As the title says, what is the source of the quote:

Dream in a pragmatic way.

Is it from Aldous Huxley? If it is, I would like to know the source: if it is a book or poem or whatever.

  • 3
    What have you found already? (presumably you googled first)
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 19:02
  • I did and I haven't found any reference to a source, just Aldous Huxley.
    – Samuel
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 20:27
  • Probably Aldous Huxley, then Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 8:41

1 Answer 1


The quote comes from a 1962 video interview with Aldous Huxley. In accessing the three-part audio file on Huxley.net, the excerpt comes at about 2 minutes 30 seconds into the second clip, or 11 minutes into the entire interview. In response to Huxley talking about power and politics in the present moment, the interviewer shares Huxley's concerns and poses the question, "What does one do?" Huxley answers:

Well, now, this is the real problem, because nothing is easier than to formulate high ideals but few things are more difficult than to discover the means whereby those ideals can be implemented and the categorical imperatives which spring from them can be obeyed. This is the real problem, I mean, one has to dream, but one has to dream in a pragmatic way, to consider how we can obey the injunction to love our neighbors and behave with good will. I think one of the basic problems is somehow to find means whereby the extraordinarily violent drives of our instincts and our emotions can be given expression without doing harm either to ourselves or to our neighbors, and this is something I think that many earlier civilizations and many so-called primitive peoples have thought about. I mean, the Greeks thought about it very carefully ... [transcription my own]

The answer goes on, but that bit should make clear that "dream in a pragmatic way" is a quote fragment that has been stripped of much of its original context. The quote fragment is pithy, and sounds like it could be career advice or a phrase used to chastise a student; Huxley uses it in a complex and thoughtful answer about how to balance societal ideals with means and implementation in a society where people are often driven by strong emotions and instincts.

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