Portrait of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury on Truth as the Most Powerful Thing in the World

Found in: Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, vol. 1

The quotation that follows comes from a letter written by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury to Lord Sommers, a leading Whig jurist and statesman. The quotation appears at the beginning of the letter to Lord Sommers which is generally a defense of enthusiasm:

No theme

But as to this Doubt, your Lordship wou’d have soon resolv’d your-self: and it cou’d only serve to bring a-cross you a Reflection you have often made, on many occasions besides; That Truth is the most powerful thing in the World, since even Fiction it-self must be govern’d by it, and can only please by its resemblance. The Appearance of Reality is necessary to make any Passion agreeably represented: and to be able to move others, we must first be mov’d ourselves, or at least seem to be so, upon some probable Grounds. (FROM: SECTION I) - Earl of Shaftesbury