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Quotes of the day: George Santayana

Published Monday, December 16, 2013 @ 6:19 AM EST
Dec 16 2013

Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known as George Santayana (December 16, 1863 – September 26, 1952), was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States and identified himself as an American, although he always kept a valid Spanish passport. He wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters. At the age of 48, Santayana left his position at Harvard and returned to Europe permanently, never to return to the United States. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A man's feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.

A man's hatred of his own condition no more helps to improve it than hatred of other people tends to improve them.

Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.

America is a young country with an old mentality.

America is the greatest of opportunities and the worst of influences.

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

Facts are all accidents. They might have all been different.

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.

Fun is a good thing but only when it spoils nothing better.

Habit is stronger than reason.

Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment.

If you bravely make the best of a crazy world, eternity is full of champions that will defend you.

In solitude it is possible to love mankind; in the world, for one who knows the world, there can be nothing but secret or open war.

Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.

It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig.

It is not society's fault that most men seem to miss their vocation. Most men have no vocation.

Life is a succession of second bests.

Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.

Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.

Music is essentially useless, as life is.

Oaths are the fossils of piety.

One Englishman- an idiot, two Englishmen- a sporting event, three Englishmen- an empire.

Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.

Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself.

Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled.

Society is like the air, necessary to breathe but insufficient to live on.

That life is worth living is the most necessary of assumptions and, were it not assumed, the most impossible of conclusions.

The family is one of nature's masterpieces.

The idea that horrors are required to give zest to life and interest to art is the idea of savages, men of no experience worth mentioning, and of merely servile, limited sensibilities. Don't tolerate it.

The loftiest edifices need the deepest foundations.

The mass of mankind is divided into two classes- the Sancho Panzas who have a sense for reality, but no ideals; and, the Don Quixotes, with a sense for ideals, but mad.

The mediocrity of everything in the great world of today is simply appalling. We live in intellectual slums.

The need of exercise is a modern superstition, invented by people who ate too much and had nothing to think about. Athletics doesn't make anybody either long-lived or useful.

The people with whom I agree frighten me, and I frighten those with whom I naturally sympathize.

The workings of great institutions is mainly the result of a vast mass of routine, petty malice, self-interest, carelessness and sheer mistake. Only a residual fraction is thought.

The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.

There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin, are more interesting than the text. The world is one of those books.

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.

To call war the soil of courage and virtue is like calling debauchery the soil of love.

To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.

To fight is a radical instinct; if men have nothing else to fight over they will fight over words, fancies, or women, or they will fight because they dislike each other's looks, or because they have met walking in opposite directions.

To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight to the blood.

Wealth is dismal and poverty cruel unless both are festive.

Wealth, religion, military victory have more rhetorical than efficacious worth.

When men and women agree, it is only in the conclusions; their reasons are always different.

Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together.

Wisdom comes by disillusionment.

Categories: George Santayana, Quotes of the day


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