The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress

The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Society, Volume VII, Book Two

Marianne S. Wokeck
Martin A. Coleman
with an Introduction by James Gouinlock
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: CRI - Critical
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress
    Book Description:

    Santayana'sLife 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 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 ofThe 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 includeReason in Common Sense, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, andReason in Science.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31466-4
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-lii)

    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-lvi)
  6. Reason in Society critical edition text
      (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, which once written out cannot grow different and once rendered can ask for nothing but, at most, to be rendered over again. In truth, however, man is an animal, a portion of the natural flux; and the consequence is that his nature has a moving centre, his functions an...

      (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. A child, half mystery and half plaything, comes to show us what we have done and to make its consequences perpetual. We see that by indulging our inclinations we have woven about us a net from which we cannot escape: our choices bearing fruit, begin to...

      (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. It was no small part of the extraordinary longing for progeny shown by patriarchal man that children were wealth, and that by continuing in life-long subjection to their father they lent prestige and power to his old age. The daughters drew water, the wives and...

      (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, becoming the basis of prolonged good fortune. Sometimes this initial advantage is a matter of natural structure, like talent, strength, or goodness; sometimes an accidental accretion, like breeding, instruction, or wealth. Such advantages grow by the opportunities they make; and it is...

      (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. The two differ widely, both in origin and in moral principle. Genetically considered, social democracy is something primitive, unintended, proper to communities where there is general competence and no marked personal eminence. It is the democracy of Arcadia, Switzerland, and the American pioneers. Such a community might be said to have also a democratic government,...

      (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. In marriage and the family, in industry, government, and war, attention is riveted on temporal existences, on the fortunes of particular bodies, natural or corporate. There is then a primacy of nature over spirit in social life; and this primacy, in a certain sense, endures to the end, since all spirit must be...

      (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; he is no less concerned, materially and ideally, in the fortunes of the community. If a sense for social relations is to endure, some symbol must take the place of the moving crowd, the visible stronghold, and the outspread fields...

      (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. Wanton hostilities would waste ammunition and idle attachments would waste time. Yet it often happens that some of these beings, having something in common with creatures we are wont to notice, since we stand to them in sexual, parental, or hostile relations, cannot well go...

  7. Chronology of the Life and Work of George Santayana
    (pp. 129-132)
    • Variants to the Text of Reason in Society that Appear in the One-Volume Edition of The Life Of Reason
      (pp. 135-144)
  10. Index
    (pp. 231-250)