Mexican Writer and Philosopher Antonio Caso Andrade

Antonio Caso's intellectual life was devoted to philosophy in his extensive written work and in the teaching of several generations who recognized him as the master par excellence.

Mexican Writer and Philosopher Antonio Caso Andrade
Portrait of Antonio Caso. Photo: INAH

Antonio Caso Andrade was a Mexican professor, philosopher, lawyer, and writer who stood out for his great intellectual work, his contribution to Mexican literature, as well as to the country's higher education in the first half of the last century.

He was born on December 19, 1883, in Mexico City. Like José Vasconcelos, Antonio Caso studied high school at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria and, in 1908, received his law degree from the National School of Jurisprudence.

Two years before finishing his undergraduate studies, together with the Enríquez Hureña brothers, Jesús Acevedo, Ricardo Gómez Robelo, Roberto Argüelles, and others, he founded the magazine Savia Moderna, which was published for one year and was the forerunner of the club of young Mexican intellectuals at the beginning of the last century, known as "Ateneo de la Juventud", in which also participated personalities such as José Vasconcelos and Alfonso Reyes.

The cultural and educational work proposed in the Ateneo led some of its members, among them Antonio Caso, to found the Popular University in 1912 -amid the armed conflict- to disseminate and promote education and culture among the Mexican proletariat.

From his youth, Antonio Caso manifested his passion for teaching. He taught ethics, logic, philosophy, sociology, and history at the National Preparatory School, the National School of Jurisprudence (from where he graduated), and the School of Higher Studies, all of them belonging to the National University.

His academic career led him to be secretary of the latter institution in 1910, as well as director of the National Preparatory School five years later; he was rector of the highest house of studies from 1920 to 1923 and director of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters on several occasions.

His passion for philosophy and the currents of thought that were born and developed in his time led him to lecture on them inside the classroom for approximately three decades.  He addressed, among others, Spengler's theses, Husserl's phenomenology, Dilthey's historicism and existentialism, Bergson's philosophical intuitionism, and Maritain's neotomism.

His thought and work were synthesized in the following writings: Philosophers and Moral Doctrines (1915); Existence as Economy, Disinterestedness, and Charity (1919); Speeches to the Mexican Nation (1922); The Problem of Mexico and National Ideology (1924); Principles of Aesthetics (1925); History and Anthology of Philosophical Thought (1926); Sociology (1927); New Discourses to the Mexican Nation (1931); Positivism, Neopositivism and Phenomenology (1941) and The Human Person and the Totalitarian State (1941).

For his intense academic and intellectual activity, Antonio Caso received honorary doctorates from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the University of San Marcos de Lima in Peru, and the University of Havana in Cuba. He also received the Palmas Académicas award from France and the Goethe Für Kunst und Wissenschaft medal from Germany. In May 1943, he was a founding member of the Colegio Nacional.

Antonio Caso died in Mexico City on March 6, 1946; his remains rest in the Memorial of Illustrious Persons.