George Santayana

First published Mon Feb 11, 2002; substantive revision Tue Aug 17, 2010

Philosopher, poet, literary and cultural critic, George Santayana is a principal figure in Classical American Philosophy. His naturalism and emphasis on creative imagination were harbingers of important intellectual turns on both sides of the Atlantic. He was a naturalist before naturalism grew popular; he appreciated multiple perfections before multiculturalism became an issue; he thought of philosophy as literature before it became a theme in American and European scholarly circles; and he managed to naturalize Platonism, update Aristotle, fight off idealisms, and provide a striking and sensitive account of the spiritual life without being a religious believer. His Hispanic heritage, shaded by his sense of being an outsider in America, captures many qualities of American life missed by insiders, and presents views equal to Tocqueville in quality and importance. Beyond philosophy, only Emerson may match his literary production. As a public figure, he appeared on the front cover of Time (3 February 1936), and his autobiography (Persons and Places, 1944) and only novel (The Last Puritan, 1936) were the best-selling books in the United States as Book-of-the-Month Club selections. The novel was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Edmund Wilson ranked Persons and Places among the few first-rate autobiographies, comparing it favorably to Yeats's memoirs, The Education of Henry Adams, and Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Remarkably, Santayana achieved this stature in American thought without being an American citizen. He proudly retained his Spanish citizenship throughout his life. Yet, as he readily admitted, it is as an American that his philosophical and literary corpuses are to be judged. Using contemporary classifications, Santayana is the first and foremost Hispanic-American philosopher.

George Santayana develop society as a “Society is like the air, necessary to breathe, but insufficient to live on —George Santayana”. THE LIFE OF REASON The Life of Reason, subtitled "the Phases of Human Progress", is a book published in five volumes from 1905 to 1906, by Spanish-born American philosopher George Santayana (18631952). It consists of Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science. The work is considered to be the most complete expression of Santayana's moral philosophy; by contrast, his later magnum opus, the four-volume Realms of Being, more fully develops his metaphysical and epistemological theory, particularly his doctrine of essences. Santayana's philosophy is strongly influenced by the materialism of Democritus and the refined ethics of Aristotle, with a special emphasis on the natural development of ideal ends. The Life of Reason is sometimes considered to be one of the most poetic and well-written works of philosophy in Western history.[citation needed] To supply but a single example, the oft-quoted aphorism of Santayana's, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," may be found on p. 284 of Reason in Common Sense.

for though the state is "a monster. with Plato. it is necessary to develop beyond them. This 'natural aristocracy' (a term never used by Santayana. which often become a vehicle for war. and sees it as "a vulgar. "a truly rational morality or social regimen has never existed in the world." THE REASON OF SOCIETY Santayana wishes. in 'A Theory of Justice' Rawls notes that " the natural aristocracy [of Santayana] is a possible interpretation of the two principles of justice. At last." In a phrase anticipating John Rawls. and necessary for the development of . roughly. he still champions love as the most fulfilling experience of life: "Laplace is reported to have said on his deathbed that science was mere trifling. As Cory writes in the volume's preface." he accepts its necessity in maintaining stability and safety for its constituents. taken instead from John Rawls) is built upon Santayana's dislike of equality—he argues." Families and children are immensely important too. and believes that under such a system art and science would flourish. for one-tenth that may be in the object" and that love "fuses the soul again into the impersonal blind flux. he muses that the development of international sports could provide something of "a moral equivalent for war" and that finance and trade between nations may help foster more peace between them. quoting Emerson: "things are in the saddle and ride mankind. Daniel Cory. in addition to excising prolixities and redundancies from the book. and is hardly to be looked for" as such constructions are the luxury of philosophers. he laments the rise of industrialism. as. Over-Patriotism too is abject to him." Though families provide the basic unit of organization among men. and that nothing was real but love. he advocates a sort of natural aristocracy. For this. His society would be." Leisure is critically important to a society. according to Durant." though he ultimately rejects such a conception in favour of democratic equality. in love. with the assistance of his friend and student. and corruption be minimized. Santayana says: "but for the excellence of the typical single life no nation deserves to be remembered more than the sands of the sea. a meritocracy in which the most competent and capable would govern. that "the equality of unequals is inequality"--though he still champions equality of opportunity. anonymous tyranny. Santayana advocates such a mix of aristocracy and democracy. the worst of all crimes of the state." Unfortunately.In 1951. when we find the immortal text half engrossed in a fairer copy. The nonphilosopher must rely upon the "growth of those social emotions which bloom in the generous atmosphere of love and the home. Though he proposes no philosophy of international relations. to "devise a means whereby men may be persuaded to virtue without the stimulus of supernatural hopes and fears. Moreover. "we commit the blotted manuscript of our lives more willingly to the flames." much like Plato." He agrees with Schopenhauer that." Despite this. Corruption abounds in common governments. with all men and women possessing an open road to government: "The only equality subsisting would be equality of opportunity. and he sees it responsible for many of the crimes of the state. as he says in 'Reason in Society'. near the end of his life. "[a] sustained effort was made to dispel those early mists of idealism from the realistic body of his philosophy. "nine-tenths of the cause of love are in the lover." indeed. and to make clear to the reader that our idea of a natural world can never be that world itself. Santayana distrusts democracy. Santayana engaged himself in the weighty task of producing a one-volume abridgment of The Life of Reason at the urging of his editor at Scribner's.

culture and arts." The American Dream and the dream of "laissez-faire industrialism" is a lie. . and is responsible for the endless struggles of modern man. since "civilization has hitherto consisted in the diffusion and dilution of habits arising in privileged centers.

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