Gastón Soublette Recognized with the 2023 National Award for Humanities and Social Sciences
The Chilean intellectual, who taught for 47 years at Universidad Católica and served as the director of the university’s Institute of Aesthetics in the 1980s, received this distinction for his contributions to critical thinking and cultural dissemination. His legacy extends from the exploration of Chilean popular folklore to his studies in eastern philosophy, which have enriched reflection from a humanistic perspective.
"Today we live in social chaos and with the growing threat of climate change, which for some countries is not just a threat but an actual disaster. We used to live our lives knowing that there were wars and rival superpowers, huge clusters of people struggling to live, and yet none of this was questioned, for we were all still blinded by the myth of progress. We still have time to reflect, to face what is to come with a good conscience that protects us and frees us from the dangers of an all-encompassing crisis. As it is popularly said ‘you still have time to open your eyes if you don't want someone else to open them for you’,“ wrote Gastón Soublette in one of his most recent publications with Ediciones UC,Manifesto. Peligros y oportunidades de la megacrisis [Manifesto. Dangers and Opportunities of Megacrisis], published in 2022.
Today, at the age of 96, the Antofagasta-born philosopher, musicologist, and researcher received the highest distinction in his field, winning the National Humanities and Social Sciences Award 2023. Soublette, who devoted 47 years to teaching at UC Chile and was the director of the university’s Institute of Aesthetics in the 1980s, was acknowledged by the Chilean government as one of its most brilliant intellects.
"Gastón Soublette’s research and teaching in the field of humanities have a scope and diversity that stand out as remarkable in the annals of this university's history. He has taught in the Faculty of Philosophy, the Institute of Aesthetics, and the Faculty of Theology, with very good results for his students, who attend his courses in large numbers, attracted by the originality of his proposals and methodological rigor," said University President Ignacio Sánchez, following the news of this award.
After studying Law at Universidad de Chile, and Music and Musicology at the Paris Conservatory, the twists and turns of life and that implicit curiosity of contemporary humanism led Soublette to approach different personalities, creators, and lines of research. He developed an extensive body of work throughout his career, addressing a variety of topics including history, art theory, Eastern philosophical thought, literature, film, musicology, and traditional Chilean folk culture. This work is reflected in his in-depth conversations with prominent figures such as Violeta Parra, Margot Loyola, Héctor Pavez, and Gabriela Pizarro, as well as in his lectures at UC Chile and in his numerous literary publications.
Among these publications are a series of short essays and more than twenty books, ten of them in collaboration with Ediciones UC, including eleven re-editions in Spanish of Lao-Tzu's "The Book of Tao and Virtue". In other publications, such as Sabiduría chilena de tradición oral [Chilean Wisdom of Oral Tradition], Rostro de hombre [Face of Man] and El Cristo Preexistente [The Preexistent Christ], he expanded the study of the ethical and spiritual principles of humanity.
Through his research, he also made diverse contributions to the national culture, ranging from the transcription of the folkloric repertoire compiled by Violeta Parra in various regions of the country, including the famous singer's personal creations, to one of his most important works on the symbolism of our national emblems in his book "La estrella de Chile” [The Star of Chile].
Regarding the extensive work of Soublette, who in 2016 also received the distinction of Professor Emeritus at UC Chile, Sánchez said: "His many contributions to the musical and national culture have transcended, and even erased, the borders between the different strata, genres, and musical cultures.” His creative activity is focused exclusively on the essence of Music without restrictions.”
Check out a conversation between Gastón Soublette and President Ignacio Sánchez held in 2022.