To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.
Don't already have an Oxford Academic account? Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.
It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation.
Physical order and moral liberty: previously unpublished essays of George Santayana
Volume Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Article PDF first page preview. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. Sign in.
You could not be signed in. Sign In Forgot password? That it is terribly superstitious and turns all physics into magic is an integral part of its poetic and expressive virtue. Every passion, every force, must be a devil or an angel, because it is agreed to begin with we are looking for the spirit in things.
Free reflection about everything is a habit to be imitated, but not a subject to expound; and an original system, if the philosopher has one, is something dark, perilous, untested, and not ripe to be taught, nor is there much danger that any one will learn it. All Saint Bernard could mean, then, is that happiness lies in this substitution of an ideal for a natural society, in converse with thoughts rather than with things.
To substitute the society of ideas for that of things is simply to live in the mind ; it is to survey the world of existences in its truth and beauty rather than in its personal perspectives, or with practical urgency. It is the sole path to happiness for the intellectual man, because the intellectual man cannot be satisfied with a world of perpetual change, defeat, and imperfection. It is the path trodden by ancient philosophers and modern saints or poets ; not, of course, by modern writers on philosophy except Spinoza , because these have not been philosophers in the vital sense ; they have practised no spiritual discipline, suffered no change of heart, but lived on exactly like other professors, and exerted themselves to prove the existence of a God favourable to their own desires, instead of searching for the God that happens to exist.
It is not politics that can bring true liberty to the soul; that must be achieved, if at all, by philosophy. True philosophy, of course, is built on science and is only an extension of science. Moral philosophy is not a science. There has been progress in [the history of philosophy]; if we start with the first birth of intelligence and assume that the end pursued is to understand the world, the progress has been immense.
In philosophy there is always a moral element, a view of life, which will make the scientific element subordinate.
Philosophy fell into the same snare when in modern times it ceased to be the art of thinking and tried to become that impossible thing, the science of thought. I can only surmise what it might have been. It is an object of literary psychology. The whole of British and German philosophy is only literature.
Far from purging the mind and strengthening it, that it might gain a clearer and more stable vision of the world, these critics have bewildered it. The business of a philosopher is [ ] to be a good shepherd of his thoughts. By the philosopher [ ] both the homeliest brew and the most meticulous science are only relished as food for the spirit. Even if defeated in the pursuit of truth, the spirit may be victorious in self-expression and self-knowledge; and if a philosopher could be nothing else, he might still be a moralist and a poet.
Science expresses in human terms our dynamic relation to surrounding reality. Philosophies and religions, where they do not misrepresent these same dynamic relations and do not contradict science, express destiny in moral dimensions, in obviously mythical and poetical images: but how else should these moral truths be expressed at all in a traditional or popular fashion? Religions are the great fairy-tales of the conscience.
A George Santayana Home Page
Consequently there is no opposition in my mind between materialism and a Platonic or even Indian discipline of the spirit. The recognition of the material world and of the conditions of existence in it merely enlightens the spirit concerning the source of its troubles and the means to its happiness or deliverance: and it was happiness or deliverance, the supervening supreme expression of human will and imagination, that alone really concerned me.
This alone was genuine philosophy: this alone was the life of reason. All philosophies are frail, in that they are products of the human mind, in which everything is essentially reactive, spontaneous, and volatile: but as in passion and in language, so in philosophy, there are certain comparatively steady and hereditary principles, forming a sort of orthodox reason, which is or which may become the current grammar of mankind.
All modern philosophy, in so far as it is a description of experience and not of nature, therefore seems to belong to the sphere of literature, and to be without scientific value. The use of philosophy, and in particular of the discrimination of essence, is to distil the wine out of those trodden grapes, in order that in whatever kind of world we may be living, we may live freely in the spirit. My philosophy neither is nor wishes to be scientific; not even in the sense in which, in temper and method, the Summa of St.
Thomas might be called scientific. My philosophy is like that of the ancients a discipline of the mind and heart, a lay religion.
- The avant-garde’s visual arts in the context of Santayana’s idea of vital liberty : Human Affairs.
- Philosophy | Strand Books?
- Economic and Financial Analysis for Engineering and Project Management.
- GEORGE SANTAYANA.
- Mack the Life: The Autobiography.
- Earth System Modelling - Volume 5: Tools for Configuring, Building and Running Models.
Physics, not metaphysics [logical, moral, or psychological figments turned into substances or powers and placed beneath or behind the material world, to create, govern, or explain it], therefore reveals to us, as far as it goes, the foundations of things ; and ontology is a subsequent excursus of the mind, as in non-Euclidean geometry, over all that the facts may suggest to the fancy.
Indeed, my endeavor in putting [my philosophy] into words has been to retreat to the minimum beliefs and radical presuppositions implied in facing a world at all or professing to know anything: beliefs and presuppositions that it is impossible for me to deny honestly, although I may seldom or never have conceived them clearly. In politics the philosopher is spared many a pitfall that he might walk into in physics and biology; his field is limited to human affairs. He need not trouble himself with truths deeper than conventional truths.
He has to consider real events and real forces, which are all physical, even when they have a mental and moral accompaniment. In this sense he is a man of science, with the responsibilities of an inquirer after the truth, and not, in intention, a composer of historical romances.
Project MUSE - Physical Order and Moral Liberty: Previously Unpublished Essays (review)
Yet his contact with the facts need not go deeper than the contacts which other people have had with them, or may have on other occasions. In this sense his field coincides with that of the historical novelist or literary psychologist. He is composing a drama as it might have been lived. But there is this difference: that his interest, if he is not a party man, is not chiefly emotional or centred in the episodes of the drama itself, as glorious or pitiful; his interest is philosophical and passes from the picturesque surface of those experiences to the causes and conditions that brought them about.
My book does not pretend to be a mere description, in physics and history; it is philosophical ; that is, it selects and compares features in both directions, as they appear from a cosmic point of view. Now my cosmic point of view, from which I seem to myself to discover the origins and mutual relations of these chosen facts and judgements, is naturalistic. Yolton, Rome, August 20, [ ]. There are three traps that strangle philosophy: the Church, the marriage-bed, and the professor's chair.
I cannot understand what satisfaction a philosopher can find in artifices, or in deceiving himself and others. I therefore like to call myself a materialist; but I leave the study and also the worship of matter to others, and my later writings have been devoted to discovering the natural categories of my spontaneous thought, and restating my opinions in those honest terms. It is essentially a literary labour, a form of art; and I do not attempt to drive other people to think as I do. Let them be their own poets.
Related Physical order and moral liberty: previously unpublished essays of George Santayana
Copyright 2019 - All Right Reserved