Obituary: Juan David Garcia Bacca

Juan David Garcia Bacca, philosopher, born Pamplona 26 June 1901, died Quito Ecuador 5 August 1992.

IN THE LIMITED means of reference at my disposal during the vacation period, it was impossible to discover much about the venerable Spanish philosopher Garcia Bacca, who died on 5 August at the age of 91 in Quito, Ecuador. He does not appear in the Pleiade Historia de la Filsofia and he is not in the leading French, Spanish and English encyclopaedias. Even more surprising, he is not even mentioned in the Gran Enciclopedia Catalana published by the Generalitat de Catalunya in Barcelona in 1970 - but that was while Franco was still in power. As far as I could find out, Bacca's death was ignored by the European press, still in an effervescence of sports hysteria, with the honourable exception of El Pais, which belatedly devoted a whole page to him, including almost a whole column of the complete bibliography of his works in its issue of 13 August. The headline was: 'Death of Garcia Bacca, a Great Philosopher Forgotten in Spain'.

When one studies this substantial bibliography of Bacca's works, extending from 1936 with an Introduction to Modern Logic to a work on Don Quijote de la Mancha in 1991, one is astonished that he should be so little known in his native land.

Garcia Bacca was born in Pamplona in 1901. He was educated by the Claretines, an order he belonged to until the early Thirties. From 1928 he had begun working on mathematics, philosophy and biology at various European universities, before returning to take his doctorate at Barcelona with an Essay on the Logico-Genetic Structure of the Physical Sciences. He began teaching at the University of Barcelona, for the first time introducing Spanish students to mathematical logic. In June 1936, he abandoned the prospect of a chair at Santiago de Compostela with the outbreak of the Civil War, which forced him into exile in Latin America, along with such notable figures as Jorge Semprun, Arturo Barea and his near contemporaries Luis Carnuda and Rafael Alberti. He taught for many years at the universities of Mexico, Quito and Caracas.

Garcia Bacca's philosophical preoccupations included literature, with special reference to the decadent poet Antonio Machado in Invitacion a filosofar segun espiritu y letra de Antonio Machado (1984). In 1985 he produced a literary-philosophical study, Necesidad y azar ('Necessity and Chance'), on two other of his favourite authors, Parmenides and Mallarme: the title refers to the French poet's Un coup de des n'abolira jamais le hazard (1897). But Bacca's major works were translations of classical authors like Plotinus and Lucretius, and Newton. He translated the complete works of Plato in 12 volumes, which he presented to Queen Sofia when he had an audience with her in 1985. After the fall of Franco, he received many honours, including the Gold Medal of the University of Barcelona in 1985. The extraordinary breadth of his scientific, philosophical and literary interests also embraced music, the subject of one of his last great works, Filosofia de la musica (1990).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot