Philosophy ETDs


Anton Lissy

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In Scepticism and Animal Faith, the introductory volume of George Santayana's Realms of Being, Santayana claimed that his system of philosophy would place the common sense of ordinary life into a "more accurate and circumspect form" by distinguishing realms or categories of being which he personally found "conspicuously different and worth distinguishing." He also declared that the "chief issue" of philosophy was to investigate "the relation of man and of his spirit to the universe." Paul Schilpp, in an article on the final volume of the Realms of Being, concluded that Santayana was "groping" in print. Schilpp added, however, that Santayana's treatment of The Realm of Spirit nonetheless conveyed the impression to him that Santayana was "groping after something highly important and significant." But was Santayana only "groping" in print? Had he written over a thousand pages on aspects of a system which he had not yet discovered? Had he designed his literary style to overwhelm a reader with its surface beauty while it cloaked a philosophical vacuity? Had he been unable to state or convey his own views on what he himself had designated as the "chief issue" of philosophy? The primary aim of this thesis is to clear Santayana of the charge of "groping" in print by providing evidence which indicates that the Realms of Being presents a coherent and consistent system of thought which gives an adequate account of man's position in the world. Although I will try to show that the "doctrine" of his system is far from being either novel or extraordinary, I will contend that the significance of Santayana's contribution to philosophy lies in his method of "indoctrination" rather than in its commonplace tenets. For Santayana's prose is designed to display a philosophical attitude rather than merely state a philosophical doctrine. To support my claims, I will take the reader on a guided tour of the Realms of Being. I will describe the sceptical foundation of Santayana's system, the realm of essence, and the realms of matter and spirit which provide several perspectives from which the "chief issue" can be examined. Accounts of evolution, epiphenomenalism, behaviorism, and introspection will contribute to the case against Schilpp and Santayana will be cleared when his notion of spirit or consciousness as liberated is related to these other crucial aspects of his philosophy.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Paul F. Schmidt

Second Committee Member

Hubert G. Alexander

Third Committee Member

Melbourne G. Evans



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