Concerning the Publication Dates of Ferrater Mora's Books
Books are listed in the various sections of this site with the date of their first publication. Detailed information about subsequent editions can be found in the Bibliography.
It is somewhat misleading to list the books in this manner because Ferrater Mora constantly revised, and often augmented, subsequent editions, sometimes revising and changing a text so much that it was, in fact, a new book to which he gave a new name.
Consider, for example, El ser y la muerte. In the 1988 edition of this book, Ferrater notes that the first edition dates from 1962 which was, in turn, a re-elaboration of a book that appeared in 1947 with the title El sentido de la muerte. To further complicate matter, Ferrater explains in the preface to Being and Death that the latter is “basically a translation of a work I originally published in Spanish in 1962.” He then adds, however, that “it is not a mere duplicate in another tongue” since he has “revised the text throughout,” “added a number of paragraphs on some crucial points,” “entirely rewritten half a dozen sections” and “in many cases, changed the order of presentation.” Still claiming that it is “fundamentally a translation” he adds that “Indeed, if a new Spanish edition of the book is produced, I will probably rewrite large portions of it in accordance with the present English text.” Thus, Ferrater gives a book a new title if the changes are great enough but even a book with the same title may change quite a bit from edition to edition as Ferrater perfects his expression and brings his thought up to date.
Several other examples illustrate Ferrater’s habit of constant revision. Ferrater explained that he revised and added so much new material to El ser y el sentido, published in 1967 that it became a new book which appeared in 1985 under the name Fundamentos de filosofia. Another book that was constantly revised and that also underwent a change of name was Ferrater’s popular La filosofia en el mundo de hoy first published in 1959. This book that grew out of a series of lectures that he gave in Princeton in 1957-58. An English version, Philosophy Today: Conflicting Tendencies in Contemporary Thought was published in 1960, a Catalan version, La filosofía en el món d’avui in 1965. The second Spanish edition was published in 1963 and the third edition in 1967 in Ferrater’s Obras selectas. A revision of the third edition of La filosofia en el mundo de hoy was published in 1969 as La filosofia actual. A second edition of this book was published in 1970, a third edition in 1973 and a fourth in 1982. On the other hand, Las palabras y los hombres, first published in 1971 and then revised and augmented in 1991, retained the same name. Whether or not the name changes, one can rest assured that a book published by Ferrater is frequently rewritten, modified and revised.
Nothing illustrates Ferrater’s tendency to augment his work better than the various editions of the Dictionary (Diccionario de filosofía). The original Dictionary of Philosophy was published in 1941 and contained 598 pages. By the 6th edition of 1979 this work had increased to 3,589 pages in four volumes.
Recognizing this tendency to rewrite his books, Ferrater explained that he was merely trying to improve them. He was, he said, unable to resist the temptation to produce the best book possible and to that end, he was ruthless in his elimination of any rhetorical phrases, and tireless in refining his concepts and sharpening his thought. Clearly the date of first publication tells us only the “start of the story.”