24 OVERHEARD IN SEVILLE
(3) each form is definite and final — leading to the view that integrity or
self-definition is and remains first and fundamental in morals. These three
elements are found in the marginal headings of Chapter XI, Persons and Places.
The headings have never been published, but they are restored in the critical
edition of Persons and Places to be published by MIT in 1985.
Champagne was then served, and toasts were offered by John Lachs of
Vanderbilt University and by Irving Singer of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. The two toasts also appear below. The audience was delighted with a
gracious response to these toasts from Robert Sturgis, a Boston architect, who is a
grand-nephew of Santayana. The chairman was Paul G. Kuntz, of Emory
to the Santayana Society's Santayana Anniversary Celebration
on behalf of the Harvard Department of Philosophy
It is a great honor to participate in the celebration of the 120th
anniversary of the birth of George Santayana. There is a sort of reflected
glory that one feels in celebrating the heroes of our profession.
Santayana's glory was a source of pride to American philosophers, and
that glory also reflected on Harvard University in a most pleasing way.
(We at Harvard have always felt that reflected glory is better than none.)
Of course, Santayana was, with James and Royce, a member of the Great
Department. On a more personal plane, let me mention that there were
three philosophers I read avidly in college who were not assigned in any
of my courses: Santayana, James and Kierkegaard! It is bitter to reflect
that I was trained to think that the appeal of all three was due to
something other than a contribution to "philosophy" (and a sad example
of the blindness that philosophical factionalism can induce).
It seems to me that there is something highly paradoxical about
Santayana's present position in philosophy. He was, in many ways, far
ahead of his time; yet he has not been acknowledged or "rediscovered*.
Like many philosophers of our own time he was (or said he was) a
materialist ("I am a materialist — apparently the only one living*, he wrote
ruefully) and, if not quite an "eliminationist* with respect to the mental,
he was (or said he was) an epiphenomenalist. Why he remains deified
rather than studied is a question to which I shall return. The fact is that
even in his own time Santayana was not universally appreciated. James
once described Santayana's philosophy as "the perfection of rottenness*.1
The key to the ambivalence (in James' case it was more than
ambivalence) seems to me to be Santayana's enormous purity.2 Purity, of
1 The Letters of William fames, ed. by his son Henry James, Vol. IL, p. 122 (Boston, 1920).
2 Paul Kuntz has suggested to me (in a letter) that the tempermental disagreement
between James and Santayana is, at bottom, the disagreement between an active "Protestant*
sensibility and a contemplative "Catholic* one. What I call "purity* here is closely related to
the ideal of contemplation. Kuntz's view may be confirmed by James* own description of the
philosophic disagreement at Harvard in 1900 ("... these are so many religions, ways of fronting
life, and worth fighting for*; letter cited note 1.)