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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Materialist, atheist, cosmopolitan interpreter of moral and spiritual life, George Santayana (1863–1952) is one of the more enigmatic figures in American philosophy. Once internationally famous, he is today known primarily as the author of a handful of pithy quotations. In addition to writing philosophy, Santayana expressed himself in a variety of forms: autobiography, essays, poetry, cultural criticism, and a novel. But these literary pursuits, along with his rich, often aphoristic prose style, have produced the common impression that he is best classified as a writer and critic rather than as a philosopher in his own right. Those who have not seriously tested the waters of his philosophical writing often concur; they summarily conclude that his prose is polished, but he is not a serious philosopher.

Keywords: George Santayana, American philosophy, philosophical writing, autobiography, essays, poetry

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