We may venture to say that among the thinkers of all nations Aristotle was the first to reach the conception of what may fitly be called God [a being spiritual, personal, and perfect, immutable without being abstract, and omnipotent without effort and with out degradation]. . . . The analytic study of Nature (a study which at the same time must be imaginative and sympathetic) could guide us to the conception of her inner needs and tendencies and of what their proper fulfilment would be. We could then see that this fulfilment would lie in intelligence and thought. Growth is for the sake of the fruition of life, and the fruition of life consists in the pursuit and attainment of objects. The moral virtues belong to the pursuit, the intellectual to the attainment. Knowledge is the end of all endeavour, the justification and fulfilment of all growth. Intelligence is the clarification of love.
The environing world can justify itself to the mind only by the free life which it fosters there.
Mind is the body's entelechy, a value which accrues to the body when it has reached a certain perfection, of which it would be a pity, so to speak, that it should remain unconscious; so that while the body feeds the mind the mind perfects the body, lifting it and all its natural relations and impulses into the moral world, into the sphere of interests and ideas.
Spirit is useless, being the end of things: but it is not vain, since it alone rescues all else from vanity.
What happens to exist can take very good care of itself, and is quite indifferent to what people think of it; and as for us, if we possess such cursory knowledge of the nearer parts of existence as is sufficient for our safety, there is no reason why we should attend to it too minutely: there's metal more attractive in discourse and in fiction. Mind, as Hobbes said, is fancy, and it is the things of fancy that greet us first and reward us best. They are far from being more absurd than the facts.
It is only what exists materially that exists without excuse, whereas what the mind creates has some vital justification, and may serve to justify the rest.
The whole of natural life, then, is an aspiration after the realization and vision of Ideas, and all action is for the sake of contemplation.
Spirituality, then, lies in regarding existence merely as a vehicle for contemplation, and contemplation merely as a vehicle for joy.
The Ideas were our true friends, our natural companions, and all our safe knowledge was of them; things were only vehicles by which Ideas were conveyed to us, as the copies of a book are vehicles for its sense.
The contemplation of so much of essence as is relevant to a particular life is what Aristotle called the entelechy or perfect fruition of that life.
[C]ontact with objects, when at last it becomes safe and pleasant, serves only to fill the mind with images and insights, that is to say, with graphic signs flowering of themselves in the mind.
The pure, legitimate, divine offspring of being is seeing, and the ripe fruit of seeing is comprehending. That which biologically is derivative, the Son, becomes morally the crown and fulfilment of the whole cycle: for without the Word that utters and reveals the heart the whole dynamism of the heart would remain barbarous and blind.
[T]he motive which prompted theologians to attribute absolute immutability to God and to life in heaven was not love of life but respect for the ideal. They could not, however, express this respect (which they deeply felt, as spirit always must) without employing laudatory rhetorical terms which attribute to it an impossible life and existence.
—Idea of Christ at 230 (The Animal Psyche and the Supernatural Soul)
Facts thus culminate for the spirit in ideal revelations, in attainments or perfections of form: that is the only ultimate function that passing existence can have.
—Idea of Christ at 231 (The Animal Psyche and the Supernatural Soul)
[The supernatural] arises in the effort to do justice at once to nature and to the ideal, and to vindicate the superiority, or rather the exclusive ultimate value, of the latter.
—Idea of Christ at 233 (The Animal Psyche and the Supernatural Soul)
Yet spirit may silently pass on in what might seem the opposite direction when it abandons or despises all this prudential and blind knowledgeblind because it has nothing distinct to offer in the place of the sensuous or poetic images that it transcendsand reverts, now with an enthusiastic worship, to the cult of ideas. For what profit is there in discovering the order of nature or the history of mankind except that we may thereby protect and sweeten the transit of the soul through the world, and chose eternal objects of study and love?
The complete art of living would therefore be economic in its actions for the sake of being wholly liberal in its enjoyments.
—Dominations at 152 (Economic and Liberal Interests in Religion)
[L]iving beings possess, or may develop, feeling and imagination; in which lies the essence of mind, and the ultimate good of existence.
Number of quotations (including supressed): 22
Santayana writes that "the body is an instrument, the mind its function . . . and reward of its operation." Common Sense '05 at 206 (Introduction).
This same note is struck memorably by Santayana in his essay, The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy, which contains the following language in its last paragraph:
[T]he peculiarity of man is that his machinery for reaction on external things has involved an imaginative transcript of these things, which is preserved and suspended in his fancy; and the interest and beauty of this inward landscape, rather than any fortunes that may await his body in the outer world, constitute his proper happiness. By their mind, its scope, quality, and temper, we estimate men, for by the mind only do we exist as men, and are more than so many storage-batteries for material energy. Let us therefore be frankly human. Let us be content to live in the mind.
Winds '13 at 215.
Early in the essay, The Moral Background, Santayana writes:
Although Americans, and many other people, usually say that thought is for the sake of action, it has evidently been in these high moments, when action becomes incandescent in thought, that they have been most truly alive, intensively most active, and although doing nothing, have found at last that their existence was worth while. Reflection is itself a turn, and the top turn, given to life. . . . [W]hen reflection in man becomes dominant, it may become passionate; it may create religion and philosophy . . . .
Character & Opinion '20 at 3-4.
The quotations here gathered elaborate on this theme.