The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress

The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Introduction and Reason in Common Sense, Volume VII, Book One

GEORGE SANTAYANA
Marianne S. Wokeck
Martin A. Coleman
with an Introduction by James Gouinlock
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 408
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhk7j
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  • Book Info
    The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress
    Book Description:

    Santayana's Life of Reason, 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 first book of the work, Santayana provides an account of how the human animal develops instinct, passion, and chaotic experience into rationality and ideal life. Inspired by Aristotle's De Anima, Darwin's evolutionary theory, and William James's The Principles of Psychology, Santayana contends that the requirements of action in a hazardous and uncertain environment are the sources of the development of mind. More specifically, instinct and imagination are crucial to the emergence of reason from chaos. Separating himself from the typical thought of the time by his recognition of the imagination, Santayana in this volume offers extensive critiques of various philosophies of mind, including those of Kant and the British empiricists. This Critical Edition, volume VII of The Works of George Santayana, 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 Reason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30358-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. GEORGE SANTAYANA: THE LIFE OF REASON AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xiii-lii)
    JAMES GOUINLOCK

    Santayana’sLife 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,” but a workable understanding of the idea is indispensable to an appreciation of Santayana’s achievement. The meanings of naturalism cluster around a certain nucleus, which might seem innocent enough but in historical fact is radical. The core idea is this: Any philosophy that would bring clarity and resource to human existence and fructify...

  5. Table of Contents based on Scribner’s first edition (1905)
    (pp. liii-lviii)
  6. Introduction and Reason in Common Sense critical edition text
    • INTRODUCTION THE SUBJECT OF THIS WORK, ITS METHOD AND ANTECEDENTS
      (pp. 1-20)

      Whatever forces may govern human life, if they are to be recognised by man, must betray themselves in human experience. Progress in science or religion, no less than in morals and art, is a dramatic episode in man’s career, a welcome variation in his habit and state of mind; although this variation may often regard or propitiate things external, adjustment to which may be important for his welfare. The importance of these external things, as well as their existence, he can establish only by the function and utility which a recognition of them may have in his life. The entire...

    • REASON IN COMMON SENSE
      • CHAPTER I THE BIRTH OF REASON
        (pp. 23-30)

        Whether Chaos or Order lay at the beginning of things is a question once much debated in the schools but afterward long in abeyance, not so much because it had been solved as because one party had been silenced by social pressure. The question is bound to recur in an age when observation and dialectic again freely confront each other. Naturalists look back to chaos since they observe everything growing from seeds and shifting its character in regeneration. The order now established in the world may be traced back to a situation in which it did not appear. Dialecticians, on...

      • CHAPTER II FIRST STEPS AND FIRST FLUCTUATIONS
        (pp. 31-40)

        Consciousness is a born hermit. Though subject, by divine dispensation, to spells of fervour and apathy, like a singing bird, it is at first quite unconcerned about its own conditions or maintenance. To acquire a notion of such matters, or an interest in them, it would have to lose its hearty simplicity and begin to reflect; it would have to forget the present with its instant joys in order laboriously to conceive the absent and the hypothetical. The body may be said to make for self-preservation, since it has an organic equilibrium which, when not too rudely disturbed, restores itself...

      • CHAPTER III THE DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS
        (pp. 41-52)

        At first sight it might seem an idle observation that the first task of intelligence is to represent the environing reality, a reality actually represented in the notion, universally prevalent among men, of a cosmos in space and time, an animated material engine called nature. In trying to conceive nature the mind lisps its first lesson; natural phenomena are the mother tongue of imagination no less than of science and practical life. Men and gods are not conceivable otherwise than as inhabitants of nature. Early experience knows no mystery which is not somehow rooted in transformations of the natural world,...

      • CHAPTER IV ON SOME CRITICS OF THIS DISCOVERY
        (pp. 53-72)

        The English psychologists who first disintegrated the idea of substance, and whose traces we have in general followed in the above account, did not study the question wholly for its own sake or in the spirit of a science that aims at nothing but a historical analysis of mind. They had a more or less malicious purpose behind their psychology. They thought that if they could once show how metaphysical ideas are made they would discredit those ideas and banish them for ever from the world. If they retained confidence in any notion—as Hobbes in body, Locke in matter...

      • CHAPTER V NATURE UNIFIED AND MIND DISCERNED
        (pp. 73-84)

        When the mind has learned to distinguish external objects and to attribute to them a constant size, shape, and potency, in spite of the variety and intermittence ruling in direct experience, there yet remains a great work to do before attaining a clear, even if superficial, view of the world. An animal’s customary habitat may have constant features and their relations in space may be learned by continuous exploration; but probably many other landscapes are also within the range of memory and fancy that stand in no visible relation to the place in which we find ourselves at a given...

      • CHAPTER VI DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS
        (pp. 85-98)

        When a ghostly sphere, containing memory and all ideas, has been distinguished from the material world, it tends to grow at the expense of the latter, until nature is finally reduced to a mathematical skeleton. This skeleton itself, but for the need of a bridge to connect calculably episode with episode in experience, might be transferred to mind and identified with the scientific thought in which it is represented. But a scientific theory inhabiting a few scattered moments of life cannot connect those episodes among which it is itself the last and the least substantial; nor would such a notion...

      • CHAPTER VII CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE AND IN EXISTENCE
        (pp. 99-112)

        Ideas of material objects ordinarily absorb the human mind, and their prevalence has led to the rash supposition that ideas of all other kinds are posterior to physical ideas and drawn from the latter by a process of abstraction. The table, people said, was a particular and single reality; its colour, form, and material were parts of its integral nature, qualities which might be attended to separately, perhaps, but which actually existed only in the table itself. Colour, form, and material were therefore abstract elements. They might come before the mind separately and be contrasted objects of attention, but they...

      • CHAPTER VIII ON THE RELATIVE VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS
        (pp. 113-124)

        Those who look back upon the history of opinion for many centuries commonly feel, by a vague but profound instinct, that certain consecrated doctrines have an inherent dignity and spirituality, while other speculative tendencies and other vocabularies seem wedded to all that is ignoble and shallow. So fundamental is this moral tone in philosophy that people are usually more firmly convinced that their opinions are precious than that they are true. They may avow, in reflective moments, that they may be in error, seeing that thinkers of no less repute have maintained opposite opinions, but they are commonly absolutely sure...

      • CHAPTER IX HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL
        (pp. 125-142)

        Nothing is more natural or more congruous with all the analogies of experience than that animals should feel and think. The relation of mind to body, of reason to nature, seems to be actually this: when bodies have reached a certain complexity and vital equilibrium, a sense begins to inhabit them which is focussed upon the preservation of that body and on its reproduction. This sense, as it becomes reflective and expressive of physical welfare, points more and more to its own persistence and harmony, and generates the Life of Reason. Nature is reason’s basis and theme; reason is nature’s...

      • CHAPTER X THE MEASURE OF VALUES IN REFLECTION
        (pp. 143-154)

        To put value in pleasure and pain, regarding a given quantity of pain as balancing a given quantity of pleasure, is to bring to practical ethics a worthy intention to be clear and, what is more precious, an undoubted honesty not always found in those moralists who maintain the opposite opinion and care more for edification than for truth. For in spite of all logical and psychological scruples, conduct that should not justify itself somehow by the satisfactions secured and the pains avoided would not justify itself at all. The most instinctive and unavoidable desire is forthwith chilled if you...

      • CHAPTER XI SOME ABSTRACT CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL
        (pp. 155-162)

        Reason’s function is to embody the good, but the test of excellence is itself ideal; therefore before we can assure ourselves that reason has been manifested in any given case we must make out the reasonableness of the ideal that inspires us. And in general, before we can convince ourselves that a Life of Reason, or practice guided by science and directed toward spiritual goods, is at all worth having, we must make out the possibility and character of its ultimate end. Yet each ideal is its own justification; so that the only sense in which an ultimate end can...

      • CHAPTER XII FLUX AND CONSTANCY IN HUMAN NATURE
        (pp. 163-176)

        A conception of something called human nature arises not unnaturally on observing the passions of men, passions which under various disguises seem to reappear in all ages and countries. The tendency of Greek philosophy, with its insistence on general concepts, was to define this idea of human nature still further and to encourage the belief that a single and identical essence, present in all men, determined their powers and ideal destiny. Christianity, while it transposed the human ideal and dwelt on the superhuman affinities of man, did not abandon the notion of a specific humanity. On the contrary, such a...

  7. Chronology of the Life and Work of George Santayana
    (pp. 177-180)
  8. APPENDIX
    • PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
      (pp. 183-188)
    • List of variants between Reason in Common Sense (1905) and The Life of Reason (abridged one-volume edition)
      (pp. 189-200)
  9. EDITORIAL APPENDIX
  10. Index
    (pp. 319-344)