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The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress

Reason in Society, Volume VII, Book Two

George Santayana

Publication Year: 2013

Santayana's <I>Life of Reason</I>, published in five books from 1905 to 1906, ranks as one of the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. Acknowledging the natural material bases of human life, Santayana traces the development of the human capacity for appreciating and cultivating the ideal. It is a capacity he exhibits as he articulates a continuity running through animal impulse, practical intelligence, and ideal harmony in reason, society, art, religion, and science. The work is an exquisitely rendered vision of human life lived sanely.In this second book, Santayana analyzes several distinctive forms of human association, from political and economic orders to forms of friendship, to determine what possibilities they provide for the life of reason. He considers, among other topics, love and the affinity for the ideal, the family, aristocracy and democracy, the constituents of genuinely free friendship (including that of husband and wife), patriotism, and the ideal society of kindred spirits.This Critical Edition, volume VII of <I>The Works of George Santayana</I>, includes a chronology, notes, bibliography, textual commentary, lists of variants, and other tools useful to Santayana scholars. The other four books of the volume include <I>Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Religion, Reason in Ar</I>t, and <I>Reason in Science</I>.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: The Works of George Santayana


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Series Pages

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The research and editorial work on the critical edition of George Santayana’s five-volume Life of Reason has spanned a number of years, and, therefore, several institutions and many individuals have been involved in its completion. The editors are extremely grateful for their important contributions to and generous assistance in the preparation of this volume. ...

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pp. xiii-lii

Santayana’s Life of Reason, published in five volumes, 1905–6, is one of the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. It proved to be a major stimulus to the revitalization of philosophy in America, and its value continues today. There is no canonical definition of “philosophical naturalism,” ...

Table of Contents based on Scribner’s first edition (1905)

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pp. liii-lviii

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Chapter I. Love

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pp. 3-22

If man were a static or intelligible being, such as angels are thought to be, his life would have a single guiding interest, under which all other interests would be subsumed. His acts would explain themselves without looking beyond his given essence, and his soul would be like a musical composition, ...

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Chapter II. The Family

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pp. 23-38

Love is but a prelude to life, an overture in which the theme of the impending work is exquisitely hinted at, but which remains nevertheless only a symbol and a promise. What is to follow, if all goes well, begins presently to appear. Passion settles down into possession, courtship into partnership, pleasure into habit. ...

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Chapter III. Industry, Government, and War

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pp. 39-56

We have seen that the family, an association useful in rearing the young, may become a means of further maintenance and defence. It is the first economic and the first military group. Children become servants, and servants, being adopted and brought up in the family, become like other children and supply the family’s growing wants. ...

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Chapter IV. The Aristocratic Ideal

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pp. 57-72

“To him that hath shall be given,” says the Gospel, representing as a principle of divine justice one that undoubtedly holds in earthly economy. A not dissimilar observation is made in the proverb: “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” Indeed, some trifling acquisition often gives an animal an initial advantage which may easily roll up and increase prodigiously, ...

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Chapter V. Democracy

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pp. 73-86

The word democracy may stand for a natural social equality in the body politic or for a constitutional form of government in which power lies more or less directly in the people’s hands. The former may be called social democracy and the latter democratic government. ...

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Chapter VI. Free Society

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pp. 87-100

Natural society unites beings in time and space; it fixes affection on those creatures on which we depend and to which our action must be adapted. Natural society begins at home and radiates over the world, as more and more things become tributary to our personal being. ...

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Chapter VII. Patriotism

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pp. 101-114

The mythical social idea most potent over practical minds is perhaps the idea of country. When a tribe, enlarged and domiciled, has become a state, much social feeling that was before evoked by things visible loses its sensuous object. Yet each man remains no less dependent than formerly on his nation, although less swayed by its visible presence and example; ...

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Chapter VIII. Ideal Society

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pp. 115-128

To many beings—to almost all that people the earth and sky—each soul is not attached by any practical interest. Some are too distant to be perceived; the proximity of others passes unnoticed. It is far from requisite, in pursuing safety, that every strange animal be regarded as either a friend or an enemy. ...


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pp. 129-132


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pp. 133-134

List of variants between Reason in Society (1905) and The Life of Reason (abridged one-volume edition)

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pp. 135-144

Editorial Appendix

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pp. 145-230


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pp. 231-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780262314664
E-ISBN-10: 0262314665
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262019590

Page Count: 306
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The Works of George Santayana