George Santayana biography

George Santayana

Philosopher, Author

1863 – 1952


Who was George Santayana?

Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known as George Santayana, was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States 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. His last will was to be buried in the Spanish Pantheon of the Cimitero Monumentale del Verano in Rome.

Santayana is known for famous sayings, such as "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and "[O]nly the dead have seen the end of war.". Santayana is broadly included among the pragmatists with Harvard University colleagues William James and Josiah Royce. He said that he stood in philosophy "exactly where [he stood] in daily life."

Famous Quotes:

  • 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.
  • The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.
  • The body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its operation.
  • 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 more rational an institution is the less it suffers by making concessions to others.
  • Wisdom comes by disillusionment.
  • Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.
  • Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated.
  • Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself.
  • By nature's kindly disposition most questions which it is beyond a man's power to answer do not occur to him at all.

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Dec 16, 1863
  • Atheism
  • Catholicism
  • Spanish American
  • United States of America
  • Spain
  • Harvard University
  • King's College, Cambridge
  • Harvard College
  • Boston Latin School
Lived in
  • Madrid
  • Rome
Sep 26, 1952

on July 23, 2013


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