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George Santayana

Birthdate: 16. December 1863
Date of death: 26. September 1952

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 retained 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.

Santayana is popularly known for aphorisms, such as "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", "Only the dead have seen the end of war", and the definition of beauty as "pleasure objectified". Although an atheist, he treasured the Spanish Catholic values, practices, and worldview in which he was raised. Santayana was a broad-ranging cultural critic spanning many disciplines. He was profoundly influenced by Spinoza's life and thought; and, in many respects, was a devoted Spinozist.

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Works

The Sense of Beauty
The Sense of Beauty
George Santayana

„Sanity is a madness put to good uses.“

—  George Santayana

Source: The Essential Santayana: Selected Writings

„Professional philosophers are usually only apologists: that is, they are absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea.“

—  George Santayana

Source: The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy (1911), pp. 48-49
Context: Professional philosophers are usually only apologists: that is, they are absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea. Like lawyers or detectives, they study the case for which they are retained.

„The line between what is known scientifically and what has to be assumed in order to support knowledge is impossible to draw. Memory itself is an internal rumour“

—  George Santayana

Source: The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress (1905-1906), Vol. V, Reason in Science, Ch. 2 "History"
Context: History is nothing but assisted and recorded memory. It might almost be said to be no science at all, if memory and faith in memory were not what science necessarily rest on. In order to sift evidence we must rely on some witness, and we must trust experience before we proceed to expand it. The line between what is known scientifically and what has to be assumed in order to support knowledge is impossible to draw. Memory itself is an internal rumour; and when to this hearsay within the mind we add the falsified echoes that reach us from others, we have but a shifting and unseizable basis to build upon. The picture we frame of the past changes continually and grows every day less similar to the original experience which it purports to describe.

„History is nothing but assisted and recorded memory.“

—  George Santayana

Source: The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress (1905-1906), Vol. V, Reason in Science, Ch. 2 "History"
Context: History is nothing but assisted and recorded memory. It might almost be said to be no science at all, if memory and faith in memory were not what science necessarily rest on. In order to sift evidence we must rely on some witness, and we must trust experience before we proceed to expand it. The line between what is known scientifically and what has to be assumed in order to support knowledge is impossible to draw. Memory itself is an internal rumour; and when to this hearsay within the mind we add the falsified echoes that reach us from others, we have but a shifting and unseizable basis to build upon. The picture we frame of the past changes continually and grows every day less similar to the original experience which it purports to describe.

„In Walt Whitman democracy is carried into psychology and morals.“

—  George Santayana

Source: The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy (1911), p. 53
Context: In Walt Whitman democracy is carried into psychology and morals. The various sights, moods, and emotions are given each one vote; they are declared to be all free and equal, and the innumerable commonplace moments of life are suffered to speak like the others. Those moments formerly reputed great are not excluded, but they are made to march in the ranks with their companions—plain foot-soldiers and servants of the hour.

„By their mind, its scope, quality, and temper, we estimate men, for by the mind only do we exist as men, and are more than so many storage-batteries for material energy. Let us therefore be frankly human.“

—  George Santayana

Source: The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy (1911), p. 64
Context: Because the peculiarity of man is that his machinery for reaction on external things has involved an imaginative transcript of these things, which is preserved and suspended in his fancy; and the interest and beauty of this inward landscape, rather than any fortunes that may await his body in the outer world, constitute his proper happiness. By their mind, its scope, quality, and temper, we estimate men, for by the mind only do we exist as men, and are more than so many storage-batteries for material energy. Let us therefore be frankly human. Let us be content to live in the mind.

„Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of fact.“

—  George Santayana, book The Sense of Beauty

Pt. III, Form; § 30: "The average modified in the direction of pleasure.", p. 125
The Sense of Beauty (1896)
Context: In fact, the whole machinery of our intelligence, our general ideas and laws, fixed and external objects, principles, persons, and gods, are so many symbolic, algebraic expressions. They stand for experience; experience which we are incapable of retaining and surveying in its multitudinous immediacy. We should flounder hopelessly, like the animals, did we not keep ourselves afloat and direct our course by these intellectual devices. Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of fact.

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„Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“

—  George Santayana

This famous statement has produced many paraphrases and variants:
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.
Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.
Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
There is a similar quote by Edmund Burke (in Revolution in France) that often leads to misattribution: "People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors."
The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress (1905-1906), Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense
Source: The Life of Reason: Five Volumes in One
Context: Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

„A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.“

—  George Santayana

“Why I Am Not a Marxist” http://books.google.com/books?id=O4weAQAAMAAJ&q=educated+only+at+school+#search_anchor “Modern Monthly: Volume: 9″ (April 1935); Page: 77-79.
Other works

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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