The Life of Reason, subtitled "the Phases of Human Progress", is a book published in five volumes from 1905 to 1906, by Spanish-born American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952). It consists of Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science.
The work is considered to be the most complete expression of Santayana's moral philosophy; by contrast, his later magnum opus, the four-volume Realms of Being, more fully develops his metaphysical and epistemological theory, particularly his doctrine of essences. Santayana's philosophy is strongly influenced by the materialism of Democritus and the refined ethics of Aristotle, with a special emphasis on the natural development of ideal ends.
The Life of Reason is sometimes considered to be one of the most poetic and well-written works of philosophy in Western history To supply but a single example, the oft-quoted aphorism of Santayana's, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," may be found on p. 284 of Reason in Common Sense.
In 1951, near the end of his life, Santayana engaged himself in the weighty task of producing a one-volume abridgment of The Life of Reason at the urging of his editor at Scribner's, with the assistance of his friend and student, Daniel Cory. As Cory writes in the volume's preface, in addition to excising prolixities and redundancies from the book, "[a] sustained effort was made to dispel those early mists of idealism from the realistic body of his philosophy, and to make clear to the reader that our idea of a natural world can never be that world itself."
George Santayana (born Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás in Madrid, December 16, 1863; died September 26, 1952, in Rome) was a Spanish American philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States. He wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters. At the age of forty-eight, Santayana left his position at Harvard and returned to Europe permanently, never to return to the United States. His last will was to be buried in the Spanish Pantheon in Rome.
Santayana is known for his comments: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and "[O]nly the dead have seen the end of war." The latter sentence has often been falsely attributed to Plato. The philosophical system of Santayana is broadly considered Pragmatist due to his concerns shared with fellow Harvard University associates William James and Josiah Royce. But, Santayana did not accept this label for his writing and eschewed any association with a philosophical school; he declared that he stood in philosophy "exactly where [he stood] in daily life."
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