long struggle with the authority of the Church. The school established at Vergara by the Basque Economic Society, a school which Jovellanos admired and to some extent imitated in Gijón, followed a similarly modern curriculum54.

Universities did not enjoy the esteem of the reformers. Even the leading ones, Salamanca and Alcalá, were the butt of sarcastic remarks by Cadalso and Tomás de Iriarte (Cotarelo, pp. 127 28, 134, n. 2); and some of the less reputable ones had become little more than diploma factories. As in other countries, universities in Spain tended to resist intellectual and curricular innovation. To be sure, some important figures of the Enlightenment did have connections with them; Feijóo, for instance, was for most of his life a professor of theology at the University of Oviedo. His intellectual significance, however, has nothing to do with that position; his readings, investigations, and writings deal only tangentially with the science he professed. The important intellectual progress of the age, in Spain and elsewhere, took place outside the universities and often against their opposition. They were largely dominated by the clergy and sometimes injured by strife among the religious orders. Instruction was given in Latin. The major disciplines were the traditional ones of theology and jurisprudence and, to a lesser extent, medicine; and most of what constitutes the curriculum of today's American university was totally ignored. Diego de Torres Villarroel, in his autobiography, gives us a frightening picture of the University of Salamanca early in the century: violent factionalism split the school, and such chairs as those of mathematics, Greek, and Hebrew remained unfilled for years or even decades. The government of Charles III tried repeatedly to reform higher education, but the very repetition of such efforts is an adequate commentary on their effectiveness. As late as 1798 Jovellanos reports to Charles IV that the University of Salamanca «unfortunately still resembles an ecclesiastical establishment» (V, 294a); and in 1802 he finds «modern» studies unsuited to the universities, whose venerable institutions he wishes, with some irony, to leave undisturbed (I, 237a).

Jovellanos' Educational Writings

Since the Spanish educational system of the latter eighteenth century was ill-suited to carry out the tasks which Jovellanos, in common with other reformers, envisaged, he set out to change it. His efforts were both practical -the establishment of schools, notably of the Royal Asturian Institute- and theoretical -a series of pedagogical writings extending over almost three decades, from the Discurso sobre los medios de promover la felicidad de Asturias (An Address on the Means of Promoting the Prosperity of Asturias), 1781, to the Bases para la formación de un plan general de instrucción pública (Bases for the Formation of a General Plan of Public Education), 1809, and including the Regulations for the College of Calatrava (1790), the Ordenanza para el Real Instituto Asturiano (Regulations for the Royal Asturian Institute), 1793, various discourses written in the 1790's on the need for scientific education and the relationship between scientific and humanistic training, and the Theoretical-Practical Treatise on Education (1802).

In these works Jovellanos' deals with the entire range of educational problems. He discusses physical and financial arrangements for the establishment and conduct of schools, practical details of housing, discipline, examinations, grading, etc., and questions of curriculum. He combines the discussion of such problems with an exposition of his opinions on epistemology and ethics, writing on philosophical questions only in connection with matters of more immediate concern.

Editions of Jovellanos' works include the Course in Spanish Humanities, consisting of a preliminary essay followed by sections on poetics, rhetoric, English and French grammar, and general grammar or linguistics. The desire to give humanistic training in Spanish, with the study of Spanish texts, rather than in Latin and oriented exclusively to the study of ancient literature, is characteristic of Jovellanos, as is the wish to instruct students in the grammatical rudiments of modern foreign languages. Jovellanos himself gave English lessons at the Royal Asturian Institute, as well as lectures on rhetoric and poetics; and the Course generally reflects the actual teaching of these subjects at the Institute under Jovellanos' direction. There are, however, reasons to question his authorship, though not his inspiration, of all but the preliminary essay, for whose authenticity we have the testimony of Jovellanos' diary55. I therefore choose texts clearly by Jovellanos when a subject is dealt with in more than one place.

A similar situation exists with respect to the Plan para la educación de la nobleza (Plan for the Education of the Nobility), which reflects some of Jovellanos' ideas and may be inspired by him or produced by him in collaboration with others, but which is probably not exclusively his. Its date, 1798, corresponds to the period of Jovellanos' ministry. We know that Jovellanos' official duties involved educational reform, but the Plan could well have been prepared by subordinates56.

Jovellanos' major pedagogic work, if one omits the detailed regulations for specific schools, is the Theoretical-Practical Treatise on Education, written in 1802, while its author was a prisoner on Majorca, for a contest sponsored by the Economic Society of that island. In this, his most extensive theoretical study of educational questions, Jovellanos argues that the prosperity of a society requires widespread free public education, the nature of which he then proceeds to out line. It is to consist of «sciences of method», that is, the tools for learning, followed by the «instructive sciences», which convey factual information. Jovellanos intended also to propose methods of financing such education, but his plan remained unfinished. The following analysis of his pedagogic and, to some extent, philosophic thought is largely based on the Treatise (I, 230-67).


Jovellanos' educational writings show him to be a resolute enemy of what his age called scholasticism; and his contemporaries recognized him as such, hoping that he would help to deliver them from «scholastic darkness» and «the chains of prejudice» (IV, 499a), or persecuting him for ideas allegedly subversive of the religious and political order57.

This antischolasticisim does not imply rejection of Roman Catholic theology. There is ample evidence that Jovellanos not only believed the teachings of the Church but also practiced all that the Church demands, and more. Unlike some of his detractors, however, he distinguished between religion and Church; and consequently he occasionally attacked what he considered economic and political encroachments by the Church on the public welfare and the authority of the crown. Furthermore, condemnation of scholasticism does not necessarily signify rejection of the ethical and juridical concepts of medieval Christianity, including those of St. Thomas Aquinas. Jovellanos and other moderate reformers of his time did not seek to make a clean sweep of the past, but to submit its tenets and practices to rational examination.

What Jovellanos' antischolastic posture does signify is disenchantment with the scholastic and Aristotelian method of teaching and learning followed by the educational establishments of his day. In practice, this method meant a tendency to interpret reality by means of deductive reasoning which started from the opinions of authorities consecrated by tradition, even when, as in the case of scientific and medical treatises, they plainly contradicted experiment and experience. It meant what Jovellanos considered an abuse of syllogistic reasoning inappropriately applied and prizing cleverness of argument above the discovery of truth (Calatrava, pp. 207-8). Preoccupation with method is clear in Jovellanos' condemnation of his own early training: «In my first studies I followed, without any choice, the regular method of our teachers. Afterwards I studied philosophy, always following the ordinary method and ancient topics of our schools. I began the study of jurisprudence with no preparation other than a barbarous logic and a sterile and confused metaphysics, which I thought at that time gave me a master key with which to enter the sanctuary of knowledge. Even my teachers considered all other studies, including history, to be useless» (I, 288b).

This condemnation of scholasticism extends also to theological texts. Jovellanos declares that St. Thomas' Summa theologica, though a great work, suffers from the uncritical scholastic methods of its author's time, besides being of little use for elementary theological studies and for the defense of the Church against its modern enemies (Calatrava, pp. 161-62). In all intellectual fields Aristotelian philosophy, «deformed» and «corrupted» by its Arabic and European commentators and interpreters, had become «the best shield of common prejudices» (I, 314a) and had, in effect, closed the gates of knowledge. «The glory of opening them wide was reserved for the sublime genius of Bacon» (I, 336b). Peripatetic philosophy had perverted theological studies, directing attention away from the sources (Bible, patristic writings, councils, etc.) and toward its own sophistic speculations (Calatrava, pp. 152-53). It had impeded the progress of natural science by confusing men with idle speculations (I, 336), which Jovellanos promises to avoid in the Asturian Institute:

In it there will be no attempt to obfuscate your minds with empty opinions or to cram them with sterile truths, no attempt to launch them on metaphysical investigations or to make them roam through those unknown regions where for so long a time they strayed. What can the presumptious rashness of man find in them? From Zeno to Spinoza and from Thales to Malebranche, what could ontology discover but monsters, chimaeras, doubts, or illusions? Ah, without revelation, without this divine light which descended from heaven to illuminate and strengthen our dark and weak reason, what would man have grasped of all that exists outside of nature? What would he have grasped even of those sacred truths which so ennoble his being and form his sweetest consolation?

(I, 320a; cf. I, 314b)                

The alternative to scholasticism was, for Jovellanos, the sensualistic epistemology of Locke and Condillac. «Locke restored [logic], if, indeed, he did not found it; Condillac simplified its principles; Bonnet improved them; and in my opinion our Eximeno purified and perfected them»58. Jovellanos sees logic in Lockeian terms, not only as the play of syllogisms but as an effort to explain the origin of our ideas and the nature of the mind. Like Locke, Jovellanos believes that all ideas are derived from experience, either directly through sensation or indirectly by reflection (I, 240a); but, like Condillac, he tends to emphasize the role of sensation. «Man receives all his first ideas through the senses», he writes. «His soul perceives and compares them and operates on them»59. Elsewhere we read: «Can we doubt that the soul thinks because it feels, and that if feeling and thinking are not one and the same thing, we must say that it feels before it thinks?»60

Between these views and scholasticism there is no necessary contradiction, but there are important differences in stress. The scholastics tended to revere and study authority, whereas Bacon, Locke, and Condillac drew attention toward external phenomena as perceived by the mind and toward the operations of that mind. Jovellanos admired all three of these authors, but in his own writings he seems closest to Condillac61. The introspective psychology which the new epistemology demanded is what Jovellanos calls logic, an extremely broad concept for him:

If its principal object [of study] are ideas, must it not investigate their nature before dealing with their relationships? And can it investigate or explain the doctrine relating to both of these matters without showing, first, what being conceives ideas; second, to what objects they refer; third, what notions may be reached by proceeding from one idea to another; fourth, and assuming that they have reached their highest point, to what new series of ideas one may descend from that point?

Someone may perhaps tell us that none of this has to do with logic, and not without some justification, in view of the common meaning of this term. But does it not have to do with the science of ideas? And is not this science the true key to all the rest, the one which ought to be set at their gate and occupy the place given to the art of reasoning? Then call it «ideology», a name which certainly suits it better; but assign to it the body of doctrine which is essentially related to its object.

(I, 249a)                

The term «ideology», whose invention dictionaries credit to Destutt de Tracy, was already current in French by 1776 (before the publication of the French philosopher's works), when the Spaniard Capmany defended his use of ideología to translate it62. Jovellanos, like his contemporaries, understands it to be the science of ideas. It is to deal with the nature and faculties of the soul and with the nature of sense impressions. It should also explore how the soul, though perceiving only the outer characteristics of things and never their essences and substances, can distinguish among them and understand the relations among them. Comprehension of the series of efficient and final causes that unites all things leads to knowledge and recognition of a perfect Supreme Being and, ultimately, to knowledge of the eternal moral principles «engraved in the soul» by God. «In short, our ideology must link, in the order which their very nature indicates, the main ideas of dialectics, psychology, cosmology, ontology, natural theology, and ethics; in a word, all the principles of... philosophy» (I, 249). Astonishingly, Jovellanos considers the study of all this a necessary preliminary to the education of young children.


Jovellanos believes that practical moral training has been neglected. Like Condillac and Locke, he rejects the notion of innate ideas; yet he considers man to be naturally endowed with a desire and capacity for virtue from which a system of natural ethics can be derived by reason and by a moral sense. This, presumably, is the way in which moral principles are «engraved in the soul». The young must therefore be taught to develop their abilities and to recognize a hierarchy of pleasures rising from the physical through the intellectual and aesthetic to the moral. Christian ethics is for Jovellanos the perfection of natural ethics, to be inculcated through a program of religious instruction, including catechism and Bible reading.

Man has obligations to God, to himself, and to his fellowmen; and since he necessarily exists in society, his obligations to his fellowmen are inescapable. Jovellanos therefore stresses the need for training in civic morality, which, among other things, demands that each individual educate himself and his children (I, 235-36, 251 ff.). All of this ethical study is for Jovellanos a part of «ideology», that is, of the study of the self, the mind, and the operations of the mind.


Ideology, or logic, is one of the «sciences of method» which are to give students the tools for acquiring practical factual knowledge. The other such tools are language and mathematics, the latter being itself a kind of language. Like Condillac, Jovellanos considers language a method of analysis and the necessary concomitant of thought. «To think is to talk to oneself», he writes in the Theoretical-Practical Treatise. «Since man, in order to think, needs a collection of signs which will determine and order the different ideas of which his thoughts consist, language has become for him a true analytic tool, and the art of thought has come to coincide with the art of speech to such an extent that they have become virtually the same thing» (I, 240a; cf. 11, 145b).

Clear thought therefore requires clear speech, and clear speech requires the cultivation of the language. Jovellanos wants students to be trained in their own language, in foreign languages, and in the science of language itself. This study, which Jovellanos calls general grammar and we should call linguistics, is to help the student understand the working of his own tongue. It should also prepare him for the study of foreign languages (I, 245a, 248a, 270a) , which seems to me to reverse the natural order of things. Jovellanos considers Latin very useful for future lawyers and theologians; but he urges the study of modern languages, especially English and French, for those planning on «practical» careers.

And now if someone wishing to study only one of these languages should ask me which he ought to prefer, I shall tell him that French offers a body of learning which is more universal, more varied, more methodical, more agreeably expounded, and above all more closely linked with our present [1802] interests and political relations; and that English holds learning which is more original, more profound, more solid, more uniform, and, generally speaking, purer and more congenial to the Spanish character; and that, therefore, by weighing and comparing these advantages, he can choose whichever best suits his taste and his aims. I shall also say, however, that since we know both languages to be so useful for learning and other occasions in life, it will always be best for anyone aspiring to perfect his education to make an effort to study both.

(I, 248a)                

Jovellanos' special attention is devoted to the native language. Students should receive thorough training in Spanish grammar; and their work in rhetoric and poetics, intended to increase the effectiveness of their use of language as well as to open areas of aesthetic pleasure, ought to be done, unlike traditional humanistic training, entirely in Spanish. Spanish writers, or, if necessary, Spanish translations of Classical writers, should furnish the models for study and imitation; and such study should stress careful reading and comprehension of texts, not their memorization (I, 244 ff.). Spanish, furthermore, should be the sole language of instruction, not only on the secondary level but also in the universities, whose continued use of Latin Jovellanos calls irrational and impractical (I, 237a, 270-71; II, 145a).

What we call «Spanish» is of course not the native language of all Spaniards; and Jovellanos, himself the son of a dialectal region, favored cultivating the forms of local speech and giving them the dignity and precision of the literary language. Thus in the Theoretical-Practical Treatise, written in Majorca for the Majorcan Economic Society, he recommends training in the Majorcan language, a variety of Catalan (I, 245b); and in Gijón he worked for the establishment of a local academy and the preparation of a dictionary of bable, the archaic Asturian dialect. In his appreciation of local linguistic tradition Jovellanos foreshadows the Romantic penchant for the national, the local, the specific and separate. From a different perspective, he may be seen as trying to perform for the minor languages of Spain the same service which three hundred years earlier Antonio de Nebrija had performed for Castilian, or «Spanish»: to give them cultural parity with the learned and official languages.

Mathematics and the Natural Sciences

Jovellanos values mathematics as an «algebraic language» in which signs correspond exactly to ideas. Only by imitating this precision can the other intellectual sciences be «elevated» into the class of «demonstrative sciences» (I, 250b). The Theoretical Practical Treatise breaks off before discussing mathematical studies in detail, but Jovellanos' other writings give evidence of his predilection for algebraic and geometric studies. He considers geometry «the true logic of man, since by occupying him in the demonstration of definite undoubted truths and accustoming him to the rejection of any idea that is not precise, clear, and distinct, it is the one [logic] which truly teaches him to think with order and precision and to reject the errors which he finds on his way» (II, 146a). This admiration for the «geometric spirit» and for mathematics as a model of human knowledge is characteristic of the Enlightenment.

Mastery of the «sciences of method» was to be followed, according to the Theoretical-Practical Treatise, by study of the «instructive sciences», in which, to judge by Jovellanos' other works, a large role must have been allotted to those subjects which would contribute to economic development: pure and applied natural sciences, economics, and business management.

Bases for a Plan of Education and Regulations for the College of Calatrava

Jovellanos' other pedagogical writings present much the same ideas as the Treatise, modified as times and circumstances dictated. Thus the Bases for the Formation of a General Plan of Public Education, prepared in 1809 during the struggle against Bonaparte, stresses the duty of the schools to inculcate «love of country, hatred of tyranny, subordination to lawful authority, beneficence, a desire for peace and public order, and all the social virtues which form good and generous citizens and which raise public morality, without which no state can be secure or free and prosperous» (I, 272a). Likewise, although he had earlier considered physical training to be the province of parents, Jovellanos now urges that it be made compulsory for all students in the public establishments and combined with basic military training (I, 268-69).

In a class by themselves are the Regulations for the College of Calatrava, a training institution for priests. Theological and canonical studies are naturally stressed in Jovellanos' plan for this college. Humanities are important as part of general training in language and as preparation in the Latin required for the specialized work of the college. The scientific and technical subjects which Jovellanos favored in lay institutions are correspondingly omitted.

In the Regulations, as in his other writings, Jovellanos expresses his aversion to scholastic methods and his preference for the epistemology of Locke and Condillac. Here also he shows his distrust of the Spanish universities; although the college was a private adjunct to the University of Salamanca, Jovellanos declares the course of studies in the public university to be almost useless and often worse than useless, since it diverts the students' attention from more sensibly organized and therefore more profitable work (p. 155). The college's students obtained their degrees from the university, but clearly they were to receive most of their significant instruction within the college and according to methods and textbooks sharply divergent from those of the university. Jovellanos' advocacy of some modern texts led to accusations, since shown to be ill-founded, that he was propagating heretical doctrines63.

The College of Calatrava, like other institutions with which Jovellanos concerned himself, was to use Spanish rather than Latin as the language of instruction. Careful reading and comprehension of texts was to replace memorization. Students were to be treated humanely; physical brutality was proscribed, as always in Jovellanos' pedagogical writings; and the psychological brutality of senseless humiliations was to be replaced with an intelligent system of rewards and punishments designed to encourage each student to work at his best level of achievement.

The Royal Asturian Institute

Jovellanos' greatest practical accomplishment in the realm of education was the Royal Asturian Institute of Navigation and Mineralogy. Like many of Jovellanos' writings, this school was a direct response to specific problems. The population of Asturias pressed heavily on the available agricultural land. Alternative sources of employment and prosperity were at hand in the fisheries and seagoing commerce as well as in the coal industry, at that time still in its infancy. Both navigation and mining, however, required development of the province's technical resources. As early as 1781, in his Address on the Means of Promoting the Prosperity of Asturias, Jovellanos had urged intensive study of mathematics, economics, and physical sciences; and the next year he proposed sending two young men to study in Vergara and abroad in order afterwards to teach science and mathematics in a school for the Asturian nobility (I, 303b-4a; II, 451-52). At Vergara the Basque Economic Society had established a seminary in which young men of good family received the modern instruction favored by its enlightened founders. Although it came to be suspected of harboring heretical and subversive ideas, Vergara served as a model for Jovellanos' evolving concept of an Asturian Institute.

After his banishment in 1790, Jovellanos tried unsuccessfully to return to Madrid as director of the Reales Estudios de San Isidro, a government-operated secondary institution64. In Gijón, meanwhile, he devoted himself ever more assiduously to the creation of a technical school. He had the support of the Navy Minister, Antonio Valdés, and of his brother, Francisco de Paula de Jovellanos, one of the town's leading citizens, who donated a house near the fine old stone mansion of the Jovellanos family. This original home of the Institute still stands on the Plaza de Jovellanos, in Gijón; and there the school was inaugurated on January 7, 1794, with an oration by Don Gaspar (I, 318-24 ), concerning which he comments in his diary: «The speech began at nine. I was quite calm; and to judge by the effects, it was well read, because it drew some tears of tenderness. I myself often felt forced to hold them back; and now and then I had to interrupt it, though with a great increase of general interest» (D I, 370).

The school which opened with such a typically eighteenth century effusion of tears on the occasion of promoting utility was what we should call a technical high school. The students ranged in age from thirteen to over twenty, with some auditors as young as ten (II, 397-98). Their studies, directed toward practical application in mining and navigation, were broader than the purely professional ones of the specialized military schools; but they were technical, i. e., applied, rather than «scientific» for their own sake65. Like Locke, Jovellanos believed that human knowledge has limits which it is folly to attempt to transgress (I, 322b, 340b; II, 413a, 415a). The motto he chose for the Institute, Quid verum, quid utile, reflects the dual goal he set for the school: to seek useful truth, and true usefulness. Jovellanos did not preach the pursuit of truth for its own sake.

The curriculum of the Royal Asturian Institute, as codified in its Ordenanza (Ordinances, II, 399-420; cf. I, 617b-18a; II, 389b), was weighted in favor of mathematics and the physical sciences; but it did not exclude other subjects that contributed to the formation of the man and the technician. The boys therefore studied humanities, including grammar, rhetoric, and poetics; but this instruction was given entirely in Spanish and with Spanish examples and models. English and French were also taught, largely to facilitate the translation of modern technical publications. Jovellanos himself, while in Gijón, helped in the teaching of these languages. In addition, the students learned technical drawing.

Jovellanos meant the Institute to serve as a model for other technical institutions (I, 325b; II, 202a, 266b). It was also a step in the further laicization of Spanish education. It taught no Latin, prepared students for no university courses, such as canon law or theology, and was financed and operated by laymen with the support of the government. The Institute pioneered in generally modern and humane methods of instruction and discipline. Rote learning was to be held to a minimum; the school would stimulate and utilize the students' desire to learn; corporal punishments were prohibited; the importance of recreation was recognized. Even so, Jovellanos' program for the Institute may seem antiquated in part and demanding far beyond the level of most of our schools; but it comes as a pleasant surprise to anyone familiar with descriptions of the traditional Spanish institutions, even if we discount half of what we are told by such authors as Torres Villarroel and Quevedo. Jovellanos' approach to education seems to have made a favorable impression on Manuel Godoy, who made him Minister of Justice partly to promote educational reform and who, in 1806, even with Jovellanos imprisoned in Bellver, established a Pestalozzian institute in Madrid66.

The Royal Asturian Institute was immediately recognized as an innovation in Spanish education. It was generously supported by enlightened elements, including members of the clergy; but it also attracted the unfavorable attention of the Inquisition and the hostility of those, clergy and laity, who saw anything «modern» as subversive of Altar and Throne. A new and larger building was constructed for it beginning in 1797, according to the plans of the architect Juan de Villanueva. This building continued to be the home of the Institute, since renamed Royal Jovellanos Institute, until the 1960's. After Jovellanos' imprisonment in 1801 the Institute fell upon hard times; its vicissitudes need not concern us here, except to note that after its pioneering years it became indistinguishable from other Spanish institutos.

Jovellanos also tried to improve the primary education of Gijón. He was instrumental in the establishment of a free elementary school for poor boys, with funds willed for this purpose by a friend, Don Fernando Morán-La Bandera; and he persuaded one of his sisters to found a similar school for girls (Ceán, pp. 227-29; Somoza, Documentos, I, 173).

The Significance of Jovellanos' Work in Education

Both in theory and in practice Jovellanos concerned himself with education during all his mature life. Indeed, one of his last writings is an appeal for funds to restore the Institute, which had suffered from official neglect and French vandalism (V, 261-62). In theory and in practice he was a champion of a modern utilitarian education, designed to raise the economic level of his countrymen; but he also insisted on the necessity of forming the taste and spirit by means of humanistic studies. This man of the Enlightenment, a period so long and so foolishly condemned as «Frenchified», stressed the importance of the native language, the national literature, and national history and juridical traditions.

In epistemology Jovellanos' writings reflect the sensualism of the modern British and French thinkers. His concepts of moral sense and the cult of virtue derive in part from the school of Shaftesbury, Smith, and, most directly, Hutcheson. His epistemology is applied to educational theory; his ethics is a vital part of the formation of the citizen.

In fact, all of Jovellanos' educational writing rests on a conception of the individual as a part of society, so that the progress of society requires the education of the individual and the welfare of the individual requires that he be taught to live in society. Unlike the foreign pedagogical theorists, such as Locke and Rousseau, whom he occasionally draws on, Jovellanos is interested in making education broadly available in order to raise the level of society as a whole; his pedagogical works always concern themselves with schools, not with the private tutoring of a single privileged boy. They, and the Institute he founded, had some influence in the educational reforms of the nineteenth century, though perhaps less than has sometimes been claimed. Jovellanos had not been long in the grave before it became fashionable to invoke his name without troubling to read or understand his works. What interests us today in his pedagogical writings is their role as keystone of the arch of Jovellanos' political, economic, and social thought. The Spain he wished for could only be achieved through education; and as he concerned himself with education, Jovellanos never lost sight of education's social purpose.

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