A Quote by Aldous Leonard Huxley on symbols and mythology

Man is an amphibian who lives simultaneously in two worlds -- the given and the home-made, the world of matter, life and consciousness and the world of symbols. In our thinking we make use of a great variety of symbols-systems -- linguistic, mathematical, pictorial, musical, ritualistic. Without such symbol-systems we should have no art, no science, no law, no philosophy, not so much as the rudiments of civilization: in other words, we should be animals... But symbols -- as the history of our own and every other age makes so abundantly clear -- can also be fatal... Consider, for example, the domain of science on the one hand, and the domain of politics and religion on the other. Thinking in terms of, and acting in response to, one set of symbols [science], we have come, in some small measure, to understand and control the elementary forces of nature. Thinking in terms of, and acting in response to another set of symbols [politics and religion], we use these forces as instruments of mass murder and collective suicide. In the first case [science] the explanatory symbols were well chosen, carefully analyzed and progressively adapted to the emergent facts of physical existence. In the second case [politics and religion] symbols originally ill-chosen were never subjugated to thorough-going analysis and never re-formulated so as to harmonize with the emergent facts of human existence. Worse still, these misleading symbols [politics and religion] were everywhere treated with a wholly unwarranted respect, as though, in some mysterious way, they were more real than the realities [if any] to which they [supposedly] referred.

Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)

Source: 'The First and Last Freedom' by Jiddu Krishnamurti

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