George Santayana

George Santayana
A line drawing of the face and upper torso of George Santayana as a middle-aged man. He is balding, wearing a suit, and looking away from the viewer to the right.
A drawing of George Santayana from the early 20th century
BornJorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás
(1863-12-16)December 16, 1863
Madrid, Spain
DiedSeptember 26, 1952(1952-09-26) (aged 88)
Rome, Italy
NationalitySpanish
Alma mater
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
School
Notable ideas

Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known in English as George Santayana (ə/;[1] December 16, 1863 – September 26, 1952), was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. Originally from Spain, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States from the age of eight and identified himself as an American, although he always kept a valid Spanish passport.[2] 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.

Santayana is popularly known for aphorisms, such as "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it",[3] "Only the dead have seen the end of war",[4] and the definition of beauty as "pleasure objectified".[5] Although an atheist, he always treasured the Spanish Catholic values, practices, and worldview in which he was raised.[citation needed] Santayana was a broad-ranging cultural critic spanning many disciplines.

Early life

Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás was born on December 16, 1863, in Madrid, and he spent his early childhood in Ávila, Spain. His mother, Josefina Borrás, was the daughter of a Spanish official in the Philippines, and Jorge was the only child of her second marriage.

Josefina Borrás first husband was George Sturgis, a Boston merchant, with whom she had five children, two of whom died in infancy. She lived in Boston for a few years following her husband's death in 1857, but in 1861 moved with her three surviving children to live in Madrid. There she encountered Agustín Ruiz de Santayana, an old friend from her years in the Philippines. They married in 1862. A colonial civil servant, Ruiz de Santayana was also a painter and minor intellectual. The family lived in Madrid and Ávila.

In 1869 Josefina Borrás de Santayana returned to Boston with her three Sturgis children, because she had promised her first husband to raise the children in the United States. She left the six-year-old Jorge with his father in Spain. Jorge and his father followed her to Boston in 1872. However, his father, finding neither Boston nor his wife's attitude to his liking, soon returned alone to Ávila, and remained there the rest of his life. Jorge did not see him again until he entered Harvard College and began to take his summer vacations in Spain. Sometime during this period, Jorge's first name was anglicized as George, the English equivalent.

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