What Can We Know?

Posted on 2013 April 8


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            “The secret to life in two words: not always so.” — Shunryu Suzuki

“Nullius in verba.” (“Take nobody’s word for it.”) — The Royal Society

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Richard Feynman

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge.” — Daniel J. Boorstin

“The first step toward predicting the future is admitting you can’t.” — Stephen J. Dubner

“The art of concluding from experience and observation consists in evaluating probabilities, in estimating if they are high or numerous enough to constitute proof. This type of calculation is more complicated and more difficult than one might think.” — Benjamin Franklin

“We can’t predict what that will be or when we will find it because if we knew that, we would have found it already!” — Stephen Hawking

“To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. ‘Tis much better to do a little with certainty, & leave the rest for others that come after you, than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of any thing.” — Isaac Newton

“Doubt grows with knowledge.” — Goethe

“I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” — Stephen Hawking

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade.” — Rabindranath Tagore

“Scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty . . . ” — Richard Feynman

“Neither your gods, nor your science can save you, can bring you psychological certainty; and you have to accept that you can trust in absolutely nothing.” — J. Krishnamurti

“I wish that I could be decisive, then I’d understand where life is going for me.” — Martha and the Muffins

“Our limited perspective, our hopes and fears become our measure of life, and when circumstances don’t fit our ideas, they become our difficulties.” — Jack Kornfield

“The only person who can solve the labyrinth of yourself is you.” — Jeremy Denk

“Where doubt there truth is—’tis her shadow.” — Philip James Bailey

“Doubting charms me not less than knowledge.” — Dante

“Doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door.” — Benjamin Jowett

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” — Robert Hughes

“Nothing is but what is not.” — Shakespeare

“By ignorance the truth is known.” — Heinrich Suso

“To rest upon a formula is a slumber that, prolonged, means death.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.” — Aleister Crowley

“To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“I deny nothing, but doubt everything.” — Lord Byron

“There’s a certain kind of skepticism that can’t bear uncertainty.” — Rupert Sheldrake

“When the mind is in a state of uncertainty the smallest impulse directs it to either side.” — Terence

“Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.” — J. Krishnamurti

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. — Bertrand Russell

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” — Yeats

“Don’t get cocky.” — George Lucas

 *  *  *  *

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE (that I found later):

“You may be wrong for all I know
/ But you may be right.” — Billy Joel

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” — Mark Twain

“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the 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