Jaime Balmes

Father Jaime Luciano Balmes y Urpiá (Catalan: Jaume Llucià Antoni Balmes i Urpià; 28 August 1810  9 July 1848) was a Spanish Catholic priest known for his political and philosophical writing.


Balmes was born at Vic, in the region of Catalonia in Spain and baptized the same day in the cathedral of that city with the name of Jaime Luciano Antonio. He died in the same city.

In 1817, Balmes began his studies at the seminary in Vic: three years of Latin grammar, three of Rhetoric and, from 1822, three of Philosophy. In 1825, in Solsona, he received the tonsure from the Bishop of this city, Manuel Benito Tabernero.

From 1825 to 1826, Balmes studied courses of Theology, also in Vic Seminary. He studied four courses of Theology, thanks to a scholarship, in the College of San Carlos at the University of Cervera.

For two years in 1830, because of the closure of the University of Cervera, Balmes continued studying in Vic, on his own. On 8 June 1833 he received his degree in theology.

On 20 September 1834, in the chapel of the episcopal palace of Vic, Balmes was ordained a priest by bishop don Pablo de Jesús Corcuera. He continued his studies in theology and of Canons, again at the University of Cervera. Finally, in 1835, he received the title of Doctor of Theology and Bachelor of Canons.

Balmes then made several attempts to teach in an official way at the University of Barcelona and not get engaged for some time in Vic tutoring. Finally, the City Council appoints him, in 1837, Professor of Mathematics, a position that he held for four years. In 1839, his mother Teresa Urpiá, died. In 1841, he moved to Barcelona.

Then, Balmes began his creative activity and contributed to various newspapers and magazines: Peace, Catholic Madrid, Civilization; and several pamphlets that attract readers attention.

From 1841, his creative genius "exploded" and he developed in a few highly active months his writings and his personality, that would be admired throughout Europe.

On 7 September 1844, he wrote and published "The true idea of value, or thoughts on the origin, the nature and variations of the prices" in which he solved the calue paradox, clearly introducing the notion of marginal use, Balmes asked himself, "Why a precious stone has a higher value than a piece of bread?"[1]

Having attacked the regent Espartero, he was exiled. On his return, he founded and edited El Pensamiento de la Nación, a Catholic and conservative weekly; however, his fame rests principally on El Protestantismo comparado con el Catolicismo en sus relaciones con la Civilización Europea (Protestantism and Catholicity compared in their Effects on the Civilization of Europe),[2] an able defence of Catholicism on the ground that it represents the spirit of obedience or order, as opposed to Protestantism, the spirit of revolt or anarchy.[3] The book is often cited as a counter argument to historical accounts that focus on the reputed central role of the Protestant thought to the development of modern society.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition:[4]

The best of his philosophical works, which are clear expositions of the scholastic system of thought, are the Filosofia Fundamental (Basic Philosophy),[5] and the Curso de Filosofia Elemental (A Course of Elementary Philosophy),[6] which he translated into Latin for use in seminaries.


Works in English translation


"Reading is like eating; the benefits are not in proportion to what is consumed, but to what is digested."

See also


  1. James Balmes, "Verdadera idea valor o reflexiones sobre el origin, naturaleza y variedad de los precios", in Obra Completas, vol. 5, Madrid, BAC, 1949, pp. 615-624
  2. 3 vols., 1842–1844, 6th edition, 1879; English translation in 1849 and also in 1856 by Charles Ignatius White.
  3.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Balmès, Jaime Luciano". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 284.
  4. Chisholm 1911.
  5. 4 vols., 1846, Eng. trans. by H. F. Brownson, 2 vols. New York, 1856.
  6. 4 vols., 1847


Further reading

  • Córdoba, Buenaventura de. Noticia Histórico-Literaria del Dr. D. Jaime Balmes, Presbitero, Eusebio Aguado, 1848.
  • Clark, Kelly James. "Spanish Common Sense Philosophy: Jaime Balmes' Critique of Cartesian Foundationalism," History of Philosophy Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 2, Apr., 1990.
  • Davis, Harold Eugene. "Jaime Balmes, Spanish Traditionalist: His Influence in Spanish America," The Americas, Vol. 35, No. 3, Jan., 1979.
  • Huerta de Soto, Jesus, "Juan de Mariana et la Seconde Scolastique espagnole", in Philippe Nemo & Jean Petitot, Histoire du liberalism en Europe, Puf, Paris, 2006
  • Marshall, Odum Walter. Jaime Balmes and the Politics of Reconciliation in Spain, 1843-1848, Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida State University, 1978.
  • Roca Blanco, Dionisio. Balmes (1810–1848), Ediciones del Orto, 1997.
  • Sadurni, Albert. Balmes, Imp. y Llibreria de L. Anglada, 1910.
  • Sainz de Robles, Federico Carlos. Balmes, Compañía Bibliográfica Española, 1964.
  • Santos, Benito Garcia de los. Vida de Balmes, Sociedad de Operarias del Mismo Arte, 1848.
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