George Santayana


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

Author Quotes

The existence of any evil anywhere at any time absolutely ruins a total optimism.

It would hardly be possible to exaggerate man's wretchedness if it were not so easy to overestimate his sensibility.

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.

By essence I understand a universal, of any degree of complexity and definition, which may be given immediately, whether to sense or to thought... This object of pure sense or pure thought, with no belief superadded, an object inwardly complete and individual, but without external relations or physical status, is what I call an essence.

Even if Lucretius was wrong, and the soul is immortal, it is nevertheless steadily changing its interests and its possessions. Our lives are mortal if our soul is not; and the sentiment which reconciled Lucretius to death is as much needed if we are to face many deaths, as if we are to face only one.

God is a name the world gives to the devil when he is victorious.

I have no axe to grind; only my thoughts to burnish.

In love the heart surrenders itself entirely to the one being that has known how to touch it. That being is not selected; it is recognized and obeyed.

It is always pleasant to be urged to do something on the ground that one can do it well.

Animals are born and bred in litters. Solitude grows blessed and peaceful only in old age.

By nature's kindly disposition most questions which are beyond a man's power to answer do not occur to him at all.

Even the most inspired verse, which boasts not without a relative justification to be immortal, becomes in the course of ages a scarcely legible hieroglyphic; the language it was written in dies, a learned education and an imaginative effort are requisite to catch even a vestige of its original force. Nothing is so irrevocable as mind.

Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies and humors.

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