Character And Opinion In The United States

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $6.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 80%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (7) from $6.00   
  • New (3) from $32.42   
  • Used (4) from $6.00   


George Santayana was one of the most influential twentieth-century philosophers. Because of his broad-ranging interests and lack of any permanent home in one particular country, he has often been stereotyped as a meditative philosopher removed from the world, living in what he himself called the "realm of spirit" among eternal essences. While there is some truth in this characterization, it is also true that Santayana was a penetrating analyst and critic of contemporary societies.

Character and Opinion in the United States is his comprehensive critique of American thought and civilization and reflects the detached cosmopolitan perspective that lent his criticism its characteristic objectivity and strength. Santayana's subject here is the conflict of materialism and idealism in American life. In his view there exists a dualism in the American mind: One side, dealing with religion, literature, philosophy, and morality, tended to stay with inherited, old doctrines-the genteel tradition-and failed to keep pace with the other, practical side and its new developments in industry, invention, and social organization. Santayana traces the first mentality to Calvinism and its sense of sin, an attitude out of keeping with a new civilization and the dominance of practical interests.

As a consequence of separating philosophy from everyday life, its study merely served religious and moral interests cut off from the free search for truth. At the heart of the book is Santayana's examination of the influential thought of William James and Josiah Royce, who typified for him the dilemma of American thought.

The subordination of thought to social form and custom underlies Santayana's sharp critique of academic philosophy at Harvard where he early on studied and taught. He was disturbed by the very idea of philosophy as an academic discipline. Philosophy, he felt, should be an individual, original creation, "something dark, perilous, untested, and not ripe to be taught" Santayana's analysis of how social imperatives may impede the pursuit of knowledge remains pertinent to contemporary intellectual debate. This volume »ill be of interest to philosophers, intellectual historians, and American studies specialists.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887388903
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Series: History of Ideas Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 282
  • Sales rank: 1,082,135
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

George Santayana (1863-1952) was a professor of philosophy at Harvard University. Expressing a theme that remained a lifelong characteristic, he explains why he gave up “academic lumber” and went into retirement. The pursuit of pure philosophy became his revolt against intellectual dissolution and anarchy. His writings were substantial, including a five-volume work, The Life of Reason, and a four-volume work,Realms of Being.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)