Character and Opinion in the United States

by George Santayana

The major part of this book is composed of lectures originally addressed to British audiences. I have added a good deal, but I make no apology, now that the whole may fall under American eyes, for preserving the tone and attitude of a detached observer. Not at all on the ground that “to see ourselves as others see us” would be to see ourselves truly; on the contrary, I agree with Spinoza where he says that other people’s idea of a man is apt to be a better expression of their nature than of his. I accept this principle in the present instance, and am willing it should be applied to the judgements contained in this book, in which the reader may see chiefly expressions of my own feelings and hints of my own opinions.

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