Spain's top philosopher forced into retirement

November 13, 1998

Philosophy students at the University of Oviedo, northern Spain, are on strike in protest at the forced retirement of one of the their best-known professors.

Gustavo Bueno, 74, described by Complutense University, Madrid philosopher Gabriel Albiac as "this country's most important thinker" has fallen foul of Oviedo's new internal regulations, limiting emeritus professorships to four years.

Under his new designation of honorary emeritus Professor Bueno loses his salary. He can keep his office and teach but his classes have limited official status.

Julio Rodr!guez, rector of the university, said the move was made for financial reasons and to allow younger academics to progress. But the protesting students say that no new appointment has been made in the philosophy faculty and that Professor Bueno's classes have been divided between staff. They believe that his removal is for ideological and political reasons.

A veteran Marxist, he has come under fire from Asturian nationalists and some socialists for his opposition to running courses in bable, the Asturian dialect, arguing that this will eventually lead to the dialect's recognition as an official language.

Professor Rodr!guez denies that bable is the reason for the professor's departure. Professor Bueno has blamed the bureaucratic party in the university and added: "I am not myself obsessed with continuing at the university, but the students have asked me to do so." Students have flocked to his unofficial classes delivered on the faculty stairway.

Professor Albiac wrote ironically last week in the Spanish daily, El Mundo that: "To be intelligent and not conceal the fact is a crime that is difficult to excuse. This intelligence conflicts with the most inept of Spanish institutions - the university.

Professor Rodr!guez says that university regulations do not require students to attend classes, but warns that they will be required to take the examinations at the end of courses.

Socialist Party leaders in Rioja, Professor Bueno's native region, have called on the University of Rioja to offer him an emeritus chair. Rector Urbano Espinosa, is in favour in principle, subject to economic and academic needs.

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