George Santayana


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

Author Quotes

Men have feverishly conceived a heaven only to find it insipid, and a hell to find it ridiculous.

Nothing so much enhances a good as to make sacrifices for it.

Oxford, the paradise of dead philosophies

Religions are the great fairy tales of conscience.

The aim of life is some way of living, as flexible and gentle as human nature; so that ambition may stoop to kindness, and philosophy to candor and humor. Neither prosperity nor empire nor heaven can be worth winning at the price of a virulent temper, bloody hands, an anguished spirit, and a vain hatred of the rest of the world.

The fact of having been born is a bad augury for immortality.

It would repel me less to be a hangman than a soldier, because the one is obliged to put to death only criminals sentenced by the law, but the other kills honest men who like himself bathe in innocent blood at the bidding of some superior.

Miracles are propitious accidents, the natural causes of which are too complicated to be readily understood.

Nothing you can lose by dying is half so precious as the readiness to die, which is man's charter of nobility.

Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.

Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve.

The best men in all ages keep classic traditions alive.

The family is an early expedient and in many ways irrational. If the race had developed a special sexless class to be nurses, pedagogues, and slaves, like the workers among ants and bees, then the family would have been unnecessary. Such a division of labor would doubtless have involved evils of its own, but it would have obviated some drags and vexations proper to the family.

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.

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