Doubt and Certainty

Sunday, November 29, 2020 – Doubt and Certainty

How little can we foresee the consequences either of wise or unwise action, of virtue or of malice. Without this measureless and perpetual uncertainty, the drama of human life would be destroyed. ~ Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm

It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty, rather than of knowledge. ~ Samuel Johnson

Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty. ~ Mark Twain

Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality. ~ Theodor W. Adorno

Fanaticism is overcompensation for doubt. ~ Robertson Davies

A weak man has doubts before a decision; a strong man has them afterwards. ~ Karl Kraus

Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them. ~ Peter Ustinov

When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others. ~ Bertrand Russell

Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age. ~ Ernest Hemingway

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. ~ Albert Einstein

As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning, and meaningful statements lose precision. ~ Lotfi Zadeh

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one. ~ Voltaire

Who knows whether the gods will add tomorrow to the present hour? [Quis scit, an adjiciant hodiernae crastina summae Tempora di superi?] ~ Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Carmina (IV, 7, 17)

All human things hang on a slender thread, the strongest fall with a sudden crash. [Omnia sunt hominum tenui pendentia filo: Et subito casu, quae valuere, ruunt.] ~ Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), Epistoloe Ex Ponto (IV, 3, 35)

This I ever held worse that all certitude / To know not what the worst ahead might be. ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne, Marino Faliero (Act V)

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next. ~ Ursula K. LeGuin

Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing, through the overtaking and possessing of a wish discovers the folly of the chase. ~ William Congreve

Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty. ~ Jacob Bronowski

An image is a stop the mind makes between uncertainties. ~ Djuna Barnes

We demand guaranteed rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty. ~ Douglas Adams

There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing. ~ Robert Burns

Human life is proverbially uncertain; few things are more certain than the solvency of a life-insurance company. ~ Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions. ~ Thomas S. Szasz

That must be wonderful; I have no idea of what it means. ~ Albert Camus

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. ~ James H. Boren

A woman’s guess is much more accurate than a man’s certainty. ~ Rudyard Kipling

Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance. ~ Bertrand Russell

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. ~ Vaclav Havel

If we must not act save on a certainty, we ought not to act on religion, for it is not certain. But how many things we do on an uncertainty, sea voyages, battles! ~ Blaise Pascal

If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life. ~ Henry David Thoreau

The areas of consensus shift unbelievably fast; the bubbles of certainty are constantly exploding. ~ Rem Koolhaas

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. ~ Bertrand Russell

The minute one utters a certainty the opposite comes to mind. ~ May Sarton

The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle. ~ Hannah Arendt

To counter the avoidance of intellectual challenge and responsibility, we must reduce the domination of certainty in education. ~ William Glasser

Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul when hot for certainties in this our life! ~ George Meredith

Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Positiveness is an absurd foible. If you are in the right, it lessens your triumph; if in the wrong, it adds shame to your defeat. ~ Laurence Sterne

And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human. ~ William Gibson

The unique and supreme voluptuousness of love lies in the certainty of committing evil. And men and women know from birth that in evil is found all sensual delight. ~ Charles Baudelaire

Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled; not for its own sake, but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaning it. ~ Tom Stoppard

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world. ~ Michael Crichton

I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure. ~ Mae West

I’m the type who’d be happy not going anywhere as long as I was sure I knew exactly what was happening at the places I wasn’t going to. I’m the type who’d like to sit home and watch every party that I’m invited to on a monitor in my bedroom. ~ Andy Warhol

I hate cameras. They are so much more sure than I am about everything. ~ John Steinbeck

This land is your land and this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway. ~ Bob Dylan

You may be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination. ~ Charles de Gaulle

Whatever else an American believes or disbelieves about himself, he is absolutely sure he has a sense of humor. ~ E. B. White

The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant, I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite. ~ Bertrand Russell

There is no certainty; there is only adventure. ~ Roberto Assagioli

When we are not sure, we are alive. ~ Graham Greene

The only certain freedom’s in departure. ~ Robert Frost

There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go. ~ Tennessee Williams