George Santayana (1863-1952)

“Habit is stronger than reason.”

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”

“Music is a means of giving form to our inner feelings, without attaching them to events or objects in the world.”

“Wisdom comes by disillusionment.”

“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.”

“My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.”

“Do not have evil-doers for friends, do not have low people for friends: have virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men.”

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”

“Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are”

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

“Friends are generally of the same sex, for when men & women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different.”

“We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.”

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”

“Music is essentially useless, as is life”

“Friends need not agree in everything or go always together, or have no comparable other friendships of the same intimacy.”

“Nothing can so pierce the soul as the uttermost sigh of the body.”

“History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.”

“Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure.”

“The difficult is that which can be done immediately; the impossible that which takes a little longer.”

“A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”

“The Bible is literature, not dogma.”

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

“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.”

“Friendship is almost always the union of a part of one mind with the part of another; people are friends in spots.”

“The dreamer can know no truth, not even about his dream, except by awaking out of it.”

“The degree in which a poet’s imagination dominates reality is, in the end, the exact measure of his importance and dignity.”

“Before you contradict an old man, my fair friend, you should endeavor to understand him.”

“Sanity is a madness put to good use.”

“Old places and old persons in their turn, when spirit dwells in them, have an intrinsic vitality of which youth is incapable, precisely, the balance and wisdom that come from long perspectives and broad foundations”

“Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.”

“To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.”

“Nonsense is so good only because common sense is so limited.”

“Tyrants are seldom free; the cares and the instruments of their tyranny enslave them.”

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

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

“All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.”

“Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts.”

“Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.”

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

“Well-bred instinct meets reason halfway.”

“It is rash to intrude upon the piety of others: both the depth and the grace of it elude the stranger.”

“Religions are the great fairy tales of conscience”

“The highest form of vanity is love of fame.”

“Knowledge is recognition of something absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace.”

“It is veneer, rouge, aestheticism, art museums, new theaters, etc. that make America impotent. The good things are football, kindness, and jazz bands.”

“Nothing can be meaner than the anxiety to live on, to live on anyhow and in any shape.”

“The tide of evolution carries everything before it, thoughts no less than bodies, and persons no less than nations.”

“The idea of Christ is much older than Christianity”

“To understand one’s self is the classic form of consolation; to delude one’s self is the romantic.”

“It is a revenge the devil sometimes takes upon the virtuous, that he entraps them by the force of the very passion they have suppressed and think themselves superior to.”

“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.”

“The superiority of the distant over the present is only due to the mass and variety of the pleasures that can be suggested, compared with the poverty of those that can at any time be felt.”

“A man is morally free when, in full possession of his living humanity, he judges the world, and judges other men, with uncompromising sincerity.”

“Let a man once overcome his selfish terror at his own finitude, and his finitude is, in one sense, overcome”

“It is wisdom to believe the heart.”

“Real unselfishness consists in sharing the interests of others.”

“Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim”

“The quality of wit inspires more admiration than confidence.”

“Character is the basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of character.”

“Love is only half the illusion; the lover, but not his love, is deceived.”

“Never build your emotional life on the weaknesses of others.”

“By nature’s kindly disposition most questions which are beyond a man’s power to answer do not occur to him at all.”

“Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated.”

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

“The primary use of conversation is to satisfy the impulse to talk.”

“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.”

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

“England is not the best possible world but it is the best actual country, and a great rest after America”

“What religion a man shall have is a historical accident, quite as much as what language he shall speak”

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

“Man is as full of potentiality as he is of impotence”

“Friends are generally of the same sex, for when men and women agree, it is only in the conclusions; their reasons are always different.”

“Emotion is primarily about nothing and much of it remains about nothing to the end.”

“The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than any logician or theologian, unless the latter, too, be lovers in disguise.”

“The passions grafted on wounded pride are the most inveterate; they are green and vigorous in old age.”

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

“Friends need not agree in everything or go always together, or have no comparable other friendships of the same intimacy. On the contrary, in friendship union is more about ideal things: and in that sense it is more ideal and less subject to trouble than marriage is.”

“The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.”

“Nothing is so irrevocable as mind.”

“Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily.”

“Each religion, by the help of more or less myth, which it takes more or less seriously, proposes some method of fortifying the human soul and enabling it to make its peace with its destiny.”

“The effort of art is to keep what is interesting in existence, to recreate it in the eternal.”

“There is nothing to which men, while they have food and drink, cannot reconcile themselves.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Our dignity is not in what we do, but what we understand.”

“The body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its operation.”

“It is always pleasant to be urged to do something on the ground that one can do it well.”

“Experience seems to most of us to lead to conclusions, but empiricism has sworn never to draw them.”

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

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

“The loftiest edifices need the deepest foundations.”

“The aim of education is the condition of suspended judgment on everything.”

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

“The God to whom depth in philosophy bring back men’s minds is far from being the same from whom a little philosophy estranges them.”

“Nothing so much enhances a good as to make sacrifices for it.”

“There is no cure for birth and death other than to enjoy the interval.”

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

“Each religion, so dear to those whose life it sanctifies, and fulfilling so necessary a function in the society that has adopted it, necessarily contradicts every other religion, and probably contradicts itself.”

“There is no dunce like a mature dunce”

“People who feel themselves to be exiles in this world are mightily inclined to believe themselves citizens of another.”

“The true Christian is in all countries a pilgrim and a stranger.”

“The fly that prefers sweetness to a long life may drown in honey.”

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

“In Greece wise men speak and fools decide.”

“It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss; volatile spirits prefer unhappiness.”

“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.”

“The more rational an institution is the less it suffers by making concessions to others.”

“Oxford, the paradise of dead philosophies.”

“To reform means to shatter one form and to create another; but the two sides of this act are not always equally intended nor equally successful.”

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

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

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

“Depression is rage spread thin.”

“Words are weapons, and it is dangerous in speculation, as in politics, to borrow them from the arsenal of the enemy.”

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

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

“Our occasional madness is less wonderful than our occasional sanity”

“Men have feverishly conceived a heaven only to find it insipid, and a hell to find it ridiculous.”

“To be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.”

“Art, like life, should be free, since both are experimental.”

“Love makes us poets, and the approach of death should makes us philosophers.”

“Oaths are the fossils of piety.”

“Philosophers are as jealous as women; each wants a monopoly of praise.”

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

“America is a young country with an old mentality”

“Prayer, among sane people, has never superseded practical efforts to secure the desired end.”

“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.”

“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.”

“It takes a wonderful brain and exquisite senses to produce a few stupid ideas.”

“Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.”

“Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect.”

“A country without a memory is a country of madmen.”

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.”

 “Work and love — these are the basics; waking life is a dream controlled.”

“Reason and happiness are like other flowers — they wither when plucked.”

“The Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration for those who don’t understand it.”

“The spirit’s foe in man has not been simplicity, but sophistication.”

“If pain could have cured us we should long ago have been saved.”

“The diseases which destroy a man are no less natural than the instincts which preserve him.”

“History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

“Men become superstitious, not because they have too much imagination, but because they are not aware that they have any.”

“There is nothing sweeter than to be sympathized with.”

“The empiricist… thinks he believes only what he sees, but he is much better at believing than at seeing.”

“Before he sets out, the traveler must possess fixed interests and facilities to be served by travel.”

“Music is essentially useless, as life is: but both have an ideal extension which lends utility to its conditions.”

“Religion in its humility restores man to his only dignity, the courage to live by grace.”

“For a man who has done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep.”

“The Soul is the voice of the body’s interests.”

“As man is now constituted, to be brief is almost a condition of being inspired.”

“The universe, as far as we can observe it, is a wonderful and immense engine.”

“The fact of having been born is a bad augury for immortality.”

“One real world is enough.”

“I believe in general in a dualism between facts and the ideas of those facts in human heads.”

“For an idea ever to be fashionable is ominous, since it must afterwards be always old fashioned”

“Unmitigated seriousness is always out of place in human affairs.”

“England is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, anomalies, hobbies, and humors”

“The truth is cruel, but it can be loved and it makes free those who have loved it.”

“An artist may visit a museum, but only a pedant can live there.”


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