Each quote corresponds to the numbered sections below. As we have seen, during this time of authoritarian rule, science languished, intentionally neglected by the traditionalist and retrogressive regime. Even with the expulsion of the French, however, little was done to aid these establishments in their rehabilitation under Fernando VII.
The practicality of disestablishing even the rudiments of technological inquiry demonstrates how thoroughly out-of-step the Spanish monarchy under Fernando VII actually was.
The net result of the destructive governments and wars of the early 19th century was not only the almost complete annulment of the advancements made under the Bourbon rulers, but also the annihilation of the spirit of discovery that had almost succeeded in reforming the Spanish scientific atraso. When the absolutist period came to an end, there was very little left to resuscitate—the exiled professors and scientists would have quite a task before them as they trickled back into Spain in the s and s. The hard sciences were, to put it mildly, misunderstood as individual disciplines, independent of their philosophical background—Descartes, Leibnitz, Newton.
The Plan Pidal of established in a very general way the individual disciplines of the hard sciences as independent entities. This division is highly characteristic of the pattern of development in Spanish science, and it is here that we see the first stark division of authority. Maintaining scientific education separate from pure research had its drawbacks. Regardless, for an entire century, up until the Spanish Civil War, it was the path that Spain chose for the pursuit of scientific advancement, as abrupt and halting as that journey may have been. And so we begin to see the wedge being driven between the relatively independent royal academies and the university system, perhaps instigating a bit of competition that resulted, ultimately in a very important reform in the structure of higher education, known as the Ley Moyano.
The Ley Moyano was passed in , picking up where the Plan Pidal left off, permanently separating physics and the other hard sciences from their philosophical roots. They had also achieved a greater collective estimation of their worth as independent disciplines, especially among liberals, which is not to say that controversies about the problem of science in Spain were resolved.
In fact, the controversies—Darwinism, relativity—were still quite a ways away. In the face of largely conservative attitudes towards technology and modernization, science still had a long path to travel before it would gain the public imagination, let alone the public trust; the question remains as to whether science ever actually did accomplish this goal.
But before we deal with one sort of revolution, we must first deal with the effects of La Gloriosa.
Certainly between and the end of the First Republic in , there dawned an openness with regard to controversial subjects, and the spirit of reform was running high. However, with the restoration of the monarchy, this period of relative freedom of thought came to an end. In any case, it would be a relationship worthy of future exploration, but lies beyond the parameters of this chapter. Unfortunately, these reforms never took effect, precisely due to the short half-life of the First Republic, which disappeared within two years of its founding.
Still, a seed had been planted that all was not right within the university, despite the advancements made under the Plan Pidal and the Ley Moyano. The Plan Chao was meant to be experimental, and as such, never gained much sway among university officials, and was eventually rendered mute, leaving the Ley Moyano firmly in place.
The Restoration had rather deleterious effects on the university system as a whole, not only in terms of aborting the reforms of the Plan Chao. Several years of open discussion of Darwinism had infuriated the conservative forces within the government and within the university. On the 27th of February, , the Circular de Orovio was published in the Gaceta de Madrid, prohibiting the discussion and instruction of Darwinist principles in the Facultades de ciencias.
According to Thomas F. In the next decade, there would follow a series of royal decrees aimed at creating further reforms in the university, with additional attention to the scientific specialties and subspecialties—especially in the biomedical sciences—that were gaining ground. To return to the earlier quote from Vincenti, who implicitly decried the retrogressive policies towards science that had led to the defeat of the Spanish military in Cuba, the vehemence with which he denounced the establishment that had failed to produce scientific advancements that would have helped Spain to win the Spanish-American War, was perhaps a little misplaced and histrionic—how could Spain possibly produce anything new and useful when it was still attempting to create a viable system of education for those who wished to study science?
If anything characterizes the 19th century, aside from this lack of originality, it is the frustrating dynamic of political entities attempting to create an infrastructure for education in subjects about which they knew nothing, and for which they had either an entrenched distrust or an excess of enthusiasm. The quarrels of liberal vs. Tired, traditional art forms became freshly invigorated by the challenges of modernismo. After several centuries of decay, Spain finally had to answer to its failures, and decide what the future held for it as a nation.
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The years between and were tumultuous, polyphonic, nearly cacophonous years of debate about the path Spain should take. It was a debate that would be sorted out in the pages of books, in political speeches, in the prolific and partisan press, on canvasses, and in laboratories. Modernity, modernization, Europeanization, a new internationalism—these themes were the rubric under which all the various discourses fell, and once again the question was taken up about science seen as one of the hallmarks of the advancement of modern society. The 20th century would see a proliferation of these independent institutions, and it would be they that provided Spain with the momentum it needed to re-launch the platform of scientific inquiry that had been dismantled nearly a century earlier by the despotic French rule and the authoritarian government of Fernando VII.
As the tide of regeneracionismo reached its full swell, attention to the need for the renovation of the Enlightenment ideals of science and technology was finally effectively drawn—and heeded. Otero Carvajal The JAE was centered in Madrid, where most of the scientific facilities would eventually be built. It allowed these men of science to go on with their investigations in all areas and disciplines without being hindered by the shortcomings of the outdated institutions which produced them. But most importantly, the JAE granted scholarships to study abroad. The significance of this function can hardly be overlooked—Spain began to actively import science once the JAE was founded, and Madrid began to find a place for itself on the international stage, but more importantly, began to nurture its own scientists by providing them with the resources essential for the development of a culture of science.
The years following the creation in of the JAE and its ratification by Royal Decree in were ones of pure construction: new institutions for investigative study cropped up in Madrid, frequently linked to the JAE, which was rapidly becoming the intellectual center of Spanish science. The scientific community was significantly smaller than in Madrid, where laboratories were being renovated and built anew in most cases, but Barcelona proved to be an important player in the move towards the creation of innovative science in Spain.
In , Einstein would visit Spain and pay a visit to only three cities—Madrid, Zaragoza, and Barcelona, each in its own way a center for the growing emphasis on science. In this case, even imitation and translation, often decried as being of little merit, posed real value for the burgeoning enterprise of scientific investigation in Spain. The Einstein Years — By , the Great War had ended—an event that had had only a small effect on the continued progress of the JAE and its pensionistas and becarios who studied abroad during that time—and, more to the point, the theory of relativity had been confirmed by experiment we will discuss this in more detail in Chapter Two of this study.
As previously mentioned, the theory of relativity was first expounded in Spain in by Esteban Terradas and Blas Cabrera.
Enlaces de interés
The story of the acceptance of relativity is best outlined by Thomas F. Glick in his book, Einstein in Spain: The Recovery of Spanish Science; it would be redundant to summarize his entire argument here in these pages. However, it is important to note that Einstein and relativity had a significant impact on Spanish science and society. We will be examining its broad impact on society in Chapters Two, Three and Four—for now, we shall focus on the specific impact on the scientific community.
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First and foremost, it must be pointed out that the controversy over relativity within scientific circles, while certainly heated, was nowhere near as diffuse and intense a phenomenon as the battles over Darwinism that occurred during the 19th century and continued well into the 20th. There were, nonetheless, definite opponents of the theory of relativity, and they were rather outspoken.
This emissive-undulatory hypothesis preserved Newtonian Mechanics. But in reality, the fact that ether-drift experiments were still being conducted—or even that there was a discussion of the ether at all in the s—showed that Spain, though improving its scientific prowess, was not going to kowtow to the new ideas, especially when they threatened the traditions of Catholicism.
Within academia, however, relativity showed itself to be at its peak of attraction between the years and In and , Esteban Terradas gave a course on the theory of relativity in Barcelona.
The reaction to Einstein as a person and as a representative of lo nuevo was overwhelmingly positive among the public; however, the reaction to his science was that of complete mystification. Even the best-trained physicists struggled with the complex non-Euclidean geometries required to understand Einsteinian physics. But compared to the near Dark Ages of the 19th century in these disciplines, the s must have appeared as miraculous to those who could remember a time when the Facultades de Ciencias barely even existed.
Truly, when we look back over the trajectory of the development of Spanish science, it could be said that the struggle in which scientists engaged each other and the government was for the establishment of just this, normal science, which in itself implies a healthy system of inquiry, education and output. The director of the Instituto Nacional was Blas Cabrera, whose recognition not only by European scientists, but also those of the technology- heavy and flourishing United States, proved that Spanish scientists had at last been received into the fold of the international scientific community.
This flowering, however, was to be short-lived. He writes, thinking of what may have been: La Guerra Civil puso un abrupto final a esfuerzos realizados y logros alcanzados. Cuando, en , las armas callaron, eran muchos, demasiados, los que faltaban. It was a complex process of university reform and creation of institutions external to the university system that allowed for scientific progress to occur. Conclusion: Where Does the Problem Lie? It could be argued that the volatile combination of historians that would alternately offer a paean to the successes of Spanish science—digging deep into Spanish history for obscure figures and willfully overlooking the barren landscapes of pure research and discovery 25; or those who would deliberately skew the narrative towards the negative—have created a proverbial minefield for those who wish to attempt a straightforward analysis of the state of Spanish science between the 18th and 20th centuries.
Nothing written about science, it would seem, can be interpreted away from the ideological fabric of which it is semi- clandestinely composed. With this basis in mind, we must ask: What is it about science— its development, its instruction, and its reception by the public—that makes it so vital in estimating—to use a weighted word—the progress of that society? In the analysis of Karl Popper, philosopher of scientific discovery, the development of science in a given context becomes a question of epistemology.
Determining the ways in which human knowledge has developed is necessary in order to understand the mechanisms of the collective mind. Attributing an ideological value to arguably neutral scientific facts to use a term some would reject is not unquestionable. However, it is my contention that, within the boundaries of this individual study, the body of scientific discoveries that revolutionized 20th century existence quanta, relativity, the Uncertainty Principle and basic quantum mechanics due to their popularization within society, do indeed have the ability to convey ideological positions.
To state the issue clearly: while I do believe that science was used for ideological purposes throughout history, I do not believe that scientific discoveries are inherently, by the nature of their being and in their epistemological value, natural expressions of any one ideology or the other. In other words, I ascribe to the idea of the neutrality of scientific phenomena; their expression, however, within a society or societies, by the scientists who study them and translate the significance of those phenomena to a listening public, remains open for debate.
In this sense, the history of early 20th-century Spain was indeed a success. It has been necessary in these last pages to establish an historical foundation for this discussion so as to show why it is of particular interest to us that there would appear in otherwise literary venues articles about science and its progress. We will examine the specifically cultural valence of the new 20th-century science, in particular, the effects and presence of the theory of relativity and the eruption of quantum mechanics in the late s.
In this way, we will begin our discussion of science and literature as they coexisted during these years, , the mutual Edad de Plata. Publication of the Revista de Occidente began in , just as Spain was entering into an extremely fertile period of intellectual and artistic growth and renewal that would come to define its Interwar years. At its best, the magazine was to incorporate within its pages the most influential ideas of the day, direct from the leading authorities, and translated by the most prominent Spanish intellectuals and collaborators in the magazine itself.
The scope of the magazine was unusually broad, not limiting itself to literature or art or other cultural phenomena; the magazine, metaphorically speaking, was omnivorous, publishing articles in many diverse disciplines from poetics to paleontology.