The Life of Reason by George Santayana Summary
Santayana's Life of Reason, published in five books from 1905 to 1906, ranks as oneof the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. Acknowledging the natural material basesof human life, Santayana traces the development of the human capacity for appreciating andcultivating the ideal. It is a capacity he exhibits as he articulates a continuity running throughanimal impulse, practical intelligence, and ideal harmony in reason, society, art, religion, andscience. The work is an exquisitely rendered vision of human life lived sanely. In this first bookof the work, Santayana provides an account of how the human animal develops instinct, passion, andchaotic experience into rationality and ideal life. Inspired by Aristotle's De Anima, Darwin'sevolutionary theory, and William James's The Principles of Psychology, Santayana contends that therequirements of action in a hazardous and uncertain environment are the sources of the developmentof mind. More specifically, instinct and imagination are crucial to the emergence of reason fromchaos. Separating himself from the typical thought of the time by his recognition of theimagination, 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 Worksof George Santayana, includes a chronology, notes, bibliography, textual commentary, lists ofvariants, and other tools useful to Santayana scholars. The other four books of the volume includeReason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science.