July 30, 2010


Systematic reductions to single terms (pleasure and pain, self-interest, economics, sex, etc.) fabricate likenesses of intelligibility that seduce the ignorant.

Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 264


  1. The original Spanish is:

    Las reducciones sistemáticas a términos únicos (placer y dolor, interés, economía, sexo, etc.) fabrican simulacros de la inteligibilidad que seducen al ignorante.

  2. In Textos I (1959), pp. 115-135, Gómez Dávila devotes a somewhat lengthy essay to a discussion of time and epistemology, philosophies of history, and the Catholic Church's role in his own philosophy of history. In this essay, Gómez Dávila states that the many philosophies of history can be reduced to three basic schemes: providentialism, progressivism, and reductionism. He describes reductionism in the following way:

    "The third basic scheme, finally, consists of the reduction of the totality of events to a single historical factor, [or] to a single group of factors. Whether the chosen factor is the sexual instinct, the ethnic composition [of a people] or any social behavior whatsoever, reductionist history sacrifices historical fullness for the comfort of its own artificial and coherent scheme. As the selected factor is always universal, its undeniable presence marks it out as a determining factor, if it was previously convenient to reduce all other factors to being mere functions of the [one] favorite factor. Reductionist history imposes on every fact, without distinction, a uniform, monotonous, and ever handy scheme whose partially plausible validity is improperly extended into a certain situation, to any situation whatsoever. Whoever accepts the systematic predominance of a single factor, simultaneously finds his thesis confirmed by every historical instance; all history is abridged into a paradigmatic structure that is outside time and indifferent to history.

    "Reductionist history abolishes history, enthroning in its place an abstract law that volatilizes it into a mere series of nugatory examples."

    --Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Textos I (Bogotá: Villegas Editores, 2002), pp. 122-123.