Quotations about   doubt

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When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
(Attributed)

Frequently attributed to Nietzsche, starting in the late 1950s, but never cited and not found in any of his writings. More discussion here.
Added on 10-Apr-19 | Last updated 10-Apr-19
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Men become civilized not in proportion to their willingness to believe but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“What I Believe,” sec. 4, Forum and Century (Sep 1930)
    (Source)
Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 17-Apr-17
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The seed had sprouted into that most wonderful and horrible of fruits: doubt, which, like the strawberry, has a succulent taste, but has also a tendency to spread and spread, until it dominates whatever garden it has taken root in.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Added on 20-Jan-17 | Last updated 20-Jan-17
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I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go.

gaiman-hell-is-something-you-carry-around-wist_info-quote

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Dec-16 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.

Shakespeare - never doubt I love - wist_info quote

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 2, sc. 2 (1603)
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Added on 13-Jun-16 | Last updated 13-Jun-16
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The world is made up for the most part of morons and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in their own opinions, never doubting anything.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) American lawyer
Personal Liberty (1928)
Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 25-Apr-16
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If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.

Lewis - confidence - wist_info quote

Carl Lewis (b. 1961) American Olympic athlete
(Attributed)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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If I want to stop a research program I can always do it by getting a few experts to sit in on the subject, because they know right away that it was a fool thing to try in the first place.

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) American inventor, engineer, researcher, businessman
(Attributed)
Added on 25-Sep-15 | Last updated 25-Sep-15
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The trouble about God is that he is like a person who never acknowledges one’s letters and so, in time, one comes to the conclusion either that he does not exist or that you have got the address wrong. I admitted that it was of great moment: but what was the use of going on dispatching fervent messages — say to Edinburgh — if they all came back through the dead letter office: nay more, if you couldn’t even find Edinburgh on the map.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter to Warren Lewis (1 Jul 1921)
Added on 2-Sep-15 | Last updated 2-Sep-15
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The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech (Undelivered) for Jefferson Day (13 Apr 1945)
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Added on 6-May-15 | Last updated 6-May-15
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The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Monstrous Regiment (2003)
Added on 6-May-15 | Last updated 6-May-15
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If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting, too ….

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“If–” st. 1 (1910)
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Added on 16-Mar-15 | Last updated 3-Jul-17
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The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Interview with Antonio Spadaro, America Magazine (30 Sep 2013)
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Added on 3-Mar-15 | Last updated 3-Mar-15
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If you can’t stop the bad thoughts from coming to visit, at least you can make fun of them while they’re hanging around.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Turn Coat (2009)
Added on 14-Oct-14 | Last updated 14-Oct-14
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Skepticism is the beginning of faith.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 17 (1891)

See also Emerson, Hesse, Tennyson.
Added on 8-Aug-14 | Last updated 29-Aug-14
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I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous — if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Ghosts” (1877)
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Added on 14-Aug-09 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized a man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.”

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Minority Report : H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks (1956)
Added on 28-Oct-08 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-May-16
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In my opinion, any faith that cannot withstand a little shaking isn’t constructed too well to begin with. Jesus built his church on a rock, not on swampland.

John Russell (contemp.) ("jr")
Belief-L
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-19
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Doubt is not an agreeable condition, but certainty is an absurd one.

[Le doute n’est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde.]

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Letter to Frederick II of Prussia (6 Apr 1767)

Alt trans.
  • "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
  • "Doubt is not a very agreeable state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-May-16
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We know accurately only when we know little, with knowledge doubt increases.

[Eigentlich weiss man nur wenn man wenig weiss; mit dem Wissen wachst des Zweifel.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Spruche in Prosa [Proverbs in Prose] (1819)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-May-14
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The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Russell - stupid cocksure - wist_info

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933)

Often paraphrased, "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure, and the intelligent are full of doubt."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Nov-15
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If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin in doubts, he shall end in certainties.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
De Augmentis Scientiarum [Advancement of Learning], Book 1, ch. 5, sec. 8 (1605)

Alt trans. (Willey Book ed., (1944)): "If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient with them, we shall end in certainties."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jul-14
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