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George Santayana
1863 - 1952

Spanish-born American philosopher, poet, humanist, professor at Harvard University, author of The Life of Reason (1906)


Intolerance is a form of egotism, and to condemn egotism intolerantly is to share it.

The human mind is not rich enough to drive many horses abreast and wants one general scheme, under which it strives to bring everything.

The loftiest edifices need the deepest foundations.

Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.

The soul is not on earth an alien thing / That hath her life's rich sources otherwhere; / She is a parcel of the sacred air.

from "These strewn thoughts, by the mountain pathway sprung"
Come no profane insatiate mortal near / With the contagion of his passionate ills; / The smoke of battle all the valleys fills, / Let the eternal sunlight greet me here.

from "A wall, a wall to hem the azure sphere"
That an attitude is foolish, incoherent, disastrous, proves nothing against the depth of the instinct that inspires it. Who could be more intensely unintelligent than Luther or Rousseau? Yet the world followed them, not to turn back. The molecular forces of society, so to speak, had already undermined the systems which these men denounced. If the systems have survived it is only because the reformers, in their intellectual helplessness, could supply nothing to take their place.

1940 - from Egotism in German Philosophy
Moral freedom... does not lie in alleged magic power to produce events contrary to the course of nature...

1946 - from The Idea of Christ in the Gospels or God in Man: A Critical Essay
It is not politics that can bring true liberty to the soul; that must be achieved, if at all, by philosophy...

1922 - from Soliliquies in England and Later Soliliquies
Truly religious minds, while eager perhaps to extirpate every religion but their own, often rise above national jealousies; for spirituality is universal, whatever churches may be.

1905 - from "Intuitive Morality" in The Life of Reason
Ideal society is a drama enacted exclusively in the imagination.

1905 - from The Life of Reason
It is a great bond to dislike the same things.

1911 - from a letter to Bertrand Russell, quoted in The International Thesaurus of Quotations by Ehrlich and de Bruhl
Fanatacism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.

1905 - from The Life of Reason
Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.

1906 - from The Life of Reason
A man's feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

1906 - from The Life of Reason
Merciless, irrational ambition has borrowed the language of brotherly love.

from My Host, the World
The family is one of nature's masterpieces.