José Luis Villacañas

Throughout the Reformation Year 2017, this site offers trendsetters and thought leaders a place to present their notions of change and innovation. What are the potentials and needs for current and future-oriented “reformations”?

Eleven theses on the timeliness of the spirit of the Reformation

  1. Spain was founded on an enmity to the Reformation, which has determined its sensitivities and attitude.
  2. A mentality should be encouraged in the Spanish that is more inclined to guide than to block historical changes.
  3. We must change the intellectual attitude which Kant already denounced as a bad conception of tradition. We must reform the reluctance to reform.
  4. It is necessary to avoid intellectual inertia, which prevents future changes from being anticipated and the condition of temporality from being accepted. 
  5. This historical syndrome manifests itself in alarming symptoms of insecurity, dramatic assertions, the tendency to theatricality, the incapacity to gain distance and a desperate search for self-assurance in homogeneity. 
  6. All this makes the road to a more democratic society more difficult.
  7. Philosophy must impart to Spanish society a critical sense of responsibility, and in this way strengthen the citizen’s ability to reflect.
  8. At the forefront should be not only those philosophies which are remote from everyday life and addressed only to virtuosos of speculation in closed societies for specialists. 
  9. Such positions are self-referential and shut themselves off to conversations that could open perspectives which give orientation in actual life.
  10. To surmount self-referentiality: to seek confrontation with other disciplines, even if the initial obstacles are formidable.
  11. The most difficult thing: to find your own way into open dialogue. To practice a philosophy that is useful to a democratic society and adheres to its normative standards.


José Luis Villacañas Berlanga (born in Úbeda-Jaén in 1955) is a philosopher, historian and writer. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the philosophy of Kant in 1981 at the University of Valencia. He has been a professor at several universities and research institutions in Spain: from 1977 to 1986 at the University of Valencia; from 1986 to 2009 at the University of Murcia; and from 1994 to 1997 at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council).

Since 2009 he has been the director of the Department of the History of Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid. His research focuses on contemporary German philosophy (Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Reinhardt Koselleck and Hans Blumenberg).

His most recent major publications are Poder y Conflicto. Un ensayo sobre Carl Schmitt (Madrid, 2008); Dificultades con la Ilustración. Ensayos kantianos (Madrid, 2012), Historia del poder político en España (Barcelona, 2014), and Teología política imperial y comunidad de salvación cristiana (Madrid, 2016), the second volume of which, Imperio, reforma y modernidad, will soon be published and consists in an analysis, in dialogue with Weber and Blumenberg, of the emergence of modern thought in the time of the Emperor Charles V.