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Title: Ultimate Religions
Subtitle: Santayana, Spinoza and St. Teresa of Avila
Author(s): KUNTZ, Paul G.
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 10    Date: 2000   
Pages: 242-254
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.10.0.505270

Abstract :
'Ultimate religions' is based on George Santayana's 'Ultimate Religion', an oration given in The Hague on the celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Spinoza! In another holy place, Avila, the occasion celebrating Santayana's achievements, in 1992, there was occasion to compare and contrast the piety and the spirituality of Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross to the naturalistic way of salvation with which Santayana himself is usually identified. What has not been previously been noted is that while he praises the respect for power (or matter) and harmony with truth, he also finds this way deficient in love of God and neighbor. this way is in some way superior to Spinonza's. The rationalist ignores the good of the heart, and the dark night of the soul, to which Catholic saints bear witness. The similarities between what we read in Santayana's three stages of salvation places him also in the tradition expounded in The Ascent of Carmel. It might be objected that neither a contemplative saint nor a contemplative philosopher makes a place for the vita activa, and praises the better way of Mary, the vita contemplativa. But this isnot so in Teresa or Santayana. Both defend the possibility and actuality of the vita mixta. Are there in Santayana only two ways, naturalistic and Catholic? There are at leasttwo other ways that are also called 'ultimate'. These are the Buddhist contemplation of essences, and the Biblical way of Jews and Protestants, devotion to the ideal of the convenant and the kingdom of God.

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