One of my favorite topics is uncertainty, and the ambiguous nature of truth. I’ve spoken about it a number of times, written about a few times in this blog (although not recently, I think) and so on. I am, in fact, trying to finish up a Yom Kippur sermon on this very topic (it’s my first attempt to really speak systematically about this idea, which I believe to be utterly fundamental. It’s making me think that maybe, someday, I’ll actually be able to follow through on my threat to write a book about it). When trying to find a few last pieces, I came across the following:
I believe that ideas such as absolute certitude, absolute exactness, final truth, etc. are figments of the imagination which should not be admissible in any field of science… This loosening of thinking seems to me to be the greatest blessing which modern science has given to us. For the belief in a single truth and in being the possessor thereof is the root cause of all evil in the world.
Max Born, Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, 1954
It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.
Anatole France, Noble Prize laureate in literature, 1921
Believe those who seek the truth, doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide, Noble Prize laureate in literature, 1947