George Santayana

(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)

George Santayana
George Santayana
  • Born: December 16, 1863
  • Died: September 26, 1952
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Profession: Philosopher









Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known in English as George Santayana, was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. Originally from Spain, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States from the age of eight and identified himself as an American, although he always kept a valid Spanish passport. He wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters. At the age of forty-eight, Santayana left his position at Harvard and returned to Europe permanently, never to return to the United States.

Quote Topics Cited
A philosophy is not genuine unless it expires and expresses the life of those who cherish it—the very things that the “hereditary theosophy” of America has singularly failed to do. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible Human Nature
Although Americans … usually say that thought is for the sake of action, it has evidently been in these high moments, when action became incandescent in thought, that they have been most truly alive, and although doing nothing, have found at last that their existence was worth while. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism. Miscellaneous
Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim. Miscellaneous
Government … becomes the rational art of minimizing the inevitable conflicts of primal irrational wills against one another and against the forces of nature at large Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
History is nothing but assisted and recorded memory. It might almost be said to be no science at all History
Injustice in this world is not something comparative; the wrong is deep, clear, and absolute in each private fate. Justice & Injustice
Loyalty to our ancestors does not include loyalty to their mistakes. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Our an omen of our destiny Miscellaneous
Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The definition of a fanatic is a man who redoubles his efforts after he has forgotten the purpose of his struggle. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The true contrast between science and myth is more nearly touched when we say that science alone is capable of verification. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman. War & Peace
A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.
A conception not reducible to the small change of daily experience is like a currency not exchangeable for articles of consumption; it is not a symbol, but a fraud.
A man's feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
A soul is but the last bubble of a long fermentation in the world.
A string of excited, fugitive, miscellaneous pleasures is not happiness; happiness resides in imaginative reflection and judgment, when the picture of one's life, or of human life, as it truly has been or is, satisfies the will, and is gladly accepted. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.
All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.
All thought is naught but a footnote to Plato.
Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.
America is a young country with an old mentality.
An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Before you contradict an old man, my fair friend, you should endeavor to understand him.
Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine By which alone the mortal heart is led Unto the thinking of the thought divine. Religion & God
By nature's kindly disposition most questions which it is beyond a man's power to answer do not occur to him at all. Nature ;Power
Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.
Character is the basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of character. Happiness & Unhappiness
Depression is rage spread thin.
Do not have evil-doers for friends, do not have low people for friends: have virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men.
Each religion, by the help of more or less myth, which it takes more or less seriously, proposes some method of fortifying the human soul and enabling it to make its peace with its destiny. Religion & God ;War & Peace
Emotion is primarily about nothing and much of it remains about nothing to the end.
Experience seems to most of us to lead to conclusions, but empiricism has sworn never to draw them.
Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.
For a man who has done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep. Death
For gold is tried in the fire and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity.
Friends are generally of the same sex, for when men and women agree, it is only in the conclusions; their reasons are always different. Women
Friends need not agree in everything or go always together, or have no comparable other friendships of the same intimacy.
Friendship is almost always the union of a part of one mind with the part of another; people are friends in spots. Friendship
Fun is a good thing but only when it spoils nothing better.
Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies and humors.
Habit is stronger than reason.
Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there. History
I believe in general in a dualism between facts and the ideas of those facts in human heads. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I like to walk about among the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty.
If pain could have cured us we should long ago have been saved.
In Greece wise men speak and fools decide.
Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.
Intolerance is a form of egotism, and to condemn egotism intolerantly is to share it.
It is a revenge the devil sometimes takes upon the virtuous, that he entraps them by the force of the very passion they have suppressed and think themselves superior to.
It is always pleasant to be urged to do something on the ground that one can do it well.
It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig.
It is possible to be a master in false philosophy, easier, in fact, than to be a master in the truth, because a false philosophy can be made as simple and consistent as one pleases. Truth
It is veneer, rouge, aestheticism, art museums, new theaters, etc. that make America impotent. The good things are football, kindness, and jazz bands. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss; volatile spirits prefer unhappiness. Patience
Knowledge is not eating, and we cannot expect to devour and possess what we mean. Knowledge is recognition of something absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Knowledge is recognition of something absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Language is like money, without which specific relative values may well exist and be felt, but cannot be reduced to a common denominator. Money, Coins & Minting
Let a man once overcome his selfish terror at his own infinitude, and his infinitude is, in one sense, overcome.
Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament. Life
Many possessions, if they do not make a man better, are at least expected to make his children happier; and this pathetic hope is behind many exertions. Hope
Music is a means of giving form to our inner feelings, without attaching them to events or objects in the world. Music, Chants & Rapps
Music is essentially useless, as is life. Life ;Music, Chants & Rapps
My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.
Never build your emotional life on the weaknesses of others. Life
Nonsense is so good only because common sense is so limited.
Nothing can so pierce the soul as the uttermost sigh of the body.
Nothing so much enhances a good as to make sacrifices for it.
Oaths are the fossils of piety.
One's friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human. Friendship
Only the dead have seen the end of the war. War & Peace
Oxford, the paradise of dead philosophies.
Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.
Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself.
Periods of tranquillity are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.
Philosophers are very severe towards other philosophers because they expect too much.
Prayer, among sane people, has never superseded practical efforts to secure the desired end.
Religion in its humility restores man to his only dignity, the courage to live by grace. Religion & God
Sanity is madness put to good use.
Society is like the air, necessary to breathe but insufficient to live on. Society
That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject.
The Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration for those who don't understand it.
The Bible is literature, not dogma.
The body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its operation.
The degree in which a poet's imagination dominates reality is, in the end, the exact measure of his importance and dignity.
The Difficult is that which can be done immediately; the Impossible that which takes a little longer.
The diseases which destroy a man are no less natural than the instincts which preserve him.
The dreamer can know no truth, not even about his dream, except by awaking out of it. Truth
The effort of art is to keep what is interesting in existence, to recreate it in the eternal. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The existence of any evil anywhere at any time absolutely ruins a total optimism. Time
The family is one of nature's masterpieces. Nature ;Families, Children & Parenting
The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The highest form of vanity is love of fame. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
The hunger for facile wisdom is the root of all false philosophy.
The irrational in the human has something about it altogether repulsive and terrible, as we see in the maniac, the miser, the drunkard or the ape.
The love of all-inclusiveness is as dangerous in philosophy as in art. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than any logician or theologian, unless the latter, too, be lovers in disguise.
The mind of the Renaissance was not a pilgrim mind, but a sedentary city mind, like that of the ancients.
The more rational an institution is the less it suffers by making concessions to others.
The passions grafted on wounded pride are the most inveterate; they are green and vigorous in old age.
The philosophy of the common man is an old wife that gives him no pleasure, yet he cannot live without her, and resents any aspersions that strangers may cast on her character.
The primary use of conversation is to satisfy the impulse to talk.
The Soul is the voice of the body's interests.
The spirit's foe in man has not been simplicity, but sophistication.
The tendency to gather and to breed philosophers in universities does not belong to ages of free and humane reflection: it is scholastic and proper to the Middle Ages and to Germany.
The truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who have loved it. Truth
The wisest mind has something yet to learn.
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a thousand meanings.
The world is a perpetual caricature of itself; at every moment it is the mockery and the contradiction of what it is pretending to be.
The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the older man who will not laugh is a fool.
Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
There is a kind of courtesy in skepticism. It would be an offense against polite conventions to press our doubts too far.
There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. Death
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. History
To be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.
To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Nature
To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.
To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.
To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography. Citizenship & Patriotism
To reform means to shatter one form and to create another; but the two sides of this act are not always equally intended nor equally successful.
Tyrants are seldom free; the cares and the instruments of their tyranny enslave them.
We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible. Future ;Respect
Wealth, religion, military victory have more rhetorical than efficacious worth. Religion & God
When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different. Women
Wisdom comes by disillusionment.