In 1874, Spanish biologist Augusto González de Linares published his “Ensayo de una introducción al estudio de la Historia Natural” (“Essay on the Introduction to the Study of Natural History”).[1] Years later, this document would be considered fundamental by a generation of Spanish scientists and educators belonging to a progressive philosophical movement known as Krausism. Initiated during the second half of the nineteenth century by philosopher Julián Sanz del Río (1814-1869), Spanish Krausism led to the advancement of scientific initiatives and the implementation of much-needed educational reform in Spain. The reform “gained its momentum” (Ruiz Berrio 550) with the establishment of a private educational institution known as La Institución Libre de Enseñanza (The Free Institute of Education) between 1876-1936. The Spanish Krausists’ identification of science as key for the advancement of human intellectual and spiritual pursuits stemmed from Sanz del Río’s interpretation of German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781-1832). Krause proposed that “[o]nly with the awakening of the scientific spirit had man come to understand that he is a combination of nature and spirit and that the full life requires the harmony of these two essential elements” (López-Morillas 22). The adoption of the Krausist agenda was the first time in Spanish history that education ceased to be exclusively ecclesiastical and non-integrated. This modern system of laic education emphasized the crucial role of ethics and scientific knowledge, through which the advocates of Krausism envisioned successful outcomes of their mission.

Spanish Krausism and the development of its Institutes have inspired the interest of academics for decades. This article seeks to bring into focus Krausists’ impact on the rise of intellectual enterprise and its incorporation into Spain’s academic curriculum. Such paradigmatic shifts were triggered by Sanz del Río’s interpretation and implementation of Karl Krause’s theory of harmonic rationalism, as well as by Professor’s Francisco Giner de los Rios’ vision to integrate innovative pedagogy and science in the education system and therefore (fundació, the country’s intellectual fabric. In Giner’s view, ideal university, beyond being “self-governing and independent of the State,” functions based on several mandates: “the development of science through research and teaching, the general education of its students, and their care and guidance both inside and outside its precincts, the dissemination of culture through all social classes, [… and never without] training in teaching methods for all the teachers in the country” (Ruiz Berrio 550). In this essay I examine how, based on Krause’s vision of reason as the ultimate source for “bringing order out of chaos” (López-Morillas 14), Spanish Krausists developed an intellectual platform for a new educational model to be introduced amidst the historical background of Spain’s escalating political unrest from the mid-nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. I first address the establishment of Spanish Krausism and the challenges it faced at the moment of its inception and through its active years. I then explore the conceptualization of the movement’s theoretical framework premised on Krause’s 1811 Das Urbild der Menschheit (Ideal of Humanity). Finally, I discuss the achievements of Krausists in the field of science and their impact on the Spanish education system.

By synthesizing Krause’s theory of panentheism[2] and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling’s Naturphilosophie,[3] Spanish Krausism re-energized intellectual activity in Spain during the second half of the nineteenth century and reshaped the education system. Beyond the scientific advancement, such reformation generated social change through a broader access to education and Krausists’ direct contact with student population—the shift which culminated in the establishment of the progressive Second Spanish Republic in 1931. Due to their human-oriented nature and focus on the advancement of humankind, Krause’s readings of Schelling became more appealing within the Spanish historical context of insufficient progress and the continuous struggle between progressive and conservative circles. In addition, by combining political and social ideals with religious aspirations, Krause appealed to the forward-thinking Spanish intellectuals who embraced Christian spirituality but rejected dogmatism and fanaticism. They aspired to reform the system through the promotion of individual freedom in opposition to the arbitrary power and influence of the Church, as well as institutionalized oppression. Therefore, the Spanish Krausists believed ignorance was an expression of evil and envisioned a civilization where individuals would strive to realize their potential through knowledge and reason as a way to advance toward God as a supreme being.

Based on the synthetic relation between Nature and Spirit, Krause conceived a new composite theory —panentheism— which aims to explain the complex relationship between God and the world. The core concept of this postulate is that even though human consciousness and nature form part of God/Absolute Being, the Absolute, as an unlimited entity, does not fully identify with them (von Schelling, First Outline). The pantheistic idea of Absolute Identity lost its meaning when Krause established the duality of the finite and infinite, that is the equal importance between the divine and non-divine. In Krause’s opinion, Schelling’s approach placed the humans in a very restricted position, limiting them of possibilities to exercise their free will. In such a view, he argued, human development was predetermined. Krause’s main critique of Schelling’s position on “history as a simple natural process […] in which there would be no room for the ideas of human freedom and responsibility” (López-Morillas 16) resonated strongly with Spanish Krausists. In their search of a philosophical framework to guide them towards the promotion of Spain’s modernization, these thinkers adopted Krause’s understanding of human development as a process granted by the Absolute. They envisioned that, by incorporating reason and nature in human activity with absolute liberty, the Spanish citizenry would move towards unity with God.

For Spanish Krausists, panentheism was a way to resolve the ambivalent position of religion within their ideology. On the one hand, they adhered to the values of Christian credos while, at the same time, resented the controlling position the Spanish Catholic Church and the power it had been granted by the monarchy. Thus, these intellectuals rebelled against the manipulation and oppression of the Spanish people via the imposition of religious dogma by the Church and the State. Panentheism, therefore, offered a harmonious vision of the world where humankind could apply knowledge and reason to progress and aspire to join the Creator. For Spanish Krausists, this was a way to reconcile the traditional with the modern, and to rationalize their Christian faith with scientific labor. They sought to contribute to shaping dignified and free “individual, […] useful to humanity and nation” (Ruiz Berrio 546-8). However, their stance on the Church’s authority and its alliance with the State continued to be controversial against the backdrop of political turmoil and ideological inconsistency resulting from Spain’s regimes between 1868 and 1874.

The context in which the Spanish Krausism emerged was a reality determined by chaos, political repression, and economic inequality. The country’s scientific production and educational system had already reached the peak of its decadence, with universities, accessible exclusively to the upper-class, failing to provide students with either adequate instruction or basic equipment, crucial for the learning of the experimental sciences.[4] Moreover, corruption was rampant. This deep stagnation was a result of general political disorder, the exile of intellectuals and liberals to Great Britain and France, the exhausting Carlist wars, and the widespread economic and ideological crisis in Spain.

From the outset of Spanish Krausism to its decline in 1917, the country continued to significantly lag behind its neighboring nations with regard to social infrastructure and scientific achievement as evidenced by slow and unequally-distributed industrialization and urbanization.[5] The socio-political context of the time motivated this group of intellectuals to object to the dominant climate and to reshape Spanish society by implementing Krause’s theoretical tenets, inspired by humanistic pedagogy and German mysticism (Vázquez Ramil 24). Spanish Krausists envisioned the country’s modernization as refinement of idiosyncrasies by virtue of knowledge. These individual advances would stimulate the growth of a new paradigm that would, in turn, allow Spanish society to move towards the Ideal of Humanity.

This undertaking was premised on three key postulates: “(a) a definition of the content and method of scientific knowledge; (b) a new vision of man as amalgam of the universe; and (c) a harmonic organization of humanity” (López-Morillas 3). In their effort to impede further fragmentation of Spanish society and consolidate the education system by means of science, this group of intellectuals was inspired by Krause’s view that reason was the key to systematizing disorder. As Christian Rubio reminds us, these intellectuals, and to a greater extent Giner de los Ríos, sought to balance spiritual, physical, and mental well-being of an individual via new pedagogical paradigms that embraced the study of aesthetics, introduced physical education as well as exploration of nature in the curriculum (XXV), and fostered academic freedom. Giner believed that the pressing issue of the “youth of the day” should be challenged by virtue of “intellectual discipline and inflexible convictions to model their behavior” (Cacho 233). To correlate their philosophical premise to an actual execution, the Krausists approached individual evolution by virtue of academic training and intellectual inquiry as an analogue for nature’s self-producing essence and a guarantor of a more harmonious relations within humanity. The scholars envisioned educators as facilitators of such exploration, promoters of harmony between spirit and mind through students’ active engagement in the learning process, and organic rather than mechanic methods for knowledge acquisition, that is, experimentation and analysis rather than memorization and repetition of the material.

Throughout the movement’s active years, Spanish Krausists managed to incorporate their theoretical framework into the societal fabric by establishing secular educational institutions for students of all social status and genders. Consequently, women achieved opportunities to incorporate in academic and political spheres in Spain despite dominant intransigence of the traditionally inclined teacher population towards coeducation and overall system renovation (Alvarez Lázarro 18-9). The practical application of Krausism also entailed opening of La Asociación para la Enseñanza de la Mujer (the Association for the Education of Women) by Krausist Fernando de Castro in 1870, as well as la Residencia de las Senõritas (the Residence of the Señoritas) founded by Spanish educator Maria Maeztu Whitney in Madrid in 1915. The latter stemmed from La Junta para la Ampliación de Estudios (the Council for the Extension of Studies) established in 1907 and notable for study abroad programs, “scholarships to finance expeditions and related research, and speaking opportunities” upon students’ return from such trips (Rubio, XXVI), as well as “students’ hostel, female hostels” and “a center for historical studies” (Ruiz Berrio 550). In 1918 Instituto Escuela became another coed institution to serve the public. That same year another institution -Instituto Internacional- based on a model from the United States “that supported women’s emancipation” (Alvarez Lázarro 24) opened its doors in Madrid.

Beyond its contribution to the modernization of Spain’s academic model and advancement of scientific scholarship, Spanish Krausism impacted literary and artistic production, and promoted social justice through access to education for women of various social strata.[6] Women started to contribute to the activity of Madrid’s famous cultural institution called Scientific, Literary and Artistic Ateneo frequented by intellectuals and denominated by critics “natural settlement of democrats, economists, krausists and Catholics” (“palenque natural de demócratas, economistas, krausistas y católicos”) (Cacho 114). By virtue of their exchange and collaboration with Krausist such as Giner de los Ríos and writer/thinker Ramón Menendez Pidal, among others, three female authors and educators distinguished Spain’s intellectual history between the second half of nineteenth and the twentieth century. They are: journalist, poet and dramaturge Concepción Arenal (1820-1883), writer, literary critic, Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921), as well as educator, literary critic and researcher María Goyri—graduate of La Asociación para la Enseñanza de la Mujer, who was the first woman to receive a doctorate degree in languages and commerce, and later taught at La Residencia de Señoritas and at el Instituto Escuela (Alvarez Lázarro 24). While being pioneers in joining academic faculty on Spain’s campuses, all of the three groundbreaking authors fought against injustices and for women’s emancipation while creating better educational possibilities for Spain’s future generations. During the beginning of the twentieth century, women established their presence in a variety of spheres: art, philosophy, sports, politics, generating social change which culminated in achieving their right to vote in 1932 (Alvarez Lázarro 24).

Two main periods have been distinguished in the evolution of the Spanish Krausist tradition (Simó Ruescas 199). The first phase occurred between 1854 and 1875 and served as the point of introduction of Krause’s philosophy by Julián Sanz del Río (199-200). In 1860, he published Ideal of Mankind for Life (Ideal de la Humanidad para toda la vida)— an adaptation of Krause’s work of the same title. The second stage, from 1875 to 1917, also had great repercussions for the history of Spanish thought and was associated with the work of a group of scientists and academics of diverse backgrounds. This group consisted of a number of Spanish intellectuals, among whom the most salient figures were Julián Sanz del Río’s disciple, scientist Augusto González de Linares; the above-mentioned Francisco Giner de los Ríos; Doctor of Law Gumersindo de Azcárate; Doctor of Theology and Philosophy Fernando de Castro; and Professor of the Humanities Nicolás Salmerón. These and other Spanish Krausists circulated the movement’s philosophical premises within academic institutions not only in Madrid, but also in Oviedo, Valencia and Seville, with an emphasis on such disciplines as Ethics, Logic, and Psychology (Vázquez Ramil 26). For Giner de los Ríos, Ethics formed part of Philosophy studies and was inseparable from History, Literature, and Music Theory which also became incorporated into new academic curriculum (Alvarez Lázarro 54, 68) reassuring that students advanced in all areas of instruction.

In 1876, these second-wave members successfully implemented their intellectual program in the non-state regulated academy La Institución Libre de Enseñanza (ILE) innovated model of instruction “design, structure, methods, administration, techniques and teaching staff” of a traditional educational model in Spain (Ruiz Berrio 547). As a center of Spanish Krausist activity, ILE offered a progressive alternative to the existing educational model in Spain by cultivating an open space for intellectual freedom without restraints from either the Church or the State and, without reservations, positioned itself against traditional education.[7] Based on innovative methods of teaching in other European countries and in North America, the Institute promoted coeducation and catered to the Spaniards’ specific needs of a holistic approximation to education starting at elementary level which later included theological inquiry. Against passive approach to instruction established by the traditional education, Giner de los Ríos proposed a model rooted in intuition and creativity which led individuals to “become […] investigating subject[s],” using “the Socratic mode to motivate” them (Jiménez García 153). This model included several features implemented at ILE and at subsequent institutions: education had to be “active” in its inquiries, “integral” as to promote “plentitude of mind and body, […] sense of ethics and moral, […] manual training, cultivation of options […] in liberty” of thought and responsibility for individual actions; religiously, politically and philosophically “neutral”; “unified,” a “cyclical,” and “gradual and total” process where individuals were to be surrounded by families and supported by teachers. Among other innovations, students were not obliged to use textbooks or “follow a determinate orientation,” a “limit number of students per classroom” was established for more meaningful and “effective” exchanges with their instructors (158).

Among its fundamental aspects, ILE established studies on general culture and pedagogy, science, conferences and workshops, a library and study rooms with materials, a journal to publish official documents and scientific works, competitions, and prizes to promote its academic objectives (Jímenez Landi 703, quoted in Jiménez García 143), and intellectual excellence. Besides introducing new pedagogical practices, the goal was to disseminate new scientific, literary, and philosophical theories as a means of distancing from prevalent educational models rooted in intellectual rigidity and religious dogmatism. Such a shift also generated from “a total redistribution of the teaching staff” which allowed a systematic reorganization and reinforcement by more dynamic educators (Cacho 258) with diverse “range of philosophical opinions” (Ruiz Berrio 546). In addition, within the education reform framework, “[s]everal organisms of teaching and research became encompassed in new departments,” for example School of Diplomacy joined the Department of Letters, the Observatory of Meteorology and Astronomy now played part of the Math Department which promoted a more integrated and holistic institutional structure. High school-level education now counted with a more expanded list of requirements, including four new ones: “Spanish Lexicography, Applied Mathematics, Economy and Uranography, and Geology” to be taken in a determinate order. Besides, other requirements were established, among which we find a number of years to be dedicated to the secondary education, knowledge of foreign languages apart from Latin, and duration of the academic years (Cacho 258-60).

Similarly, ILE founders were concerned with more than introducing the world of scientific knowledge to Spanish youth with an interflow of formal, natural, and social sciences. They believed other types of education, such as art, physical education, hygiene, and religion, were no less essential in shaping of an ideal humankind. The scholars also emphasized the significance of “relations with the family and a family-style school life as a model for the dynamics of school activities, frequent close contact with nature and art, physical games in the open air, school walks and excursions, study trips, holiday camps, [and] vocational guidance” (Ruiz Berrio 548). More importantly, the backbone of their educational philosophy was the focus on the ethical component in the development of an individual enacted by virtue of “austerity, of calm estimation of life, that at all time must be a practical expression of an ideal” (Adolfo Posada cited by Rubio, xviii). Upon its inauguration, ILE offered University-level instruction, but in 1878, it embraced elementary and secondary levels programs (Fundación Giner). It was the first time in the history of Spain that such a broad approach to education was undertaken. In 1877 the success demonstrated by ILE facilitated the creation of other colleges and educational institutions that developed according to the model it presented.[8] Financial support of progressive middle classes for the Krausists mission was decisive particularly at early stages of this endeavor (Ruiz Berrio 546). Due to economic hardship in 1881, the institute had to dedicate its attention only to secondary and higher education, offering courses on philology, rhetoric, poetry, geography, universal and Spain’s history, arithmetic, algebra, physics and chemistry. For preparatory and doctorate level students, offered degrees in Jurisprudence and Philosophy embraced science subjects such as physics, chemistry, mineralogy, botany and zoology. Doctorate degrees included International Law and Philosophy of Jurisprudence, Comparative Legislation, and Ecclesiastic History (Jiménez García 145-6).

The inception of ILE stemmed from Julián Sanz del Río’s observation of the German university system during his trip in 1843, which the scholar embarked upon precisely with the purpose of finding a philosophical platform to promote progress in Spain. After an in-depth study of Karl Krause’s theoretical works, Sanz del Río was able to successfully formulate the movement’s intellectual program and the application of new canons in the scientific and pedagogical sphere (López-Morillas 1, 2). This “new doctrine” was “the [idea of] harmonic rationalism,” one of Krause’s key concepts that Sanz del Río appropriated in his own writings to coin a new term: rational realism (2). As noted by Fernando Martín Buezas, with the system of rational realism, Sanz del Río searched for “un realismo donde lo real sea lo descubierto metódica y científicamente por la razón y sus fuerzas” ("a realism where the real was to be uncovered methodically and scientifically by reason and its forces) (67).[9] According to this rationale, all components of reality would be tightly interwoven in synchronous existence within themselves and with each other, thus forming a harmonic unity (70). Without a doubt, the vision presented by Sanz del Río evokes Friedrich Schelling’s perception of reality as a system unifying various seemingly disparate elements, the unity of which is achieved be means of articulating the synthetic relationships between them (First Outline). Following his teacher’s postulate, Krause insisted that only through the utilization of reason —the unique force capable of bringing order to all chaotic and antagonistic elements of the real— could harmony be achieved. Thus, the Spanish scholar amalgamated the aforementioned theories and his own interpretation of realism in order to reintroduce them into his country’s context of political and social fragmentation. Sanz del Río believed that, as a pillar of Spanish Krausism, this tenet offered an “intellectual paradigm” (Rubio 7) that would contribute to societal cohesion and advancement through knowledge by means of individual effort. While achieving a harmonic reality based on the use of reason was a collective responsibility, the success of such an endeavor hinged on inclusivity and accessibility of a well-rounded education for all citizens.

When in 1857 Sanz del Río gave his famous inaugural speech for the academic year at the Madrid University, he articulated the entire program for intellectual pursuit and presented his vision of a university as an organic construction, “a sort of Civitas Scientiae, where the multiple activities of intellect would flow together” (López-Morillas 1). In that speech, the scholar championed the Spanish Krausist movement’s goals and criticized the imposition of ecclesiastical and state powers on the social order. In his own words: “Rechazamos […] como injusta e invasora la pretensión del Estado a sujetar a su competencia e intervención toda la actividad social. La centralización como sistema de gobierno daña la educación libre, gradual, progresiva de la sociedad y las esferas particulares” (“We reject, […] as unjust and invasive the State’s pretense to subdue all social activity under its own power and intervention. The centralization of a government system hurts free, gradual, [and] progressive education of the society and its particular spheres”).[10] He vigorously promoted the right of individuals to be free of state control and its restraint of their social and intellectual activity.

During the 1850s, Sanz del Río’s lectures attracted a large audience of intellectuals, such as Professors Salmerón, Castelar and De Castro, and some politicians, in addition to students attending the University of Madrid. After the scholar’s death in 1869, his disciples and friends faithfully carried out the mission of their teacher and colleague to educate the public about predominant philosophical debates in other European countries and to spark interest for further scientific investigations in Spanish youth. Spanish Krausists believed that it was the moral duty of the intellectual circle of the country to invest their knowledge and energy into bringing the human community of Spain and beyond to a higher level of development, both spiritually and scientifically. Following their teacher’s example, they succeeded in arousing a “sense of a very pressing mission whose ultimate goal was universal brotherhood, a new ideal of humanity according to which the entire human community is thought of as ‘a collective person in unity of idea and purpose’” (López-Morillas 2). Concerned primarily with awakening his compatriots from what seemed to be an intellectual coma, Spanish Krausists dedicated themselves to creating a concrete plan of action in order to modernize the educational structure in Spain as a first step toward the renovation of the whole society. Krausists aspired not to instruct as was done traditionally,[11] but to educate individuals, and guide them throughout their development toward independent thinking, and intellectual curiosity with an understanding of their role in the society.

The pillars of the movement’s ideological program were based on Krause’s key concepts, embraced and further developed in Sanz del Río’s writings and lectures where science occupies a central role in the successful progression of all human communities. There are four main disciplines—Math, Logic, Aesthetics, and Ethics—all of which originate in the same source, Wesengliedbau, freely translated as “a divine organism” (López-Morillas 15). Thus, every discipline is a sort of a molecule in the composition of the organic whole. Undoubtedly, Krause’s concept of Wesengliedbau resonates with Schelling’s interpretation of Nature as “an organized and organizing whole” […], and of every individual in nature as an expression of this whole" (First Outline, xxxii). Following his professor’s postulate, Krause understood Wesengliedbau as the Supreme source which contained in itself a dynamic organic totality as both its own starting and end point. At the same time, Krause concentrated primarily on the integral aspects of the divine, since it is through the evolvement of these aspects and, therefore achievement of the divine wisdom, that harmony could be attained. Krause insisted that each constituent of the organic whole was, ultimately, a “separate science or discipline […] engendered in, and through God” (López-Morillas 15). As a loyal follower of Krause, Sanz del Río continued this line of thought in his work, emphasizing God as omnipresent and thus, all of God’s creation to be of transcendental value. In the following excerpt of the above-mentioned speech Sanz del Río, the Spanish scholar affirmed:

El pensamiento de Dios que reina en la base del mundo científico y de nuestro Instituto, penetra con secreta virtud en cada reino y esfera de este mundo. […] Todas las ciencias nos llevan por su discurso natural e innatas leyes al conocimiento de Dios, el criterio de nuestros juicios, la fuente de nuestros amores, el norte de nuestra voluntad, la piedra angular, que no puede ser removida en nuestro espíritu sin que retiemble y venga abajo todo el edificio intelectual y el humano."

(The thought of God that reigns in the scientific world and of our Institute penetrates every area and sphere of this world with secret virtue. […]. All the sciences take us through their natural and innate laws to the knowledge of God, the criteria of our opinions, the source of our love, the lodestar of our own will, the cornerstone which can’t be moved in our spirit without shaking and fracturing the edifice of all intellectual and human life" (Castillejo Gorraiz 104-5).

Thus, drawing on Schelling’s understanding of the individual as a molecular element of an all-embracing Nature, Spanish Krausists attributed the utmost importance to human development. Human progress, in their view, was only possible by means of individual exposure to both the humanities and science. Thus, they synthesized Schelling’s identification and Krause’s consequent consideration of humanity as “the highest finite essence that has emerged from the hand of God” into a vision of Man as a “perfect synthesis of the two finite essences of the universe,” that is, Spirit and Nature (López-Morillas 15). They approached the individual as another component of the divine unity, who was expected to explore and apply science to make the most of their innate potential. By virtue of such an achievement, each human being would eventually reach a higher level of development, thus situating themself further along in the journey to reunite with God, the only infinite essence.

The years leading up to the Revolution of 1868[12] were notorious for political persecutions and expulsions of the Krausists, who formed part of the Spanish intellectual avant-garde and dedicated themselves to combating ignorance and low morality as well as improving the country’s impoverished scientific scholarship. Notwithstanding the Krausists’ good intentions, their struggle for advancement appeared to be dangerously challenging to the hegemonic structure. As Jiménez García explains, the Krausists and other academics had an undoubtful impact on Spanish youth to whom they carried out modern and progressive values (133–34). In 1867, Sanz del Río, De Castro, and Salmerón were politically summoned to pledge their alliance to the Queen in addition to professing their religious faith. As a consequence of the scholars’ refusal to comply, they were expelled from their positions at the university. However, after the Revolution, the new government of the 1st Spanish Republic (1873-74) reinstated the scholars in their original positions, which allowed them to initiate a creative project to reconstruct the educational system for the benefit of their country. The 1st Republic President Estanislao Figueras, for example, believed science to had been served to the interests of politics and presented as enemy of the dominant culture all of which resulted in significant delay in Spain’s culture (Jiménez García 138-40). Therefore, science-oriented education was to galvanize fight for liberties and freedoms across Spain.

One distinct feature of the Krausist program concerned, in particular, those members of society who had been marginalized from formal professional training: women and the poor. In 1876, de Castro, Giner de los Ríos, Salmerón, and others finally received the constitutional right to accelerate their humanist project by instituting a chain of gratis schools on the national level. As noted by Ruiz Berrio, in 1866, Salmerón opened the [first] International College in Madrid, which lasted eight years and became a forerunner for ILE (543–57). In 1875, one year before the new Constitution was adopted, “the Ministry of Public Works […] took it upon itself to exercise rigid control over public education. To that end, it ordered curricula to be submitted for approval to the rectors and prohibited any form of education that was contrary to dogma or critical of the throne” (Ruiz Berrio 545). This marked the second wave of imprisonments and exiles of numerous Spanish Krausists who were terminated “for failing to obey these orders and show the obedience they owed the educational authorities” (3). Regardless of the obstacles they encountered in putting their education reform into action, by 1876, the second generation of Spanish Krausists finally initiated their largest project. ILE, the pillar of the Krausist community, became a point of departure for a variety of scientific and pedagogical experiments and an unlimited arena for the realization of the Krausists’ creative inspirations. To foster research and innovation, the thinkers founded an education journal el Bolletin, affiliated with ILE from 1877 through 1956, El Museo Pedagógico de Enseñanza Primaria (Museum of Elementary Education) and later Múseo Pedagógico Nacional (National Pedagogic Museum) in 1882 (Alvarez Lázarro 19-20). These institutions became a visual symbol of their endeavor—physical evidence of the Krausists’ presence in Spanish society—as well as of their dedication to lead the country from inertness toward progress through scientific achievement and to foment social change.

In the meantime, the Krausist scientists were in the process of carrying out their own mission. This Krausist branch was led by González de Linares who was no less ambitious than his maestro Giner de los Ríos. One of González’s merits was the introduction of Darwin’s theory of evolution into Spain’s scientific arena in 1875. The theory was received with enthusiasm in scientific circles but caused González his position at the University of Santiago of Compostela. According to Ruescas, the reason Darwin’s theory received such a warm welcome in a society dominated by religious dogmatism was not on account of the theory’s capacity to explain evolution through natural selection (201). More than anything, the theory’s successful reception was due to the progressive nature of Darwin’s work. Willing to break with the ecclesiastical tradition, Spanish scientists accepted the theory as reasonable and were willing to consider it in their scientific experiments. They also incorporated such experiments in academic curricula across Spain aiming to renovating country’s elementary school level education.

Inspired by positivist traditions in addition to Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, the second generation of Spanish Krausists embarked on a journey to create a Spanish system of the philosophy of Nature to address the Spanish needs of scientific development, thus establishing a new intellectual tradition in their country. This science-oriented generation, led by Giner de los Ríos, leaned toward Schelling’s vision of Nature as “un Organismo autoproductor, en el que el hombre descubre una analogía con el desarrollo de sus gradaciones psíquicas” (a self-producing Organism in which man discovers an analogy with the development of its psychic […] practices) (Simó Ruescas 201). Naturphilosophie appealed to the Spanish Krausists due to their understanding of an intrinsic unity between the organic and inorganic components of reality. During his lifetime, González de Linares continued shaping the Krausist theory of Nature as the framework for scientific advancement. Together with other Krausists, he founded and conducted biological investigations at the first Maritime Station of Zoology and Experimental Biology, inaugurated in the city of Santander in 1886 and affiliated with the University of Valladolid. Also, among the scientists linked to the Spanish Krausism is the figure of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) whose scientific endeavor received recognition from world-wide scientific communities. In 1906, Ramón y Cajal became a Nobel Prize Laureate for his achievements in the field of Neuroscience.[13]

In a comparatively short period of time, 1854-1917, Spanish Krausism became a leading ideological and philosophical force in Spain, standing at the threshold of modernity but facing ignorance and constant regression. This state of affairs was unbearable for the intellectuals who dreamt of Spain becoming one of the leading European nations. The task was challenging and risky in a country torn apart by civil war, loss of empire status, military revolts, political persecution, moral decadence, and economic instability. It is not surprising, then, that the Krausists found both refuge and a solution for Spain’s decay among the ideas of German philosophers Schelling and Krause. The enthusiasm of Sanz del Río was transmitted to a wide circle of intellectuals who supported the vision of the German philosophers. With his publication of Krause’s esthetic lessons translated in Spanish, Sanz’s colleague Giner produced the only text of this type for the Hispanic World (Alvarez Lázarro 56-7), fostering opportunities for future research. Among other twenty volumes of work published posthumously (Jiménez García 136), Giner offered 2 volumes dedicated to the study of Esthetics: Comprendio de Estética (Treaty on Esthetics) and Estudios de Literatura y Arte (Studies on Literature and Art). Due to the Krausists’ tenacious effort, “the introduction of Krausism into Spanish culture led to Spain becoming more open to modern ideas and more aligned with European thinking” (Rubio, xix, xxiii)— an aspiration shared with Spain’s other progressive circles which, on a larger scale, culminated in the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931.

At a preliminary stage, Spanish Krausism adopted the fusion of the system of Identity by Schelling and Krause’s theory of panentheism as a departure point for the development of their philosophical movement. They later strove to bring theory into practice and successfully directed their efforts at compiling a proper plan to implement a new modern system of education based on scientific experimentations but not excluding religious studies. The variety of the established instructional and research institutions signaled a step towards a more progressive system of education that would allow individuals to explore and realize their potential through a harmonic exposure to nature and science, premised on self-reflection. They developed and implemented pedagogical strategies with experiential learning as a starting point where an individual’s success was not seen as predetermined by extrinsic factors, but rather open for advancement towards the Absolute Being by the execution of free will and pursuit of knowledge. Convinced of the transformational power of comprehensive education, Spanish Krausist aspired to form a new generation of individuals who would freely carry out their civic duty of promoting a better future for Spain in particular, and humanity at large.

Motivated by this advancement and subsequent government funding for scientific labor, the Krausists continued their initiative to bring Spain’s intellectual production and rigid social hierarchization out of stagnation. By introducing secular, inclusive, and tuition-free models to the existing educational system, education in Spain became more assessible to the general public and appreciated by it. Consequently, the impact of Spanish Krausism not only extended into the socio-political and ideological systems of the country, but also gave root to other progressive trends and search for liberties, which include Spanish women’s movement for gender equality during the 1920s and 30s. Such movements for social justice unfolded into new legislative measures adopted by the Second Republic, among which there was suffrage for the female population and a divorce law. Lastly, the Krausists’ inspiration and achievements left an indisputable legacy in Spanish intellectual history and the sphere of education. It gifted Spain several generations of groundbreaking thinkers such as Manuel Bartolomé Cossio, Joaquín Costa, Manuel and Antonio Machado, Leopoldo Alas Clarín, Azorín, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and José Ortega y Gasset.

  1. The title of González de Linares’ essay resonates with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling's First Plan of a System of the Philosophy of Nature (Erster Entwurf eines System der Naturphilosophie) (1799). However, Schelling did not become the namesake of the movement in Spain, as it bears the nomenclature of one of his students: Karl Christian Friedrich Krause.

  2. We should differentiate panentheism from pantheism which, as Michael P. Levine underscores, is “the view that (1) ‘God is everything and everything is God…the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature’ (H.P.Owen). […] A slightly more specific definition is given by Owen who says (3) ‘‘Pantheism’…signifies the belief that every existing entity is, only one Being; and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it’” (Levine 1).

  3. In Schelling’s study on Naturphilosophie, he explored the idea of Nature as an “eternal becoming,” an absolute and auto-productive force where “all things mutually bear and support each other” (First Outline xix, xx).

  4. Ampáro Gómez emphasizes Spain’s “deplorable condition of science and scientific training,” by citing a Spanish chemist José Rodríguez Carracido who stated that, by the end of the 19th century, they “had only a chair for the oral presentation of the lectures in biological chemistry, and were totally lacking any working instruments, nor only for students’ practical tasks, but also for testing the most simple phenomena” (“The ‘Social Contract’ for Spanish Science before the Civil War” in Science Policies, p. 36)

  5. In Culturas de España, Carmen Pereira-Muro points out that Spain witnessed industrialization mostly in Catalonia and the Basque Country due to the textile industry and the metallurgy respectively. The appearance of railroads arrived at the Iberian nation decades later than to other European countries, particularly Germany, Great Britain, and France. The urbanization was limited mainly to Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid where growing workers’ movement evinced social inequality and oppression (180). In a similar fashion, Spain’s “intellectual backwardness” in comparison to other European countries—as described by Ruperto Navarro Zamorano, 19th century Spanish jurist—was due to “a lack of strong leadership in the field of philosophy, a discipline he considered key to the Iberian nation’s intellectual future.” Navarro Zamorano as a representative of the forward-thinking intellectual elite considered “an infusion of current European ideologies” to be a remedy to such inadequacy (cited by Christian Rubio 3).

  6. For more information on the influence of Spanish Krausism in art and its impact on women, see Krausism and the Spanish Avant-Guard by C. Rubio. In Mujeres y educación en la España contemporánea, Raquel Vázquez Ramil offers an exhaustive account of Spanish Krausism’s impact on women’s education through the establishment of la Institución Libre de Enseñanza and la Residencia de Señoritas de Madrid.

  7. As Jiménez García observes, Giner’s pedagogical methods “crashed tremendously with the mimetismo of the traditional teaching” (“chocaban tremendamente con el mimetismo de la enseñanza tradicional”). Among other features, the existing system limited itself to “rigid plans, autocracies, texts, barriers, degrees and titles” (planes rígidos, burocracias, textos, barreras, grados y títulos). P. 150.

  8. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the State began to organize intellectual exchange programs, study grants, expansion of laboratories, co-ed student dorms, regular updates in teacher training, and other activities. After Francisco Franco came to power in 1939, such activities were frozen, and after his death in 1975, some of the schools and colleges reopened and continued to offer education following Giner de los Ríos’ pedagogical approach (Ruiz Berrio 10).

  9. All translations from Spanish language sources were completed by the author.

  10. Cited from Sanz del Río’s “Discurso pronunciado en la Universidad Central. Inauguración del año académico de 1857 a 1858” by Miguel Castillejo Gorraiz, El fundador del krausismo. Etapa andaluza, p.102.

  11. Jiménez García highlights that for Giner, the aim of an educator is to help students in establishing their individual character freely, without imposing on them a “mechanical and memory-based system” that intends to “instruct the child with a series of accumulative knowledge” (152).

  12. Also known as the Glorious Revolution, the Revolution of 1868 was a military coup-di état against Isabella II’s monarchy. It stemmed from a growing disapproval of the queen due to economic and political strife and lack of leadership within the government.

  13. For more information, see