The author of these words was George Santayana, whose birth name (born in Madrid, Spain, 1863) was Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás. He lived his life as a philosopher, poet, and novelist. He was the author of 61 distinct works.
Santayana was also the guy that coined the phrase “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana was a naturalist before it became popular. He studied philosophy at Harvard University in Boston, attending classes by William James and Josiah Royce, and later came back to Harvard to teach philosophy.
Amongst his students were T. S. Eliot and Robert Frost.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:
At Harvard he began to write. The Sense of Beauty (1896) was an important contribution to aesthetics. The essay, which is concerned with the nature and elements of aesthetic feelings, holds that to judge that anything is beautiful is “virtually to establish an ideal” and that to understand why something is thought to be beautiful enables one to distinguish transitory ideals from those that, springing from more fundamental feelings, are “comparatively permanent and universal.”
There are no accounts of Santayana being a hiker, but as a naturalist, we believe he must have spent quite a lot of time in the woods!
His one novel – “The Last Puritan,” written in 1936 (the same year he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine) – was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was a Book-of-the-Month club selection.