An excerpt from Jose Ortega y Gasset's The Self and the Other:
Far from thought having been bestowed upon man, the truth is - a truth which I cannot now properly argue but can only state - that he has continually been creating thought, making it little by little, by dint of a discipline, a culture or cultivation, a millennial effort over many millennia, without having yet succeeded - far from it - in finishing his work. Not only was thought not given to man from the first, but even at this point in history he has only succeeded in forming a small portion and a crude form of what in the simple and ordinary sense of the word we call thought. And even the small portion gained being an acquired and not a constitutive quality, is always in danger of being lost, and considerable quantities of it have been lost, many times in fact, in the past, and today we are on the point of losing it again. To this extent, unlike all the other being in the universe, man is never surely man; on the contrary, being man signifies precisely being always on the point of not being man, being a living problem, an absolute hazardous adventure, or, as I am wont to say: being, in essence, drama! Because there is drama only when we do not know what is going to happen, so that every instant is pure peril and shuddering risk. While the tiger cannot cease being a tiger, cannot be detigered, man lives in the perpetual risk of being dehumanized. With him, not only is it problematic and contingent, whether this or that will happen to him, as it is with the other animals, but at time what happens to man is nothing less than ceasing to be man [whether he will or will not happen to existence and in what way]. And this is true not only abstractly and generically but it holds for our own individuality. Each one of us is always in peril of not being the unique and untransferable self which he [or she] is. The majority of men [and women] perpetually betray this self which is waiting to be; and to tell the whole truth our personal individuality is a personage which is never completely realized. A stimulating Utopia, a secret legend, which each of us guards in the bottom of his heart. It is thoroughly comprehensible that Pindar resumed his heroic ethics in the well-known imperative: "Become what you are."
The condition of man, then, is essential uncertainty. Hence the cogency of the gracefully mannered mot of a fifteenth century Burgundian gentleman: "Rien ne m'es sure que la chose incertaine." "I am sure of nought save the uncertain." 
No human acquisition is stable. Even what appears to us most completely won and consolidated can disappear in a few generations. The thing we call "civilization" - all these physical and moral comforts, all these conveniences, all these shelters, all these virtues and disciplines which have become habit now, on which we count, and which in effect constitute a repertory or system of securities which man made for himself like a raft in the initial shipwreck which living always is - all these securities are insecure securities which in the twinkling of an eye, at the least carelessness, escape from man's hands and vanish like phantoms. History tells us of innumerable retrogressions, of decadences and degenerations. But nothing tells us that there is no possibility of much more basic retrogressions than any so far known, including the most basic of them all: the total disappearance of man as man and his silent return to the animal scale, to complete and definitive absorption in the other. The fate of culture, the destiny of man, depends upon our maintaining that dramatic consciousness ever alive in our inmost being, and upon our feeling, like a murmuring counterpoint in our entrails, that we are only sure of insecurity.
[Here I would like to interject the words of a woman, Helen Keller: 
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.]
No small part of the anguish which is today tormenting the soul of the West derives from the fact that during the past century - and perhaps for the first time in history - man reached the point of believing himself secure. Because the truth is that the one and only thing he succeeded in doing was to feel and create the pharmaceutical Monsieur Homais, the net result of progressivism!  The progressivist idea consists in affirming not only that humanity - an abstract, irresponsible, non-existent entity invented for the occasion - that humanity progresses, which is certain, but furthermore that it progresses necessarily. This idea anaesthetized the European and the American to that basic feeling of risk which is the substance of man. Because if humanity inevitably progresses, that is almost saying that we can abandon all watchfulness, stop worrying, throw off all responsibility, or as we say in Spain, "snore away" and let humanity bear us inevitably to perfection and pleasure. Human history thus loses all the sinew of drama and is reduced to a peaceful tourist trip, organized by some transcendent "Cook's". Traveling thus securely toward its fulfillment, the civilization in which we are embarked would be like that Phaeacian ship in Homer which sailed straight to port without a pilot [though to assign a single pilot would be, and has been, just as devastating]. This security is what we are now paying for. That, gentlemen, is one of the reasons why I told you that I am not a progressivist. That is why I  prefer to renew in myself, at frequent intervals, the emotion aroused in my youth by Hegel's words at the beginning of his Philosophy of History: "When we contemplate the past, that is, history," he says "the first thing we see is nothing but - ruins."
Let us, in passing, seize the opportunity to see, from the elevation of this vision, the element of frivolousness, and even of marked vulgarity, in Nietzsche's famous imperative: "Live dangerously." (Which, furthermore, is not Nietzsche's but the exaggeration of an old Italian Renaissance motto, which Nietzsche, I believe, must have known through Burckhardt. The Italians of today, especially the super-Italians of today, nevertheless go about shouting Nietzsche's motto. Because it is characteristic of the contemporary supernationalist to be ignorant of his nation, of the rich past of his nation. Otherwise, instead of taking Nietzsche's version, the Italians could have learned, directly from Ariosto, a motto which is different and the same: Vivere risolutamente.) Because he does not say "Live alertly," which would have been good; but, "Live dangerously." And this shows that Nietzsche, despite his genius, did not know that the very substance of our life is danger and that hence it is rather affected - not to say trying to hard for an effect - to propose us as something new, added and original that we should seek and collect danger. And idea, furthermore, which is typical of the period which called itself "fin de siecle," and which will be known in history - it culminated about 1900 - as the period in which man felt himself most secure and, at the same time, as the epoch - with its stiff shirts and frock-coats, its femme fatales, its affectation of perverseness, and its Barresian cult of the "I" - of shoddy vulgarity par excellence. In every period there are ideas which I would call "fishing" ideas, ideas which are expressed and proclaimed precisely because it is known that they will not come to pass; which are thought of only as a game, as foolishness - some years ago, for example, there was a rage in England for wolf stories, because England is a country where the last wolf was killed in 1663 and hence has no authentic experience of wolves. In a period which has no strong experience of insecurity, like the fin de siecle period, they play at the dangerous life.
Enough of all this - thought is not a gift to man but a laborious, precarious and volatile acquisition.
With this idea in mind, you will understand that I see an element of absurdity in the definition of man put forth by Linnaeus and the eighteenth century: homo sapiens. Because if we take this expression in good faith, it can mean only that man, in effect, knows - in other words, that he knows all that he needs to know. Now nothing is further from the reality. Man has never known what he needed to know. But if we understand homo sapiens in the sense that man knows some things, a very few things, but does not know the remainder, it would seem to me more appropriate to define him as homo insciens, insipiens, as man the un-knowing. And certainly, if we were not now in such a hurry, we could see the good judgment with which Plato defines man precisely by his ignorance. Ignorance is, in fact, man's privilege. Neither God nor beast is ignorant - the former because he possesses all knowledge, the latter because he needs none. 
It is clear, then, that man does not exercise his thought because he finds it amusing, but because, obliged as he is to live submerged in the world and to force his way among things, he finds himself under the necessity of organizing his psychic activities, which are not very different from those of the anthropoid, in the form of thought - which is what the animal does not do.
Man, then, rather than by what he is, than by what he has, escapes from the zoological scale by what he does, by his conduct. Hence it is that he must always be watchful of himself. 
This is something of what I should like to suggest in the phrase (which appears to be but a phrase) that we do not live in order to think but that we think in order to succeed in subsisting or surviving. And you see how this attributing thought to man as an innate quality - which at first seems to be a homage and even a compliment to our species - is, strictly speaking, an injustice. Because there is no such gift, no such gratuity; thought, on the contrary, is a laborious fabrication and a conquest which, like every conquest, be it of a city or of a [person], is always unstable and fugitive.
This consideration of thought was necessary as an aid to understanding my earlier statement that man is primarily and fundamentally action. In passing, let us do homage to the first man who arrived at this truth with such clarity; it was not Kant or Fichte, it was that inspired madman Auguste Comte.
We saw that action is not a random fisticuffs with the things around us or with our fellow men: that is the infrahuman, that is subjection to the other. Action is to act upon the material environment or upon other men in accordance with a plan conceived [or perceived] in a previous period of contemplation or thought. There is then, no authentic action if there is no thought, and there is no authentic thought if it is not duly referred to action and made virile by its relation to action. 
But this relation - which is the true one - between action and contemplation has been persistently misunderstood. When the Greeks discovered that man thought, that there existed in the universe that strange reality known as thought (until then man had not thought, or, like the bourgeois gentilhomme, had done so without knowing it), they felt such an enthusiasm for ideas that they conferred upon intelligence, upon the logos, the supreme rank in the universe. Compared with it, everything else seemed to them ancillary and contemptible. And as we tend to project into God what ever appears to us to be the best, the Greeks, with Aristotle, reached the point of maintaining that God had no other occupation but to think. And not even to think about things - that seemed to them, as it were, a debasement of the intellectual process. No, according to Aristotle, God does nothing but think about thought - which is to convert God into an intellectual, or, more precisely, into a modest professor of philosophy. - But I  repeat that, for them, this was the most sublime thing in the world and the most sublime thing which a being could do. Hence they believe that man's destiny was solely to exercise his intellect, that man had come into the world to meditate, or, in our terminology, to take a stand within himself (ensimismarse).
This doctrine has been given the name "intellectualism"; it is an idolatry of the intelligence which isolates thought from its setting, from its function in the general economy of human life. As if man thinks because he thinks, and not because, whether he will or not, he has to think in order to maintain himself among things! As if thought could awaken and function of its own motion, as if it began and ended in itself, and were not - as is the true state of the case - engendered by action and having its roots and its end in action! We owe innumerable things of the highest value to the Greeks, but they have put chains on us too. The man of the West still lives, to no small degree, enslaved by the preferences of the men of Greece - preferences which, operating in the subsoil of our culture, have for eight centuries turned us from our proper and authentic Occidental vocation. The heaviest of these chains is "intellectualism"; and now, when it is imperative that we change our course and take a new road, in short, get on the right track - it is of the greatest importance that we resolutely rid ourselves of this archaic attitude, which has been carried to its extreme during these last two centuries. 
And from Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed:
I shall start [Chapter 4] by reaffirming that men, as beings of the praxis, differ from animals, which are beings of pure activity. Animals do not consider the world; they are immersed in it. In contrast, men emerge from the world, objectify it, and in so doing can understand and transform it with their labor.
Animals, which do not labor, live in a setting which they cannot transcend. Hence, each animal species lives in the context appropriate to it, and these contexts, while open to men, cannot communicate among themselves.
But men's activity consists of action and reflection: it is praxis; it is transformation of the world [rather, I would say, that the world is in an interminable state of transformation; men's proper activity consists in being a steward for its authenticity and proper "naming"]. And as praxis, it requires theory to illuminate it. Men's activity is theory and practice; it is reflection and action. It cannot, as I stressed in Chapter 2, be reduced to either verbalism or activism.
Lenin's famous statement: "Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement" means that a revolution is achieved with neither verbalism nor activism, but rather with praxis, that is, with reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed. The revolutionary effort to transform these structures radically cannot designate its leaders as its thinkers and the oppressed as mere doers.
If true commitment to the people, involving the transformation of the reality by which they are oppressed, requires a theory of transforming action, this theory cannot fail to assign the people a fundamental role in the transformation process. The leaders cannot treat the oppressed as mere activists to be denied the opportunity of reflection and allowed merely the illusion of acting, whereas in fact they would continue to be manipulated - and in this case by the presumed foes of manipulation.
The leaders to bear the responsibility for co-ordination - and, at times, direction - but leaders who deny praxis to the oppressed thereby invalidate their own praxis. By imposing their word on others, they falsify that word and establish a contradiction between their methods and their objectives. if they are truly committed to liberation, their action and reflection cannot proceed without the action and reflection of others. 
Revolutionary praxis must stand opposed to the praxis of the dominant elites, for they are by nature antithetical. Revolutionary praxis cannot tolerate an absurd dichotomy in which the praxis of the people is merely that of following the leaders' decisions - a dichotomy reflecting the prescriptive methods of the dominant elites. Revolutionary praxis is a unity, and the leaders cannot treat the oppressed as their possession.
Manipulation, sloganizing, "depositing," regimentation, and prescription cannot be components of revolutionary praxis, precisely because they are components of the praxis of domination. In order to dominate, the dominator has no choice but to deny true praxis to the people, deny them the right to say their own word and think their own thoughts. He cannot act dialogically; for him to do so would mean either that he had relinquished his power to dominate and joined the cause of the oppressed, or that he had lost that power through miscalculation.
Obversely, revolutionary leaders who do not act dialogically in their relations with the people either have retained characteristics of the dominator and are not truly revolutionary; or they are totally misguided in their conception [perception] of their role, and, prisoners of their own sectarianism, are equally non-revolutionary. They may even reach power. But the validity of any revolution resulting from anti-dialogical action is thoroughly doubtful.

Alright, I gotta go to work but I may resume later with a response.

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