Trust a philosopher to come up with a good recipe for wisdom. Writer George Santayana (1863-1952) was born on this day in Madrid, Spain. His elderly parents, he said were "more like grandparents...in many ways;" his mother was 37 and his father, 51.
In 1872, his family moved from "the complex passions and intrigues" of Spanish life to Boston. "An ideal cannot wait for its realization to prove its validity," he once said.
Santayana graduated from Harvard (1886), then taught philosophy there, influencing such famous writers as T.S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein. Drawn to philosophy for "ingenious thinking," he believed a high value should be put on pleasure and sought solitude throughout his life.
"Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness," he wrote.
With a passion for travel and to learn more about life's possibilities, in 1912 Santayana took advantage of a small inheritance, retired, and moved to Oxford, then Paris, then Rome, which he described as "a most congenial place for me in every way."
A master of the eloquent epigram who considered himself a perennial student, he said: "It is wisdom to believe the heart."
He celebrated the creative imagination and wrote with versatility and distinction about America and Europe. His credits include over 20 volumes of philosophy, poetry, criticism, a best-selling novel, The Last Puritan (1935), and a three-volume autobiography.
"Those who do not remember the past," he said wisely, "are condemned to repeat it."
More George SANTAYANA Quotations
Wisdom comes with a smile.