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By T.L.S. Sprigge

This vintage examine of Santayana was once the 1st e-book to seem within the Arguments of the Philosophers sequence. becoming curiosity within the paintings of this crucial American thinker has brought on this re-creation of the ebook, whole with a brand new preface via the writer reassessing his personal rules approximately Santayana. the recent version additionally encompasses a worthy opt for bibliography of works released approximately Santayana because the book's first visual appeal.

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It would be silly to think that Santayana’s style requires apology. I only note that as a matter of fact it does seem to put of f some people who would surely find the actual intellectual content of Santayana’s thought highly instructive. In any case, sharp reasoner though he was, Santayana held a different view of the place of argumentation in philosophy from that of most ‘professional’ philosophers. Reasoning, he held, is a preparation for vision rather than an end in itself. Consider his remarks upon philosophical poetry as exemplified by Lucretius, Dante, and Goethe: If we think of philosophy as an investigation into truth, or as reasoning upon truths supposed to be discovered, there is nothing in philosophy akin to poetry.

Such classifications as ‘poetic quietism’ and ‘idealistic activism’ are really very crude terms in which to think of a philosophy so rich, complex, many sided and balanced, as that of Santayana. It has been said that the sanity of Santayana is more frightening than the madness of others,20 and if there is truth in this remark, it is precisely because he always refused to be pushed into any conventional classification of thinkers such as automatically carries with it some set of conventional allegiances.

Here surely Santayana is at one with Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Bradley and Whitehead, to mention only a few who could hardly be jettisoned from the philosophical pantheon even by the driest of conceptual analysts. I do not wish, at this point, to engage in debate on the proper scope of philosophy. There is no doubt that in the case of Santayana an imaginative vision of the world, a way of life, and a set of opinions on matters which the most academic of academic contemporar y philosophers would admit as belonging to his specialism, are found in close connection with one another, but whether this is a good thing or a bad thing does not affect one point which I am especially anxious to make: namely that Santayana’s views are important and relevant to the settling of the problems of philosophy viewed in the narrowest manner, and that the current feeling, right or wrong, that philosophy of life is one thing, and philosophy as a specialist intellectual discipline is another, has prevented recognition of this fact, by creating a sense that Santayana’s work is not worth the serious attention of the professional or academic philosopher.

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