Pragmatism and the American Mind: Essays and Reviews in Philosophy and Intellectual History

By Morton White | Go to book overview

25. The Later Years of George Santayana1

I have always thought that Bertrand Russell was right in not taking George Santayana seriously as an analyst of knowledge, of truth, and of essence -- Santayana's favorite concept;2 and I have thought for a long time that William James and John Dewey were justifiably irritated by his snobbishness, coldness, and reactionary sentiment. As a metaphysician and epistemologist Santayana lacked great depth and logical power, and for one who set himself up as a moralist he seemed to me strangely lacking in sympathy for human beings. Because Daniel Cory, who has edited the volume of letters, Santayana: The Later Years, has done little to expound or defend Santayana's philosophy, he has not forced me to change my view of Santayana's position in the history of metaphysics and epistemology; but he has certainly led me to see more warmth, wisdom, and generosity than I had ever

____________________
1
This is a slightly revised version of a review of Santayana: The Later Years: A Portrait With Letters, edited by Daniel Cory ( New York, 1963), in The New York Herald Tribune Book Week, 20 October 1963, p. 6. The essay is reprinted here by permission.
2
See Bertrand Russell, Portraits from Memory and Other Essays ( New York, 1956), pp. 94-95. However, Russell does acknowledge certain philosophical debts to Santayana in ethics, op. cit., p. 96.

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