George Santayana Quotes

Most popular George Santayana Quotes

Habit is stronger than reason.
— George Santayana


Wisdom comes by disillusionment.
— George Santayana


It is wisdom to believe the heart.
— George Santayana
The Bible is literature, not dogma.
— George Santayana


Sanity is a madness put to good uses.
— George Santayana
The wisest mind hath something to learn.
— George Santayana
Music is essentially useless, as is life.
— George Santayana


The family is one of nature's masterpieces.

family masterpiece

The wisest mind has something yet to learn.
— George Santayana
The highest form of vanity is love of fame.

fame vanity

Theory helps us bear our ignorance of facts.
— George Santayana


Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts.
— George Santayana
Man is as full of potentiality as he is of impotence.


Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.


Knowledge of the possible is the beginning of happiness.
— George Santayana
To turn events into ideas is the function of literature.

ideas literature

A child educated only at school is an undereducated child.
— George Santayana
Our dignity is not in what we do but in what we understand.


Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.
— George Santayana


I have imagination, and nothing that is real is alien to me.


Nothing so much enhances a good as to make sacrifices for it.
Myths are not believed in, they are conceived and understood.
— George Santayana
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
— George Santayana
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

history the past

Religion is the love of life in the consciousness of impotence.


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

art artists

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

cures death life

Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve.

environment impermanence nature

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

chaos confusion

The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.
— George Santayana
America is the greatest of opportunities and the worst of influences.
— George Santayana


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


One's friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.
— George Santayana


Character is the basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of character.
— George Santayana
To the art of working well a civilized race would add the art of playing well.

play work & play

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


Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.
— George Santayana


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


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


A dream is always simmering below the conventional surface of speech and reflection.

dreams (during sleep)

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


The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the older man who will not laugh a fool.
— George Santayana
Our dignity is not in what we do, but what we understand. The whole world is doing things.
— George Santayana
If artists and poets are unhappy, it is after all because happiness does not interest them.
— George Santayana
Nothing is so poor and melancholy as art that is interested in itself and not in its subject.
— George Santayana
Beauty as we feel it is something indescribable: what it is or what it means can never be said.
— George Santayana
We crave support in vanity, as we do in religion, and never forgive contradictions in that sphere.


Words are weapons, and it is dangerous in speculation, as in politics, to borrow them from our enemies.


What religion a man shall have is a historical accident, quite as much as what language he shall speak.
— George Santayana


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


Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.
— George Santayana


That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject.

fear gods

Truth is a jewel which should not be painted over; but it may be set to advantage and shown in a good light.
— George Santayana
Miracles are propitious accidents, the natural causes of which are too complicated to be readily understood.
— George Santayana
The mediocrity of everything in the great world of today is simply appalling.  We live in intellectual slums.


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


Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer.


Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated.
— George Santayana
Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.

children parents

That life is worth living is the most necessary of assumptions, and were it not assumed, the most impossible of conclusions.
— George Santayana
It is a new road to happiness, if you have strength enough to castigate a little the various impulses that sway you in turn.


Poetry is an attenuation, a rehandling, an echo of crude experience; it is itself a theoretic vision of things at arm's length.


The world is a perpetual caricature of itself; at every moment it is the mockery and the contradiction of what it is pretending to be.
— George Santayana
Friends are generally of the same sex, for when men and women agree, it is only in the conclusions; their reasons are always different.
— George Santayana

men and women

A man's memory may almost become the art of continually varying and misrepresenting his past, according to his interests in the present.


Time is like an enterprising manager always bent on staging some new and surprising production, without knowing very well what it will be.


Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When...experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual.


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.


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


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

the world

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

the world

I like to walk about amidst 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.

possessions things wealth

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.


Philosophy is a more intense sort of experience than common life is, just as pure and subtle music, heard in retirement, is something keener and more intense than the howling of storms or the rumble of cities.


Professional philosophers are usually only apologists: that is, they are absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea.  Like lawyers or detectives, they study the case for which they are retained.