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George Santayana (born Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás in Madrid, December 16, 1863; died September 26, 1952, in Rome) was a Spanish American philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States, wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters. Santayana is perhaps best known today for his remark that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and the line "only the dead have seen the end of war"—the latter often falsely attributed to Plato. The philosophical system of Santayana is broadly considered Pragmatist due to having similar concerns as his fellow Harvard University associates William James and Josiah Royce, but he did not accept this label for his writing and eschewed any association with a philosophical school; he declared that he stood in philosophy "exactly where in daily life."
Born Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás on December 16, 1863 in Madrid, he spent his early childhood in Ávila. His mother Josefina Borrás was the daughter of a Spanish official in the Philippines and Jorge was the only child of his mother's second marriage. She had previously been the widow of George Sturgis, a Boston merchant with whom she had five children, two of whom died in infancy. She lived in Boston following her husband's death in 1857, but in 1861 went with her three surviving children to live in Madrid. There she encountered Agustín Ruiz de Santayana, an old friend from her years in the Philippines, and married him in 1862. Ruiz de Santayana was a colonial civil servant, painter, and minor intellectual.
The family lived in Madrid and Ávila until 1869, when Santayana's mother returned to Boston with her three Sturgis children, leaving Jorge with his father in Spain. Jorge and his father followed her in 1872, but his father, finding neither Boston nor his wife's attitude to his liking, soon returned alone to Ávila, where he remained for the rest of his life. Jorge did not see him again until summer vacations while he was a student at Harvard University. Sometime during this period, Jorge's first name became George, the English equivalent.