The Power of Ideas – an excerpt

The thing that gives people courage is ideas. And it is not only courage that comes from ideas; it is determination; it is the power to act, the power to go on acting coherently. For though it is true that most ideas are the rationalizations of feelings, that does not mean that feelings are more important in the world of action than ideas. Feeling provides the original supply of energy, but this supply of energy soon fails if the feelings are not rationalized. For the rationalization justifies the feelings and serves at the same time both as a substitute for feelings and as a stimulant for them when they are dormant. You cannot go on feeling violently all the time-the human organism does not allow of it. But an idea persists; once you have persuaded yourself of its truth, an idea justifies the continuance in cold blood of actions which emotion could only have dictated in the heat of the moment. Indeed it does more than justify actions and feelings; it imposes them. If you accept an idea as true, then it becomes your duty to act on it even in cold blood as a matter not of momentary feeling, but of enduring principle. It is even your duty to revive the emotion which was originally at the root of the idea—or rather the new and nobler emotion which, thanks to the idea, has taken the place of the root feeling from which the idea started.

Aldous Huxley.

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