A George Santayana Home Page

Superficiality of the Actual

Definitions
Use of moral
Isms

Philosophy
Essence / existence
Categories
Truth as category

Metaphysics
Existence
Spirit incarnate
Epi-phenomenalism
Virtual knowledge
Mind function of body

Superficial will
Human nature
Relativity of morals
Law & government
Reason & spirit
Free will

Americanism
Catholicism
Protestantism
British philosophy
False steps


©1996-2017 T. P. Davis

From The Letters of George Santayana

Consciousness is a local and occasional ebulition like the hiccough.

Letters 1:114 (To Charles Augustus Strong, Ávila, August 10, 1890) [#521 1890]

From The Letters of George Santayana

The truth is [that] the world is not governed by men, but by God or by subterranean forces that are hardly represented in consciousness, and not at all in our wills.

Letters 2:311 (To Mary Potter Bush, Oxford, March 2, 1918) [#522 1918]

From Character and Opinion in the United States

Of course, for any one who thinks naturalistically (as the British empiricists did in the beginning, like every unsophisticated mortal), psychology is the description of a very superficial and incidental complication in the animal kingdom: it treats of the curious sensibility and volatile thoughts awakened in the mind by the growth and fortunes of the body.

Character & Opinion at 25 (The Moral Background) [#793 1920]

From The Realm of Matter: Book Second of Realms of Being

Organic life is a circular trope which at each repetition touches or approaches a point which we regard as its culmination, and call maturity. In man, maturity involves feelings, intentions, and spiritual light: but it is idle to regard the whole trope as governed by these top moments in it, which are more highly conditioned, volatile, and immaterial than are their organs, their occasions, or their fruits.

Matter at 125 (Teleology) [#526 1930]

From The Realm of Matter: Book Second of Realms of Being

Not that these moments of spirit, these mental notes and mental vistas, are the psychic life in question. They form a thin flux of consciousness, chiefly verbal in most of us, which in reflective moods becomes self-consciousness, recollection, autobiography, and literature: all only the topmost synthesis, or play of shooting relations, on the surface of the unconscious.

Matter at 152 (The Psyche) [#611 1930]

From The Realm of Matter: Book Second of Realms of Being

I am not tempted seriously to regard consciousness as the very essence of life or even of being. On the contrary, both my personal experience and the little I know of nature at large absolutely convince me that consciousness is the most highly conditioned of existences, an overtone of psychic strains, mutations, and harmonies; nor does its origin seem more mysterious to me than that of everything else.

Matter at 154-155 (The Psyche) [#613 1930]

From The Philosophy of George Santayana

[W]e are much deeper and more deeply bound to physical reality than our wayward thoughts and wishes might suggest. The potential, in an organic being developing through time, is necessarily richer and more important than the actual. The actual is superficial, occasional, ephemeral; present will and present consciousness are never the true self.

Schilpp's Phil. of G.S. at 25 (A General Confession) [#523 1936]

From The Philosophy of George Santayana

Naturalism and humanism mean order and firm precept for a man who believes in an ordered universe and a moderately stable human nature; but for a man who thinks his passing ideas and wishes absolute, they mean anarchy. . . .

Schilpp's Phil. of G.S. at 559 (Apologia Pro Mente Sua) [#524 1940]


Number of quotations (including supressed): 8


The premise that human nature conjoined with nature at large ground morality implies that actuality, or consciousness and will, is morally more superficial than potentiality. The quotations here gathered touch on this implication.



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