Quotes by George Santayana

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

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. The dark background which death supplies brings out the tender colors of life in all their purity.
Wisdom comes by disillusionment.
History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.
Our dignity is not in what we do, but what we understand.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.
Habit is stronger than reason.
Fun is a good thing but only when it spoils nothing better.
The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than any logician or theologian, unless the latter, too, be lovers in disguise.
If pain could have cured us we should long ago have been saved.
Intolerance is a form of egotism, and to condemn egotism intolerantly is to share it.
Friendship is almost always the union of a part of one mind with the part of another; people are friends in spots.
Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.
It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss; volatile spirits prefer unhappiness.
When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different.
Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.
Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.
It is a great advantage for a system of philosophy to be substantially true.
Music is essentially useless, as life is.
Nonsense is good only because common sense is so limited.
A man's feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.
By nature's kindly disposition most questions which it is beyond a man's power to answer do not occur to him at all.
It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig.
The Difficult is that which can be done immediately; the Impossible that which takes a little longer.
A man is morally free when, in full possession of his living humanity, he judges the world, and judges other men, with uncompromising sincerity.
The family is one of nature's masterpieces.
The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.
Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself.
Character is the basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of character.
The little word is has its tragedies: it marries and identifies different things with the greatest innocence; and yet no two are ever identical, and if therein lies the charm of wedding them and calling them one, therein too lies the danger.
All thought is naught but a footnote to Plato.
The theatre, for all its artifices, depicts life in a sense more truly than history, because the medium has a kindred movement to that of real life, though an artificial setting and form.
Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.
Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.
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.
The universe, as far as we can observe it, is a wonderful and immense engine.
Oaths are the fossils of piety.
There is nothing sweeter than to be sympathized with.
Knowledge is recognition of something absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace.
The more rational an institution is the less it suffers by making concessions to others.
There is nothing to which men, while they have food and drink, cannot reconcile themselves.
The human mind is not rich enough to drive many horses abreast and wants one general scheme, under which it strives to bring everything.
That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject.
Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.
The highest form of vanity is love of fame.
Emotion is primarily about nothing and much of it remains about nothing to the end.
The diseases which destroy a man are no less natural than the instincts which preserve him.
The primary use of conversation is to satisfy the impulse to talk.
America is a young country with an old mentality.
To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight to the blood.
To be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.
A conception not reducible to the small change of daily experience is like a currency not exchangeable for articles of consumption; it is not a symbol, but a fraud.
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 condor 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.
Nothing can be meaner than the anxiety to live on, to live on anyhow and in any shape; a spirit with any honor is not willing to live except in its own way, and a spirit with any wisdom is not over-eager to live at all.
In endowing us with memory, nature has revealed to us a truth utterly unimaginable to the unreflective creation, the truth of immortality. The most ideal human passion is love, which is also the most absolute and animal and one of the most ephemeral.
Many possessions, if they do not make a man better, are at least expected to make his children happier; and this pathetic hope is behind many exertions.
Man is as full of potential as he is of importance.
Prayer, among sane people, has never superseded practical efforts to secure the desired end.
The passions grafted on wounded pride are the most inveterate; they are green and vigorous in old age.
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual.
The irrational in the human has something about it altogether repulsive and terrible, as we see in the maniac, the miser, the drunkard or the ape.
Nothing so much enhances a good as to make sacrifices for it.
Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated.
To be interested in the changing seasons is, in this middling zone, a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.
There is a kind of courtesy in skepticism. It would be an offense against polite conventions to press our doubts too far.
Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect.
The empiricist... thinks he believes only what he sees, but he is much better at believing than at seeing.
The spirit's foe in man has not been simplicity, but sophistication.
Men become superstitious, not because they have too much imagination, but because they are not aware that they have any.
I like to walk about among the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty.
Let a man once overcome his selfish terror at his own infinitude, and his infinitude is, in one sense, overcome.
Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experience.
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.
Religions are the great fairy tales of conscience.
The loftiest edifices need the deepest foundations.
Oxford, the paradise of dead philosophies.
Boston is a moral and intellectual nursery always busy applying first principles to trifles.
The body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its operation.
Beauty as we feel it is something indescribable; what it is or what it means can never be said.
The effort of art is to keep what is interesting in existence, to recreate it in the eternal.
It is veneer, rouge, aestheticism, art museums, new theaters, etc. that make America impotent. The good things are football, kindness, and jazz bands.
To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.
The philosophy of the common man is an old wife that gives him no pleasure, yet he cannot live without her, and resents any aspersions that strangers may cast on her character.
Wealth, religion, military victory have more rhetorical than efficacious worth.
Every actual animal is somewhat dull and somewhat mad. He will at times miss his signals and stare vacantly when he might well act, while at other times he will run off into convulsions and raise a dust in his own brain to no purpose. These imperfections are so human that we should hardly recognise ourselves if we could shake them off altogether. Not to retain any dulness would mean to possess untiring attention and universal interests, thus realising the boast about deeming nothing human alien to us; while to be absolutely without folly would involve perfect self-knowledge and self-control. The intelligent man known to history flourishes within a dullard and holds a lunatic in leash. He is encased in a protective shell of ignorance and insensibility which keeps him from being exhausted and confused by this too complicated world; but that integument blinds him at the same time to many of his nearest and highest interests. He is amused by the antics of the brute dreaming within his breast; he gloats on his passionate reveries, an amusement which sometimes costs him very dear. Thus the best human intelligence is still decidely barbarous; it fights in heavy armour and keeps a fool at court.
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in whom instinct has learned nothing from experience.
One's friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.