Quotations about:
    uncertainty


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We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion; cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for what’s new.

Meg Wheatley
Margaret J. "Meg" Wheatley (b. 1944) American writer, teacher, speaker, management consultant
Turning to One Another, “Willing to Be Disturbed” (2002)
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Added on 27-Jan-23 | Last updated 27-Jan-23
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I am content to be one of the multitude of Christians who do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels. Both as a scientist and as a religious person, I am accustomed to living with uncertainty. Science is exciting because it is full of unsolved mysteries, and religion is exciting for the same reason.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
“Progress in Religion,” Templeton Prize acceptance speech, Washington National Cathedral (9 May 2000)
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Added on 19-Dec-22 | Last updated 19-Dec-22
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He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, # 57 “The Character of Sophron” (19 May 1759)
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One of Sophron's (Wisdom's) maxims.
 
Added on 9-Nov-22 | Last updated 9-Nov-22
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The art of war deals with living and with moral forces. Consequently, it cannot attain the absolute, or certainty; it must always leave a margin for uncertainty, in the greatest things as well as in the smallest. With uncertainty in one scale, courage and self-confidence should be thrown into the other to correct the balance. The greater they are, the greater the margin that can be left for accidents.

[Die Kriegskunst hat es mit lebendigen und mit moralischen Kräften zu thun; daraus folgt, dass sie nirgends das Absolute und Gewisse erreichen kann; es bleibt also überall dem Ungefähr ein Spielraum, und zwar eben so gross bei dem Grössten, wie bei dem Keinsten. Wie dieses Ungefähr auf dereinen Seite steht, muss Muth und Selbstvertrauen auf die andere treten und die Lücke ausfüllen. So gross, wie diese sind, so gross darf der Spielraum für jenes werden.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 1 “What Is War? [Was ist der Krieg?],” § 22 (1.1.22) (1832) [tr. Howard & Paret (1984)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

The art of war has to deal with living and with moral forces; the consequence of which is that it can never attain the absolute and positive. There is therefore everywhere a margin for the accidental; and just as much inthe greatest things as in the smallest. As there is room for this accidental on the one hand, so on the other there must be courage and self-reliance in proportion to the room left. If these qualities are forthcoming in a high degree, the margin left may likewise be great.
[tr. Graham (1874)]

The art of war has to do with living and with moral forces; from this it follows that it can nowhere attain the absolute and certain; there remains always a margin for the accidental just as much with the greatest things as with the smallest. As on the one side stands this accidental element, so on the other courage and self-confidence must step forward and fill up the gap. The greater the courage and self-confidence, the larger the margin that may be left for the accidental.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

 
Added on 29-Sep-22 | Last updated 24-Jan-23
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Look, I tried the cat experiment. On the third trial, the cat was dead. On each of the subsequent 413 trials, it remained dead. Am I doing something wrong?

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
Usenet post, “SCHRODINGER’S CAT??” sci.physics (11 Mar 1992)
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Added on 9-Sep-22 | Last updated 9-Sep-22
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If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.

[So sind ihm zwei Eigenschaften unentbehrlich: einmal ein Verstand, der auch in dieser gesteigerten Dunkelheit nicht ohne einige Spuren des inneren Lichts ist, die ihn zur Wahrheit führen, und dann Mut, diesem schwachen Lichte zu folgen.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 3 “On Military Genius [Der Kriegerische Genius]” (1.3) (1832) [tr. Howard & Paret (1984)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

Now, if it is to get safely through this perpetual conflict with the unexpected, two qualities are indispensable: in the first place an understanding which, even in the midst of this intense obscurity, is not without some traces of inner light, which lead to the truth, and then the courage to follow this faint light.
[tr. Graham (1874)]

Now if it is to get safely through this continual conflict with the unexpected, two qualities are indispensable: in the first place, an intellect which even in the midst of this intensified obscurity is not without some traces of inner light which lead to the truth, and next, courage to follow this faint light.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

 
Added on 16-Aug-22 | Last updated 24-Jan-23
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Democracy is based on a profound insight into human nature, the realization that all men are sinful, all are imperfect, all are prejudiced, and none knows the whole truth. That is why we need liberty and why we have an obligation to hear all men. Liberty gives us a chance to learn from other people, to become aware of our own limitations, and to correct our bias. Even when we disagree with other people we like to think that they speak from good motives, and while we realize that all men are limited, we do not let ourselves imagine that any man is bad. Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure that they are right.

E E Schattschneider
E. E. Schattschneider (1892-1971) American political scientist [Elmer Eric Schattschneider]
Two Hundred Million Americans in Search of a Government (1969)
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Added on 9-Aug-22 | Last updated 9-Aug-22
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Oh, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day;
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 85ff [Proteus] (c. 1590)
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Added on 6-Jul-22 | Last updated 8-Jul-22
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“The choice is yours: to go or wait.”

“And it is also said,” answered Frodo: “Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.”

“Is it indeed?” laughed Gildor. “Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 3 “Three Is Company” (1954)
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Added on 5-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on.

At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Learning to Walk in the Dark, Introduction (2014)
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Added on 12-Nov-21 | Last updated 12-Nov-21
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To know all about anything is to know how to deal with it under all circumstances. We feel much happier and more secure when we think we know precisely what to do, no matter what happens, than when we have lost our way and do not know where to turn. And if we have supposed ourselves to know all about anything, and to be capable of doing what is fit in regard to it, we naturally do not like to find that we are really ignorant and powerless, that we have to begin again at the beginning, and try to learn what the thing is and how it is to be dealt with — if indeed anything can be learnt about it. It is the sense of power attached to a sense of knowledge that makes men desirous of believing, and afraid of doubting.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Ethics of Belief,” Part 1 “The Duty of Inquiry,” Lecture, London (11 Apr 1876)
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Added on 8-Nov-21 | Last updated 8-Nov-21
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Knowledge breeds doubt, not certainty, and the more we know the more uncertain we become.

Taylor - Knowledge breeds doubt, not certainty - wist.info quote

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“What Else Indeed?” New York Review of Books (5 Aug 1965)
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Added on 20-Sep-21 | Last updated 20-Sep-21
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You’ll ‘start living tomorrow’? Start living today already, Postumus, you’re running out of time. Anyone with sense started living yesterday.

[Cras vives? hodie iam vivere, Postume, serum est:
Ille sapit, quisquis, Postume, vixit heri.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 58 (5.58) [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
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(Source (Latin)). See a related sentiment by Martial here. Alternate translations:

Today to live, ev'n that's too late I say.
The wiseman, Posthumus, liv'd Yesterday.
[tr. Oldmixon (1728)]

You will live, you say, tomorrow; it is late, Posthumus, to live today; he is wise who lived yesterday.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 46, noted as Martial Book 5, ep. 59]

You will live tomorrow: even today it is too late to begin to live. He is the wise man, Postumus, who lived yesterday.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

To live today, Postumus, is already too late. He is wise, whoever he be, Postumus, who "lived" yesterday.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

"Tomorrow": -- nay, do not this moment delay.
The wise man is he who has lived yesterday.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

"Tomorrow"? -- Postumus, today's too late.
The wise man, Postumus, lived yesterday.
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

Forget tomorrow's teasing long delay.
To make life pleasant, dwell on yesterday.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Tomorrow will I live, the fool does say;
Today itself's too late; the wise lived yesterday.
[tr. Cowley, in Hay, "Appendix," ep. 59]

Thou'lt live tomorrow? -- this day's life's too late:
He's wise that lived before the present date.
[tr. Fletcher]

Believe me, wise men don’t say “I shall live to do that,”
Tomorrow’s life is too late; live today.

 
Added on 13-Aug-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Dogma thinks it knows. Belief knows it does not. Dogma is credulous. Belief is sceptical, but forever open-minded.

Graham Dunstan Martin
Graham Dunstan Martin (1932-2021) British author, translator, philologist
Shadows in the Cave (1990)
 
Added on 29-Jul-21 | Last updated 29-Jul-21
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At odd and unpredictable times, we cling in fright to the past.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Foundation’s Edge, Part 1, ch. 1 (1982)
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Added on 22-Jul-21 | Last updated 22-Jul-21
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The worst part of fear is not knowing what to do. And often you have only to ask What would I do if I were not afraid? to know what to do, and do it, and not be afraid.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #121 (2001)
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Added on 22-Jun-21 | Last updated 22-Jun-21
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The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Notes on Nationalism” (May 1945)
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Added on 14-Jun-21 | Last updated 14-Jun-21
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To be modern is to exhibit a whole range of uncertainties and pathologies, from Locke’s sense of “uneasiness,” Rousseau’s “amour-propre,” Hegel’s “unhappy consciousness,” and Kierkegaard’s “anxiety,” to Tocqueville’s “inquiétude,” Marx’s “alienation,” and Weber’s “disenchantment.”

Steven B. Smith (b. 1951) American political scientist, academic, author
Modernity and Its Discontents (2016)
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Added on 26-May-21 | Last updated 26-May-21
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NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess — and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.

William Goldman (1931-2018) American screenwriter, novelist
Adventures in the Screen Trade, ch. 1 (1983)
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Added on 25-May-21 | Last updated 25-May-21
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And the funny thing was that people who weren’t entirely certain they were right always argued much louder than other people, as if the main person they were trying to convince were themselves.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Diggers (1990)
 
Added on 6-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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You must have three essentials for the investigation of Chan [Zen]. The first is that you must have the foundation of great faith. The second is that you must have a zealous determination. The third is that you must have the feeling of great doubt. If you omit one of these it is like breaking off the leg of a tripod, which ends up becoming a useless vessel.

高峰云、叅禪須具三要 一有大信根
二有大憤志 三有大疑情 苟闕其一
如折足之鼎 終成廢器。

Hyujeong (1520-1604) Korean Seon (Sŏn, Zen) Master [Sosan Taesa, Seosan Daesa, Dae Seonsa]
Mirror of Zen [Samga Gwigam; Samga Kwigom; Seonga Gwigam], ch. 14 [tr. Jorgensen (2012)]
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Alternate translations:

For the study of Seon, there are three requirements: (1) having the great root of faith; (2) having great determination, and (3) having great doubt. If you lack one of these, it is like a broken like on a tripod sacrificial vessel. In the end you will discard it.
[tr. Miller (2017)]

There are three essentials to Sŏn meditation. First of all, you must be rooted in Great Faith and Great Confidence. Secondly, one must have Great Anger -- a strong, inwardly-directed, ardent determination to practice. Thirdly, one must have Great Doubt. If one of these is missing, it is like a tripod vessel with one leg cut off -- in the end, it will be of no use.
[Source]

It is well known that Ganhwaseon practitioners must have three things of essential importance: The first is a Foundation of Great Faith (大信根) for the practice which is possible; the second is Great Zealous Determination (大憤志) of practice to attain enlightenment; the third is a Great Feeling of Doubt (大疑情) on the Hwadu. If one of these is lacking, then it is like a tripod pot with a broken foot and is useless.
[Source]

 
Added on 22-Mar-21 | Last updated 22-Mar-21
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If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie — a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days — but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Interview with Roger Errera (Oct 1973), The New York Review of Books (26 Oct 1978)
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Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 21-Jan-21
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We may not be able to get certainty, but we can get probability, and half a loaf is better than no bread.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“Historicism,” The Month (Oct 1950)
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Regarding historical inquiry based on incomplete evidence. First reprinted in Christian Reflections (1967).
 
Added on 11-Jan-21 | Last updated 11-Jan-21
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Man must accept the responsibility for himself and the fact that only by using his own powers can he give meaning to his life. But meaning does not imply certainty; indeed, the quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel a man to unfold his powers. If he faces the truth without panic, he will recognize that there is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers, by living productively.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
Man for Himself, ch. 3 (1947)
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Added on 7-Dec-20 | Last updated 7-Dec-20
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ALCESTE: Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths.

[Les doutes sont fâcheux plus que toute autre chose.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 3, sc. 5, l. 1122 (1666) [tr. Wormeley]

Alt. trans.: "Doubts are more torturing than any truth." [tr. Page]
 
Added on 8-May-20 | Last updated 8-May-20
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A babe is nothing but a bundle of possibilities.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, “Children” (1887) [ed. William Drysdale]
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Added on 28-Apr-20 | Last updated 28-Apr-20
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So we have to make guesses in order to give any utility at all to science. In order to avoid simply describing experiments that have been done, we have to propose laws beyond their observed range. There is nothing wrong with that, despite the fact that it makes science uncertain. If you thought before that science was certain — well, that is just an error on your part.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
The Character of Physical Law, ch. 3 “The Great Conservation Principles” (1965)
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Added on 10-Jan-20 | Last updated 10-Jan-20
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Warped with satisfactions and terrors, woofed with too many ambiguities and too few certainties, life can be lived best not when we have the answers — because we will never have those — but when we know enough to live it right out to the edges, edges sometimes marked by other people, sometimes showing only our own footprints.

Rosalie Maggio (1944-2021) American writer
The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women, Introduction (1996)
 
Added on 16-Feb-18 | Last updated 16-Feb-18
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Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!

George Meredith (1828-1909) English novelist and poet
Modern Love, Sonnet 50 (1862)
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Added on 17-Nov-17 | Last updated 17-Nov-17
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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)
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Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 17-Apr-17
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Suspicion begets suspicion.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 928 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
 
Added on 15-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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The ignorance of even the best-informed investor about the more remote future is much greater than his knowledge, and he cannot but be influenced to a degree which would seem wildly disproportionate to anyone who really knew the future, and be forced to seek a clue mainly here to trends further ahead. But if this is true of the best-informed, the vast majority of those who are concerned with the buying and selling of securities know almost nothing whatever about what they are doing. They do not possess even the rudiments of what is required for a valid judgement, and are the prey of hopes and fears easily aroused by transient events and as easily dispelled.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
A Treatise on Money, Vol. 2 (1930)
 
Added on 6-Dec-16 | Last updated 6-Dec-16
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God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please — you can never have both.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Intellect,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Added on 11-Nov-16 | Last updated 22-Dec-22
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Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae, l. 943
 
Added on 17-Aug-16 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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Hope for the best.
Expect the worst.
The world’s a stage.
We’re unrehearsed.

Brooks - were unrehearsed - wist_info quote

Mel Brooks (b. 1926) American comedic actor, writer, producer [b. Melvyn Kaminsky]
The Twelve Chairs, “Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst”, chorus (1970)
 
Added on 20-Jul-16 | Last updated 20-Jul-16
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Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Foundation’s Edge, ch. 12 “Agent” (1982)
 
Added on 12-Jul-16 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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The best advice I’ve ever received is, “No one else knows what they’re doing either.”

Gervais - what theyre doing either - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Tweet (7 Oct 2014)
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Added on 9-Jun-16 | Last updated 9-Jun-16
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There are many fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtless friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of some less fortunate fellow traveler. Today you can make your life big, broad, significant and worthwhile. The present is yours to do with it as you will.

Kleiser - today is the day - wist_info quote

Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953) Canadian-American self-help author
Inspiration And Ideals: Thoughts For Every Day, “August Twenty-Eighth” (1918 ed.)
 
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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So as this only point among the rest remaineth sure and certain, namely, that nothing is certain.

Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, military commander [Gaius Plinius Secundus]
Natural History, Book 2, ch. 7 (AD 77-79)
 
Added on 9-May-16 | Last updated 9-May-16
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Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Asimov’s Guide to Science (1972)
 
Added on 26-Apr-16 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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I’m not really rich. I’m something far more noble I’m a job creator. [Heavenly chorus] Sort of the same way Patagonian tooth-fish became Chilean sea-bass. [Heavenly chorus] But y’know what, just by suggesting, just by bringing it up, that he is going to tax me more, Comrade Obama has created an atmosphere of uncertainty that makes me skittish about creating more jobs, yeah, I have been so freaked out that today at breakfast I could barely butter my gold. You see, you poor people, you don’t get how much “uncertainty” gives us job creators the willies. It’s terrifying — like when you find out your private island has natives; or when your wife notices the maid’s kid looks just like you; or when the limo driver tries to start a conversation. So tax me at a higher rate if you like, you’re practically firing yourselves. Because I’ll tell you something, I have been so shitting in my pants about this uncertainty thing, that yesterday I let go a dozen essential workers at my compound, including my Tivo programmer, my manscaper, the liposuctionist, my gardener’s personal trainer, my dog whisperer, the lookalike I hired to foil assassination attempts, my private farmer, the lady who dispenses hand sanitizer after our pre-show prayer circle, the girl I pay to mistake me for Jon Hamm, and the guy who takes care of the shark tank. Which reminds me, I’m gonna have to let go two sharks!

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher (23 Sep 2011)
 
Added on 24-Feb-16 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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Look, I tried the cat experiment. On the third trial, the cat was dead. On each of the subsequent 413 trials, it remained dead. Am I doing something wrong?

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
“SCHRODINGER’S CAT??” sci.physics, Usenet (11 Mar 1992)
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Added on 1-Feb-16 | Last updated 1-Feb-16
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When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Anonymous
 
Added on 29-Oct-15 | Last updated 29-Oct-15
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The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 1 “A Long-expected Party” (1954)
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Sung by Bilbo as he leaves Bag End. Two chapters later, Frodo sings the same song when walking with Sam, Merry, and Pippin, but substitutes "weary" for "eager."
 
Added on 3-Sep-15 | Last updated 7-Apr-22
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If ever there’s a tomorrow where we’re not together, there is something you must remember. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) English poet and playwright [Alan Alexander Milne]
(Misattributed)
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Christopher Robin to Pooh Bear. The quotation is broadly attributed to Milne and Winnie the Pooh, but is actually from the 1997 Disney video Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, written by Carter Crocker and Karl Geurs, based on the characters created by Milne.
 
Added on 14-Aug-15 | Last updated 14-Aug-15
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In fact, the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Lords and Ladies (1992)
 
Added on 12-Aug-15 | Last updated 12-Aug-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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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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Not that indeed I imitated the sceptics, who only doubt for the sake of doubting, and pretend to be always uncertain; for, on the contrary, my design was only to provide myself with good ground for assurance, and to reject the quicksand and mud in order to find the rock or clay.

[Non que j’imitasse pour cela les sceptiques, qui ne doutent que pour douter, et affectent d’être toujours irrésolus; car, au contraire, tout mon dessein ne tendoit qu’à m’assurer, et à rejeter la terre mouvante et le sable pour trouver le roc ou l’argile.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 3 (1637) [tr. Haldane & Ross (1911)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Not that I therein imitated the Scepticks, who doubt onely to the end they may doubt, and affect to be always unresolved: For on the contrary, all my designe tended onely to fix my self, and to avoid quick-mires and sands, that I might finde rock and clay.
[tr. Newcombe ed. (1649)]

Not that in this I imitated the sceptics who doubt only that they may doubt, and seek nothing beyond uncertainty itself; for, on the contrary, my design was singly to find ground of assurance, and cast aside the loose earth and sand, that I might reach the rock or the clay.
[tr. Veitch (1901)]

For all that, I did not imitate the sceptics who doubt only for doubting's sake, and pretend to be always undecided; on the contrary, my whole intention was to arrive at a certainty, and to dig away the drift and the sand until I reached the rock or the clay beneath.
[tr. Huxley (1870)]

In doing this I was not copying the sceptics, who doubt only for the sake of doubting and pretend to be always undecided; on the contrary, my whole aim was to reach certainty -- to cast aside the loose earth and sand so as to come upon rock or clay.
[tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]

 
Added on 28-Dec-12 | Last updated 4-Jun-22
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[T]imid men […] prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Philip Mazzei (24 Apr 1796)
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Added on 4-Jul-11 | Last updated 2-Aug-22
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“I will take the Ring,” he said, “though I do not know the way.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 2 “The Council of Elrond” [Frodo] (1954)
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Accepting the quest to take the One Ring to Mordor and its destruction.
 
Added on 31-May-11 | Last updated 3-Nov-22
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Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 2 “The Council of Elrond” [Gandalf] (1954)
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Added on 24-May-11 | Last updated 1-Dec-22
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The uncompromising attitude is more indicative of an inner uncertainty than of deep conviction. The implacable stand is directed more against the doubt than the assailant without.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 63 (1955)
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Added on 9-Jul-10 | Last updated 23-Jun-22
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Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1879 [ed. Paine (1935)]
 
Added on 23-Mar-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?” (1947)
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Added on 4-Nov-08 | Last updated 5-Apr-21
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