In South America, sociological practices were largely introduced by Puerto Rican Eugenio María de Hostos (1839-1903). As an innate independentist, Hostos dedicated his life to studying philosophy and sociology in order to gain independence for the South American continent. An historical and memorial walk will be held in honor of Eugenio Mara de Hostos, also called “the citizen of America”. Would you like to read it with us?

Eugenio Mara de Hostos biography

The index

  • Puerto Rican pride

  • Krausian model and Eugenio Mara de Hostos

  • Puerto Rico’s return

  • An overview of the literary works of Eugenio Mara de Hostos

  • Humanism’s eternal legacy

Puerto Rican with pride

His birth took place on January 11, 1839 in the picturesque and warm city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. His name honors his father, Eugenio Hostos, who served English royalty as a Puerto Rican diplomat in the 19th century. He hauled his education from Puerto Rico to Spain because of his father’s wealth.

As part of his father’s job assignment, Hostos moved with his family to Bilbao in 1851. Eugenio Mara de Hostos attended secondary school at Bilbao Secondary Education Institute while there. Having grown up in a very different city from Mayagüez, Hostos developed an early interest in the social sciences and cultural history topics.

As a result of his father’s work, Hostos briefly returned to Puerto Rico after spending several years in Spain. In 1858, he returned to Europe and enrolled at the Central University of Madrid to study law. The German Karl Krause taught Hostos philosophy and literature as well as sociology, despite the fact that he did not complete his degree.

Krausian model and Eugenio Mara de Hostos

Eugenio María de Hostos’ taste in academic subjects was always exceptional. He stood out for his ingenuity and his opinions regarding the social evolution of the time while he was a university student. Thus, it was not a coincidence that he was drawn to the postulates of Karl Krause, a philosopher who represented a fundamental change in social sciences for the 19th century.


A forerunner of the panentheistic movement was Karl Krause. According to panentheism, God is the vital energy of the universe. Krause attempted to differentiate himself from pantheistic or pandeistic doctrines which placed God solely in the realm of nature.

From this first socio-political approach, Eugenio Mar*a de Hostos began to establish himself not just as a citizen, but also as a politician. As a member of social groups in Spain, Hostos advocated citizen autonomy and nationalism. This would mark the beginning of the Puerto Rican revolution.

Puerto Rico’s return

After the death of his mother in 1862, Eugenio María de Hostos returned to Puerto Rico. As a result of spending so much time away from his country, Hostos was able to see the social conflicts his country was going through from a broader perspective. As a result, Hostos accurately pursued his political path by settling Puerto Rico and Cuba’s independence causes.

Hostos and a group of Spanish-American intellectuals and independentistas formed the Independent Antillean Federation in the following years. Throughout South America, this project sought to spread sovereign ideals. His constant travels across America and his emphatic support of freedom and citizen rights earned him the title of “citizen of America”.

The writings of Eugenio Mara de Hostos

Although Hostos’ career was focused on politics, he was also a noted writer and essayist. His most well-known work is La peregrinación de Bayoán, in which he makes very clear his independence thoughts and the urgency of a continent free from foreign invasions.


Eugenio María de Hostos was also a brilliant creator and entrepreneur. He founded the independence newspaper La Revolución in his early days as a defender of Cuban and Puerto Rican independence. Likewise, he was a promoter of the railway that would connect Chile and Argentina due to his travels across the continent.

Eugenio Mara de Hostos focused his writing, for the year 1873, on the matriarchal figure of women in colonial times with The Scientific Education of Women, despite his interest in the society of the continent. Through positivist and Krausian currents, Hostos remained true to his sociological profile throughout his subsequent essays: Moral Social and Cartas Publicas sobre Cuba.

A legacy of humanism that endures

In addition to politics, Eugenio Mara de Hostos was also passionate and dedicated to education. Hostos left his mark throughout South America, becoming rector of Puerto Cabello National College in Venezuela during his travels. Likewise, he founded the first normal school in Santo Domingo in 1880, where the Dominican Republic’s finest educators were trained.

His death occurred in the city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on August 11, 1903. His death away from Puerto Rico was due to the country’s refusal to recognize his revolutionary ideals. In spite of this, Hostos is remembered as one of the most important pioneers of sociology in South America and a man dedicated to empowering the continent in the educational and political spheres.

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