Positive Atheism's Big List of
George Santayana
Quotations

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George Santayana (1863-1952)
Spanish-born US-raised philosopher, poet

George SantayanaThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-- George Santayana, Life of Reason, "Reason in Common Sense," ch. 12 (1905-6). William L Shirer used this quote as an epigraph in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959). Quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations.

A conception not reducible to the small change of daily experience is like a currency not exchangeable for articles of consumption; it is not a symbol, but a fraud.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, "Reason in Society," ch. 8 (1905-6), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Civilization is perhaps approaching one of those long winters that overtake it from time to time. Romantic Christendom -- picturesque, passionate, unhappy episode -- may be coming to an end. Such a catastrophe would be no reason for despair.
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States (1923), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Religion is the natural reaction of the imagination when confronted by the difficulties in a truculent world.
-- George Santayana, Atlantic Monthly (1953), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, "Reason in Religion," ch. 3 (1905-6), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Faith in the supernatural is a desperate wager made by man at the lowest ebb of his fortunes.
-- George Santayana, "Supernaturalism," Little Essays, No. 108, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Prayer, among sane people, has never superseded practical efforts to secure the desired end.
-- George Santayana, "Imaginative Nature of Religion," Little Essays, No. 23, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Introduction, "Reason in Commonsense" (1905-86), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

It is pathetic to observe how lowly the motives are that religion, even the highest, attributes to the deity... To be given the best morsel, to be remembered, to be praised, to be obeyed blindly and punctiliously -- these have been thought points of honor with the gods.
-- George Santayana, "Pathetic Notions of God," Little Essays, No. 26, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Religious doctrines would do well to withdraw their pretension to be dealing with matters of fact. That pretension is not only the source of the conflicts of religion with science and the vain and bitter controversies of sects; it is also the cause of the impurity and incoherence of religion in the soul.
-- George Santayana, "Prosaic Misunderstandings," Little Essays, No. 24, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Any attempt to speak without speaking any particular language is not more hopeless than the attempt to have a religion that shall be no religion in particular.... Every living and healthy religion has a marked idiosyncrasy. Its power consists in its special and surprising message and the bias which that revelation gives to life.
-- George Santayana, showing the vacancy behind the idea of a "generic God," such as is used to justify placing "In God We Trust" on US money and inserting in "under God" into America's Pledge of Allegiance (used in this context in the piece from which we excerpted it), quoted from Martin E Marty, "Name That God" (The Christian Century, July 31 to August 13, 2002)

People who feel themselves to be exiles in this world are mightily inclined to believe themselves citizens of another.
-- George Santayana, quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

George SantayanaFor Shakespeare, in the matter of religion, the choice lay between Christianity and nothing. He chose nothing.
-- George Santayana, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion (1945), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety toward the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.
-- George Santayana, "On My Friendly Critics," Soliloquies in England (1922), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The brute necessity of believing something so long as life lasts does not justify any belief in particular,
-- George Santayana, Skepticism and Animal Faith (1923), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

There is a kind of courtesy in skepticism. It would be an offense against polite conventions to press our doubts too far.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, "Reason in Common Sense," ch. 4 (1905-6), quoted from Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The more rational an institution is the less it suffers by making concessions to others.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, "Reason in Science," ch. 9 (1905-6), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

The body is an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its operation.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, "Reason in Common Sense," ch. 9 (1905-6), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Parents lend children their experience and a vicarious memory; children endow their parents with a vicarious immortality.
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, "Reason in Society," ch. 2 (1905-6; rev. ed., 1953), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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.
-- George Santayana, Winds of Doctrine (1913; repr. in Little Essays, "The Intellect Out of Fashion," ed. by Logan Pearsall Smith, 1920), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Life is judged with all the blindness of life itself.
-- George Santayana (attributed: source unknown)

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