George Santayana


Spanish-born American Philosopher, Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Critic, Philosophy Professor at Harvard University

Author Quotes

Words are weapons, and it is dangerous in speculation, as in politics, to borrow them from the arsenal of the enemy.

Work and love -- these are the basics; waking life is a dream controlled.

You cannot prove realism to a complete skeptic or idealist; but you can show an honest man that he is not a complete skeptic or idealist, but a realist at heart. So long as he is alive his sincere philosophy must fulfill the assumptions of his life and not destroy him.

The loneliest woman in the world is a woman without a close woman friend.

The pure spirit in us may safely cultivate universal sympathies; for it can have no grudge against anything and will be tender also to our accidental natural selves and our home world; but the man must remain loyal to himself and his traditions, or he will be morally a eunuch and a secret hater of all mankind.

The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a thousand meanings.

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor.

To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.

What brings enlightenment is experience, in the sad sense of this word, the pressure of hard facts and unintelligible troubles, making a man rub his eyes in his waking dream, and put two and two together. Enlightenment is cold water.

Wisdom lies in taking everything with good humor and a grain of salt.

The love of all-inclusiveness is as dangerous in philosophy as in art.

The religion of the optimists is one long lazy lie.

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. But as it nevertheless intends all the time to be something different and highly dignified, at the next moment it corrects and checks and tries to cover up the absurd thing it was; so that a conventional world, a world of masks, is superimposed on the reality, and passes in every sphere of human interest for the reality itself. Humor is the perception of this illusion, whilst the convention continues to be maintained, as if we had not observed its absurdity.

There was a distinct class of these gentlemen tramps, young men no longer young, who wouldn't settle down, who disliked polite society and the genteel conventions, but hadn't enough intelligence or enough conceit to think themselves transcendentalists or poets, in the style of Thoreau or of Walt Whitman.

To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.

What establishes superstitions is haste to understand, rash confidence in the moral intelligibility of things.

The love of life is not something rational, or founded on experience of life. It is something antecedent and spontaneous.

The same battle in the clouds will be known to the deaf only as lightning and to the blind only as thunder.

The worship of power is an old religion.

They [the wise spirits of antiquity in the first circle of Dante's Inferno] are condemned, Dante tells us, to no other penalty than to live in desire without hope, a fate appropriate to noble souls with a clear vision of life.

To know your future you must know your past.

What is more important in life than our bodies, or in the world than what we look like?

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 Soul is the voice of the body's interests.

Theory helps us bear our ignorance of facts.

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Spanish-born American Philosopher, Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Critic, Philosophy Professor at Harvard University