George Santayana


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

The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 (1905). Often paraphrased as "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

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

The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 (1905)

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

The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 (1905)

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

The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 (1905)

The highest form of vanity is love of fame.

The Life of Reason, Vol 2 (1905)

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

War Shrines

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.

The Irony of Liberalism

Only the dead have seen the end of war.


American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism.

Character and Opinion in the United States (1920)

Beauty as we feel it is something indescribable: what it is or what it means can never be said.

The Sense of Beauty (1896)

Beauty is a pledge of the possible conformity between the soul and nature, and consequently a ground of faith in the supremacy of the good.

The Sense of Beauty (1896)