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Santayana, George (1863–1952)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD061-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

George Santayana was a philosopher, essayist, novelist and poet. Born in Spain, he moved to America as a child and attended Harvard, studying under William James and Josiah Royce. The philosophical world first took note of Santayana for his work in aesthetics. The Sense of Beauty (1896), his attempt to give a naturalistic account of the beautiful, remains influential. He wrote exquisitely crafted essays on literature and religion, viewing both as articulating important symbolic truths about the human condition. His mature philosophical system is a classical edifice constructed out of positions adopted from Plato and Aristotle, which he modified in light of the naturalistic insights of his beloved Lucretius and Spinoza and steeped in pessimism reminiscent of Schopenhauer. Although in close touch with the philosophical developments of his day, he always viewed human life and its problems in a calming cosmic perspective.

Citing this article:
Lachs, John. Santayana, George (1863–1952), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD061-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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