A Certain Problem

The wise know too well their weakness to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows.

– Thomas Jefferson

Certainty is a supposition.

Webster’s dictionary defines certainty as follows:  suggests a firm, settled belief or positiveness in the truth of something.  A belief; further defined by Webster’s as:  1. conviction or acceptance that certain things are true or real, or 2. Faith    

 It follows that few things are absolutely certain. Extrapolate: what do we know to be true?  And how do we know it?  Are we certain based on what our senses tell us, or what historically has been accepted as fact?  Sometimes a sense of certainty simply springs from decades of common experience that lends itself to an explanation of the world we live in. We may cling to a sense of certainty that offers some rationalization for the application of luck and misfortune, life and death, ease or misery. We don’t like to admit how little we understand of the random nature of events, so we give labels to notions in order to make them concrete and compact, easily carried. We say we know, meaning we comprehend. Like the explanation that gravity is what keeps us rooted to the surface of a ball that spins in space, certainty lends itself to the notion of control.

Yet we remain uneasy. Our comprehension of the universe is still under construction.

(continue reading…)

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