The Essential Santayana

The Essential Santayana

Selected Writings
Edited by Santayana Edition
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/26/2009
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22105-6
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Although he was born in Spain, George Santayana (1863–1952) became a uniquely American philosopher, critic, poet, and best-selling novelist. Along with his Harvard colleagues William James and Josiah Royce, he is best known as one of the founders of American pragmatism and recognized for his insights into the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and moral philosophy. The Essential Santayana presents a selection of Santayana's most important and influential literary and philosophical work. Martin A. Coleman's critical introduction sets Santayana into the American philosophical tradition and provides context for contemporary readers, many of whom may be approaching Santayana's writings for the first time. This landmark collection reveals the intellectual and literary diversity of one of American philosophy's most lively minds.

Author Bio

Martin A. Coleman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Associate Editor of the Santayana Edition at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.


“This landmark collection reveals the intellectual and literary diversity of one of American philosophy's most lively minds in one volume. ”

“Having emerged from the abyss of literary death, Santayana now stands ready to assume his rightful place among the truly important philosophers of the last several hundred years.”
 — John Lachs, Vanderbilt University

“From the selections included, one can find many that alone would justify the price of the volume. There are insightful essays on James, on Royce, on Emerson, on Nietzsche, and on the Renaissance humanists. The editors of this volume set out to select, in their words, "works based on their traditional influence and popularity, their representativeness with respect to Santayana's philosophical vision, or their importance according to Santayana's comments in his correspondence." One must say that they have succeeded admirably.”
 — Review of Metaphysics

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Table of Contents

Chronology of the Life and Work of George Santayana
List of Bibliographical Abbreviations
Introduction: The Essential Santayana

Part 1. Autobiography
A General Confession
My Place, Time, and Ancestry
Epilogue on My Host, the World

Part 2. Skepticism and Ontology
Philosophical Heresy
Preface [Scepticism and Animal Faith]
There Is No First Principle of Criticism
Dogma and Doubt
Wayward Scepticism
Ultimate Scepticism
Nothing Given Exists
The Discovery of Essence
The Watershed of Criticism
Knowledge Is Faith Mediated by Symbols
Belief in Substance
Literary Psychology
The Implied Being of Truth
Comparison with Other Criticisms of Knowledge
Normal Madness
Some Meanings of the Word "Is"
Preface to Realms of Being
Various Approaches to Essence
The Being Proper to Essences
The Scope of Natural Philosophy
Indispensable Properties of Substance
The Psyche
There Are No Necessary Truths
Facts Arbitrary, Logic Ideal
Interplay between Truth and Logic
Dramatic Truth
Moral Truth
Love and Hatred of Truth
Denials of Truth

Part 3. Rational Life in Art, Religion, and Spirituality
The Elements and Function of Poetry
The Birth of Reason
How Religion May Be an Embodiment of Reason
Justification of Art
The Criterion of Taste
Art and Happiness
Ultimate Religion
The Nature of Spirit

Part 4. Ethics and Politics
Prerational Morality
Rational Ethics
Post-rational Morality
Hypostatic Ethics
Public Opinion
Government of the People
Who Are "The People"?
The United States as Leader
Conclusion [Dominations and Powers]

Part 5. Literature, Culture, and Criticism
Sonnet III
To W. P.
Prologue [The Last Puritan]
Epilogue [The Last Puritan]
The Poetry of Barbarism
The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy
English Liberty