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Scepticism and animal faith : introduction to a system of philosophy ( 1923) by George Santayana

Scepticism and animal faith

George Santayana



Here is one more system of philosophy. If the reader is tempted to smile, I can assure him that I smile with him, and that my system to which this volume is a critical introduction differs widely in spirit and pretensions from what usually goes by that name. 

In the first place, my system is not mine, nor new. I am merely attempting to express for the reader the principles to which he appeals when he smiles. There are convictions in the depths of his soul, beneath all his overt parrot beliefs, on which I would build our friendship.


 I have great respect for orthodoxy ; not for those orthodoxies which prevail in particular schools or nations, and which vary from age to age, but for a certain shrewd orthodoxy which the senti ment and practice of laymen maintain everywhere. I think that common sense, in a rough dogged way, is technically sounder than the special schools of philo sophy, 

each of which squints and overlooks half the facts and half the difficulties in its eagerness to find in some detail the key to the whole. 

I am animated by distrust of all high guesses, and by sympathy with the old prejudices and workaday opinions of man kind : they are ill expressed, but they are well grounded. What novelty my version of things may possess is meant simply to obviate occasions for sophistry by giving to everyday beliefs a more accurate and circum spect form. 

I do not pretend to place myself at the heart of the universe nor at its origin, nor to draw its periphery. I would lay siege to the truth only as animal exploration and fancy may do so, first from one quarter and then from another, expecting the reality to be not simpler than my experience of it, but far more extensive and complex. I stand in philosophy exactly where I stand, in daily life ; I should not be honest otherwise.I accept the same miscellaneous witnesses, bow to the same obvious facts, make conjectures no less instinctively, and admit the same encircling ignorance)

Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known in English as George Santayana, was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. Originally from Spain, Santayana was raised and educated in the US from the age of eight and identified himself as an American, although he always retained a valid Spanish passport

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