„To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.“

No. 61.
Maxims and Moral Sentences

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update June 3, 2021. History
Stanisław Leszczyński photo
Stanisław Leszczyński10
king of Poland 1677 - 1766

Related quotes

Francis Bacon photo

„If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.“

—  Francis Bacon, book The Advancement of Learning

Book I, v, 8
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
Source: The Advancement Of Learning
Context: The two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action commonly spoken of by the ancients: the one plain and smooth in the beginning, and in the end impassable; the other rough and troublesome in the entrance, but after a while fair and even. So it is in contemplation: If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.

Richard Feynman photo

„We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know?“

—  Richard Feynman, book The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don't know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.
from lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy (1964)
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999)

Leonardo Da Vinci photo
Anne Lamott photo

„The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty.“

—  Anne Lamott Novelist, essayist, memoirist, activist 1954

Françoise Sagan photo

„It's not doubt that drives people crazy, it's certainty that does.“

—  Françoise Sagan French writer 1935 - 2004

Un chagrin de passage (1994, A Fleeting Sorrow, translated 1995)

Laurie Penny photo
Ludwig Wittgenstein photo
Benjamin N. Cardozo photo
Saul D. Alinsky photo
Peter Abelard photo
Ashley Montagu photo

„The scientist believes in proof without certainty, the bigot in certainty without proof.“

—  Ashley Montagu British-American anthropologist 1905 - 1999

The second sentence is often misquoted as “Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.” or “Religion gives us certainty without proof; science gives us proof without certainty.”
Context: Bigotry and science can have no communication with each other, for science begins where bigotry and absolute certainty end. The scientist believes in proof without certainty, the bigot in certainty without proof. Let us never forget that tyranny most often springs from a fanatical faith in the absoluteness of one’s beliefs.

Colin Wilson photo
Adam Roberts photo
George MacDonald photo
Roger Bacon photo

„If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics…“

—  Roger Bacon, book Opus Majus

Bk. 1, ch. 4. Translated by Robert B. Burke, in: Edward Grant (1974) Source Book in Medieval Science. Harvard University Press. p. 93
Opus Majus, c. 1267

Richard Feynman photo
Edward R. Murrow photo

„To be persuasive, We must be believable,
To be believable, We must be credible,
To be credible, We must be truthful.“

—  Edward R. Murrow Television journalist 1908 - 1965

Speaking as the Director of USIA, in testimony before a Congressional Committee (May 1963) http://pdaa.publicdiplomacy.org/?page_id=6
Context: American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.

Richard Feynman photo

„We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.“

—  Richard Feynman American theoretical physicist 1918 - 1988

The Value of Science (1955)
Context: The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain. Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.

Samuel R. Delany photo
Albert Camus photo

„I proclaim that I believe in nothing and that everything is absurd, but I cannot doubt the validity of my proclamation and I must at least believe in my protest.“

—  Albert Camus, book The Rebel

Source: The Rebel (1951), pp. 8 - 10 as quoted in Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd';(2002) by Avi Sagi, p. 44
Context: The absurd … is an experience to be lived through, a point of departure, the equivalent, in existence of Descartes' methodical doubt. Absurdism, like methodical doubt, has wiped the slate clean. It leaves us in a blind alley. But, like methodical doubt, it can, by returning upon itself, open up a new field of investigation, and in the process of reasoning then pursues the same course. I proclaim that I believe in nothing and that everything is absurd, but I cannot doubt the validity of my proclamation and I must at least believe in my protest. The first and only evidence that is supplied me, within the terms of the absurdist experience, is rebellion … Rebellion is born of the spectacle of irrationality, confronted with an unjust and incomprehensible condition.

Related topics