On the 4th of April 2017, at the Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University, the Observatorio de la lengua española y las culturas hispánicas en los Estados Unidos , a panel met to discuss Santayana’s affiliation with the Observatorio. This conversation was moderated by Sean Kelly of Harvard’s Department of Philosophy. The occasion of this gathering couldn’t have been more propitious: to celebrate the completion of the critical edition of The Life of Reason (2011­­-2016), the five-volumes of Santayana’s work that have most influenced American naturalism.

Francisco Moreno Fernández, Director of the Observatorio, opened the event by quoting some of Santayana’s memories about Harvard (that are collected in Persons and Places). Then he introduced the participants of the round table.

The first speaker, Daniel Moreno, of the Instituto de Enseñanza Secundaria Miguel Servet, Zaragoza, Spain, remembered that Santayana finished The Life of Reason in 1906 and that the Santayana Edition finished its edition in 2016, 110 years later. Moreno spoke about Santayana as a classical philosopher who had made the conscious choice to live as a philosopher, and claimed that Santayana’s description of himself “as a thinker. . . born at the wrong time and bred in the wrong way”: a thinker who liked “to hope that someone may later revive parts of [his] philosophy in more favorable circumstances” had come true.

Professor Martin Coleman, Director and Editor of The Santayana Edition, spoke about The Life of Reason, its origin, relevance, and scope. For him, “Santayana thought ideas have symptomatic and expressive value, becoming rational as they harmonize with each other and as they adjust to facts.” Coleman explained the importance of the five volumes of the book: Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Society, Reason in Religion, Reason in Art, and Reason in Science, and explained that the chief value of the Critical Edition lies “in the stability and integrity of the text established through historical research and critical editing procedures.”

Professor John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, expressed his appreciation of the general view of The Life of Reason outlined by Coleman and decided not to deal with this book but to add to a fuller understanding of Santayana’s philosophy as a whole by speaking about Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923). For Lachs, this is one of the most important books of philosophy published during the last century. His comments about it captivated the attendees and the questions generated by Lach’s comments provided the opportunity to go in-depth into several aspects of Santayana’s philosophy.

The main conclusion of the dinner was that the next international congress about Santayana should be organized at Harvard, his “home” and the site of his teaching for so many years.

Professor Kelly closed the event by inviting the participants to visit the Department of Philosophy of Harvard, upon whose walls hang the famous pictures of its first members, including George Santayana.

~ Daniel Moreno
May 2017.  Zaragoza, Spain


The George Santayana Society has the opportunity to participate in the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing, China from August 13–20, 2018. The theme of the conference is “Learning to Be Human.” Santayana certainly had much to say about that topic, so it would be great to have several papers. At this point we don’t have a quorum. If we can gather either three confirmed speakers or five tentative speakers we shall go ahead and request a session. The final deadline for a group to submit an application is June 1. We shall decide on May 15 whether we have sufficient interest to apply for a session. If you think you might consider going, please write me as soon as possible at rmrubin@georgesantayanasociety.org.

Richard Rubin

Dear Friend of Santayana,

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is facing the possibility of elimination by the new presidential administration. 

The NEH has been extremely supportive of the Santayana Edition. Please contact the president and your members of congress to let them know that you support the NEH. 

You can learn about the proposed elimination and plans to stop it here.

Since Herman Saatkamp first began working in 1976 to establish the critical edition of Santayana’s works, the NEH has provided funding for research, equipment, and editorial salaries. Presently the NEH is providing $225,000 (and funds to match gifts) primarily for salaries for an editor and student interns through 2018. This is the sixteenth grant the Edition has received from the NEH. Please help ensure it is not the last. 

You can call and email today to oppose elimination of the NEH.


The Santayana Edition

Dear Friends of the George Santayana Society,

This is the last post in this series of news from the GSS for the start of 2017. We shall continue to keep you informed over the next few months.

Santayana in China

The George Santayana Society has the opportunity to participate in the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing, China from August 13-20, 2018. The theme of the conference is “Learning to Be Human.” Santayana certainly had much to say about that topic, so it would be great to have several papers addressing that topic, especially those that might address ideas about human liberty. To confirm a place, we need to have at three speakers. So far, we have two tentative speakers. If you have any inkling that you might be interested, please let me know.

Clarification: membership dues are not required to be on this mailing list

The notice at the bottom of this list says you receive it because of your membership in the George Santayana Society. Nevertheless, dues are not required in order to receive these letters and other notifications. Nor are they required to view and download copies of Overhead in Seville: The Bulletin of the George Santayana Society. You can have access to the latest issue at https://santayana.iupui.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2016-Bulletin-1.pdf. Dues need to be paid to receive the printed version of the Bulletin and to vote at the annual business meeting, which will be next held in January in Savannah, Georgia in conjunction with the 2018 Eastern APA meeting. We shall notify you when the website is set up to receive payments.

Richard M Rubin
President, George Santayana Society

Dear Friends of the George Santayana Society,

The George Santayana Society and the Santayana Edition have always been and will remain closely intertwined. The Edition is the publisher of Overheard in Seville, it provides staff for preparing the Bulletin for publication, and the Director of the Santayana Edition serves as the Managing Editor of Overheard in Seville. The Society strongly supports the work of the Edition.

The Santayana Edition is part of the Institute for American Thought at Indiana University in Indianapolis. It began publishing critical editions of Santayana’s work under Herman Saatkamp’s direction in1977. Dr Saatkamp brought it to Indianapolis in 1998 from Texas A&M. It is funded by the University and by matching grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Martin Coleman is the Santayana Edition’s current director. He sends us the following report:

The Santayana Edition website plans to publish electronically the letters of George Santayana’s father, Agustín, to his son. The Edition also will receive from Columbia University Libraries Archival Collection copies of over 300 of pages of recently discovered documents including letters from Santayana to his friend Baron Albert von Westenholz, whom Santayana described as one of “best-educated persons I have known” (PP, 442). The letters to Westenholz were written between 1903 and 1937. An inventory of the documents may be viewed here: http://go.iu.edu/1tpY The Edition has permission to publish the Westenholz letters on the Edition website.

Santayana’s five-volume work The Life of Reason, a seminal text in American philosophical naturalism was originally published in 1905–06. In 2016, the Santayana Edition completed work on the critical edition of The Life of Reason. All five books are now available as Volume VII of The Works of George Santayana from The MIT Press. You may see the catalog listings here: http://go.iu.edu/1tq0.

Richard M Rubin
President, George Santayana Society