George Santayana


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

Author Quotes

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.

They say dying animals go into hiding; and I could understand that instinct. There are phases of distress when help is neither possible nor desired. It is simpler, easier, more honest to be seasick alone, and to die alone. The trouble then seems something fated, not to be questioned, like life itself; and nature is built to face it and to see it out.

To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.

What is the part of wisdom? To dream with one eye open; to be detached from the world without being hostile to it; to welcome fugitive beauties and pity fugitive sufferings, without forgetting for a moment how fugitive they are.

Knowledge is recognition of something absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace.

Music is a means of giving form to our inner feelings, without attaching them to events or objects in the world.

Now the body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its operation.

People who feel themselves to be exiles in this world are mightily inclined to believe themselves citizens of another.

Self-assurance is contemptible and fatal unless it is self-knowledge.

The Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration for those who don't understand it.

The fly that prefers sweetness to a long life may drown in honey.

Language is like money, without which specific relative values may well exist and be felt, but cannot be reduced to a common denominator.

Music is essentially useless, as life is: but both have an ideal extension which lends utility to its conditions.

O world, thou choosest not the better part! It is not wisdom to be only wise, and on the inward vision close the eyes, but it is wisdom to believe the heart. Columbus found a world, and had no chart, save one that faith deciphered in the skies; to trust the soul’s invincible surmise was all his science and his only art.

Perception is definable as a sensation turned into knowledge of its ground, that is, of its present occasion.

Since barbarism has its pleasures it naturally has its apologists.

The Bible is literature, not dogma.

The function of history ... is not passively to reproduce its subject-matter.

Let a man once overcome his selfish terror at his own finitude, and his finitude is, in one sense, overcome.

My remembrance of the past is a novel I am constantly recomposing; and it would not be a historical novel, but sheer fiction, if the material events which mark and ballast my career had not their public dates and characters scientifically discoverable.

Oaths are the fossils of piety.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date
Death Date

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