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 human race, in its intellectual life, is organized like the bees: the masculine soul is a worker, sexually atrophied, and essentially dedicated to impersonal and universal arts; the feminine is a queen, infinitely fertile, omnipresent in its brooding industry, but passive and abounding in intuitions without method and passions without justice.

The muffled syllables that Nature speaks fill us with deeper longing for her word; she hides a meaning that the spirit seeks, she makes a sweeter music than is heard.

The things we know best are the things we haven't been taught.

There is a similar quote by Edmund Burke People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors., but the relationship between them is unclear.

To be an American is of itself almost a moral condition, an education, and a career.

Truth is one of the realities covered in the eclectic religion of our fathers by the idea of God. Awe very properly hangs about it, since it is the immovable standard and silent witness of all our memories and assertions; and the past and the future, which in our anxious life are so differently interesting and so differently dark, are one seamless garment for the truth, shining like the sun.

When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different.

The hunger for facile wisdom is the root of all false philosophy.

The need of exercise is a modern superstition, invented by people who ate too much and had nothing to think about. Athletics don’t make anybody long-lived or useful.

The tide of evolution carries everything before it, thoughts no less than bodies, and persons no less than nations.

There is no dilemma in the choice between animal faith and reason, because reason is only a form of animal faith, and utterly unintelligible dialectically, although full of a pleasant alacrity and confidence, like the chirping of birds.

To be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.

Two mistakes seem to me to inhere in moralism: one, that God cannot be good or worthy of worship unless he obeys the precepts of human morality; the other, that if God is not good after our fashion, our own morality is undermined.

When omniscience was denied us, we were endowed with versatility. The picturesqueness of human thought may console us for its imperfection.

The idea that horrors are required to give zest to life and interest to art is the idea of savages, men of no experience worth mentioning, and of merely servile, limited sensibilities. Don't tolerate it.

The only kind of reform usually possible is reform from within; a more intimate study and more intelligent use of the traditional forms.

The true contrast between science and myth is more nearly touched when we say that science alone is capable of verification.

There is no dunce like a mature dunce.

To be happy you must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passion, and learned your place in the world.

We are not compelled in naturalism, or even in materialism, to ignore immaterial things; the point is that any immaterial things which are recognized shall be regarded as names, aspects, functions, or concomitant products of those physical things among which action goes on.

When Socrates and his two great disciples composed a system of rational ethics they were hardly proposing practical legislation for mankind...They were merely writing an eloquent epitaph for their country.

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.

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