The Original Phrase

Posted by TheFallen on March 11, 2003

In Reply to: Expanded phrase?, ORIGINAL PHRASE? posted by Larry on March 10, 2003

: I am trying to answer a followup and hope this is how to do it. The most commonly quoted "original" goes something like this:

: "Those who don't learn from the lessons of history are bound to repeat them".

: See link below to another discussion on this site.

: : A few years ago, I read that the correct phrase is, "Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them."

: : This version makes more sense than the commonly quoted phrase, which implies that nothing from the past is worth repeating. That is patently false and indefensible and is why I would never use the common phrase to make a point.

: : Question: was Santayana misquoted? Or merely wrong?

According to several sources, including the Columbia World Of Quotations, the original quotation from George Santayana is in fact:-

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I think that confusion arises because so many later writers have amended and/or altered the original.