Santayana, George

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Santayana, George

George Santayana (säntäyä´nä), 1863–1952, American philosopher and poet, b. Madrid, Spain.

Life

Santayana emigrated to the United States in 1872. A graduate of Harvard (1886), he taught in the department of philosophy from 1889 until 1912. After resigning from Harvard he returned to Europe, eventually settling in Italy where he lived in a convent after the outbreak of World War II until his death. He detached himself from the social turmoil of the 20th cent., secluding himself from relationships with either people or events.

Philosophy

Santayana's philosophic stance has been given the apparently opposite descriptions of materialism and Platonism. The contradiction is partly understandable as resulting from his view of the mind as being firmly placed in and responsive to a physical, biological context, and his simultaneous emphasis on and high evaluation of the mind's rational and imaginative vision of physical reality. In an important early work, The Sense of Beauty (1896), he enunciated a qualified hedonism that placed high value on aesthetic pleasure; it was a pleasure that was understood to be an irrational expression of vital interests but was distinguished from direct, sensual pleasures.

The Life of Reason (1905–6) investigates the mind's evolving attempts to define its relationship to its natural context. In that work he saw the relationship of thought and reality as one of ideal correspondence. Santayana's earlier work is marked by a psychological approach to the life of the mind. With the publication of Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923) and The Realms of Being, a four-volume work (The Realm of Essence, 1927; The Realm of Matter, 1930; The Realm of Truth, 1937; The Realm of Spirit, 1940; 1-vol. ed. 1942), he adopted a more classical philosophic approach, making ontological distinctions between the objects of mental activity. Against Cartesian skepticism and idealism he advanced the notion of "animal faith" as the basis of the life of reason.

Religion he viewed as an imaginative creation of real value but without absolute significance. Although he continued to value imaginative and rational consciousness he warned against the mind's tendency to confer substantial reality and causal efficacy on its own creations. His personal withdrawal from active life was paralleled in his philosophy by a decided moral detachment. The whole of Santayana's philosophic writing displays a characteristic richness of style; he also wrote poetry, a volume of which appeared in 1923. His only novel, The Last Puritan (1935), had great popular success. His Dominations and Powers, on political philosophy, was published in 1951.

Bibliography

See The Works of George Santayana (15 vol., 1936–40) and The Philosophy of Santayana, ed. by I. Edman (rev. ed. 1953, repr. 1973); his letters (ed. by D. Cory, 1955; repr. 1973); his memoirs, Persons and Places (3 vol., 1944–53). See also B. J. Singer, The Rational Society (1970); T. N. Munson, The Essential Wisdom of George Santayana (1962, repr. 1983); W. E. Arnett, Santayana and the Sense of Beaury (1955, repr. 1984).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Santayana, George
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.