Ideas Quotes: The Power of Ideas

While not everyone will agree, we take it as a given that ideas matter, that they shape the world in which we live for good or for ill. If we didn’t believe in the power of ideas, we wouldn’t have this website. 

Ideas are powerful precisely because they are ideas — they live far beyond the man who first came up with them. Killing them is far more difficult than killing a person. Inspiring people to action can remake the world with greater power than just about anything. History is filled with examples where ideas are even more powerful than armies in motion. 

We live in a time when ideas both develop and transmit faster than ever thanks to changes in technology. This has also democratized the marketplace of ideas. Just about anyone can now access the information needed to innovate, whether that be in the tech sector or on the battlefield of ideas. 

What’s more, this democratized access to ideas makes it easier than ever for us to expand our own mind and to achieve a better and more nuanced understanding of ideas. What once required advanced graduate study can now easily be done at home in our spare time. 

This means that anyone can now put their informed and fully developed ideas out into the world, for better or for worse. 

The following quotes illustrate just how powerful and important ideas are in our world.

Quotes About the Power of Ideas

“You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.”

Pablo Picasso

“The most powerful thing in the world is an idea whose time has come.”

Victor Hugo

“Human history is, in essence, a history of ideas.”

H.G. Wells

“Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need is just one more in a series of good ideas. It’s like dialing the numbers into the lock. You’ve got 5 or 6 numbers dialed into the lock, and the lock still won’t come up. But you don’t need 5 or 6 more numbers. Maybe you just need one more.”

Jim Rohn

“It is possible to argue that the really influential book is not that which converts ten millions of casual readers but rather that which converts the very few who at any given moment succeed in seizing power.  Marx and Sorel have been influential in the modern world.  Not so much because they were best sellers.  But because among their few readers were two men called respectively Lenin and Mussolini.”

Aldous Huxley, speaking on how ideas influence people

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.”

John F. Kennedy

“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.”

Nolan Bushnell

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”

Marie Curie

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Mark Twain

“A modern textile mill employs only a man and a dog – the man to feed the dog, and the dog to keep the man away from the machines.”

Joke about artificial intelligence

Quotes About Innovation and the Future

“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

Noam Chomsky

“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”

Eric Hoffer

“The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” 

William Gibson

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

Winston Churchill

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.”

“There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination
they produce more hues than can ever been seen.”

“There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.”

Sun Tzu

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Martin Luther

“It sounds like a fairy-tale, but not only that; this story of what man by his science and practical inventions has achieved on this earth, where he first appeared as a weakly member of the animal kingdom, and on which each individual of his species must ever again appear as a helpless infant… is a direct fulfilment of all, or of most, of the dearest wishes in his fairy-tales. All these possessions he has acquired through culture. Long ago he formed an ideal conception of omnipotence and omniscience which he embodied in his gods. Whatever seemed unattainable to his desires – or forbidden to him – he attributed to these gods. One may say, therefore, that these gods were the ideals of his culture. Now he has himself approached very near to realizing this ideal, he has nearly become a god himself. But only, it is true, in the way that ideals are usually realized in the general experience of humanity. Not completely; in some respects not at all, in others only by halves. Man has become a god by means of artificial limbs, so to speak, quite magnificent when equipped with all his accessory organs; but they do not grow on him and they still give him trouble at times… Future ages will produce further great advances in this realm of culture, probably inconceivable now, and will increase man’s likeness to a god still more.”

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

“Innovation is an evolutionary process, so it’s not necessary to be radical all the time.”

Marc Jacobs

“I think people in Europe are generally pessimistic about the future. They have low expectations, they’re not working hard to change things. When you’re a slacker with a pessimistic view of the future, you’re likely to meet those expectations.” 

Peter Thiel

“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

Nikola Tesla

“The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar… Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.”

Aldous Huxley

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

Malcolm X

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Alan Kay