George Santayana


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

Author Quotes

Nonsense is good only because common sense is so limited.

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Prejudice is a great time saver. It enables you to form opinions without bothering to get the facts.

That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject.

The earth has music for those who listen.

It takes a wonderful brain and exquisite senses to produce a few stupid ideas.

Man is as full of potential as he is of importance.

Nothing can so pierce the soul as the uttermost sigh of the body.

Only when vitality is low do people find material things oppressive and ideal things unsubstantial.

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.

That lights the pathway but one step ahead

The effort of art is to keep what is interesting in existence, to recreate it in the eternal.

It would be easy, however, to exaggerate the havoc wrought by such artificial conditions. The monotony we observe in mankind must not be charged to the oppressive influence of circumstances crushing the individual soul. It is not society's fault that most men seem to miss their vocation. Most men have no vocation; and society, in imposing on them some chance language, some chance religion, and some chance career, first plants an ideal in their bosoms and insinuates into them a sort of racial or professional soul. Their only character is composed of the habits they have been led to acquire. Some little propensities betrayed in childhood may very probably survive; one man may prove by his dying words that he was congenitally witty, another tender, another brave.But these native qualities will simply have added an ineffectual tint to some typical existence or other; and the vast majority will remain, as Schopenhauer said, Fabrikwaaren der Natur.

Men become superstitious, not because they have too much imagination, but because they are not aware that they have any.

Nothing is so irrevocable as mind.

Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine.

Profound skepticism is favorable to conventions, because it doubts that the criticism of conventions is any truer than they are.

The age is not intellectual, but the human race is capable of becoming so, and ought not to be ashamed of the fact.

The empiricist... thinks he believes only what he sees, but he is much better at believing than at seeing.

It would be so awkward in heaven, after all one had discovered, to have to put on a perfect innocence.

Men have always been the victims of trifles, but when they were uncomfortable and passionate, and in constant danger, they hardly had time to notice what the daily texture of their thoughts was in their calm intervals, whereas with us the intervals are all.

Nothing is so poor and melancholy as an art that is interested in itself and not in its subject.

Our occasional madness is less wonderful than our occasional sanity.

Religion too often debauches the morality it comes to sanction, and impedes the science it ought to fulfill.

The aim of education is the condition of suspended judgment on everything.

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