Scepticism and Animal Faith by George SantayanaIn this work, Santayana analyzes the nature of the knowing process and demonstrates by means of clear, powerful arguments how we know and what validates our knowledge. The central concept of his philosophy is found in a careful discrimination between the awareness of objects independent of our perception and the awareness of essences attributed to objects by our mind, or between what Santayana calls the realm of existents and the realm of subsistents. Since we can never be certain that these attributes actually inhere in a substratum of existents, skepticism is established as a form of belief, but animal faith is shown to be a necessary quality of the human mind. Without this faith there could be no rational approach to the necessary problem of understanding and surviving in this world.
Santayana derives this practical philosophy from a wide and fascinating variety of sources. He considers critically the positions of such philosophers as Descartes, Euclid, Hume, Kant, Parmenides, Plato, Pythagoras, Schopenhauer, and the Buddhist school as well as the assumptions made by the ordinary man in everyday situations. Such matters as the nature of belief, the rejection of classical idealism, the nature of intuition and memory, symbols and myth, mathematical reality, literary psychology, the discovery of essence, sublimation of animal faith, the implied being of truth, and many others are given detailed analyses in individual chapters.
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George Santayana, Rome 1944
George Santayana was an influential 20th century American thinker whose philosophy connected a rich diversity of historical perspectives, culminating in a unique and unrivaled form of materialism , one recommending a bold reconciliation of spirit and nature. Santayana was also a poet, and he wrote a work of fiction, The Last Puritan , that was a Book of the Month Club selection in , the same year he adorned the cover of Time magazine. Though he spent his formative intellectual life in America and ultimately is best categorized philosophically in that tradition, Santayana spent the better part of his life and publishing career in Europe. He spent his early childhood in his birth-country of Spain and throughout his expansive travels and residencies never relinquished his native citizenship. Scholarly interest in Santayana today remains modest but diverse. Santayana was a thinker of rare stature whose work deserves the highest compliment of all: it can and may well still be read millennia from now. George Santayana was born on December 16, in Madrid, Spain.