“Should one follow one’s feelings?” That one should put one’s life in danger, yielding to a generous feeling and under the impulse of a moment, that is of little value and does not even characterize one. Everyone is equally capable of that – and in this resolution, a criminal, a bandit, and a Corsican certainly excel decent people.
A higher stage is: to overcome even this pressure within us and to perform a heroic act not on impulse – but coldly, raisonnable, without being overwhelmed by stormy feelings of pleasure – the same applies to compassion: it must first be habitually sifted by reason; otherwise it is just as dangerous as any other affect.
Blind indulgence of an affect, totally regardless of whether it be a generous and compassionate or a hostile affect, is the cause of the greatest evils.
Greatness of character does not consist in not possessing these affects – on the contrary, one possesses them to the highest degree – but in having them under control. And even that without any pleasure in this restraint, but merely because-