From vexing uncertainty to intellectual humility

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A philosopher with schizophrenia wrote a harrowing account of how he experiences schizophrenia. And I wonder if some of the lessons are true for everyone, and what that means for society.

"It’s definite belief, not certainty, that allows me to get along. It’s not that certainty, or something like it, never matters. If you are fixing dinner for me I’ll try to be clear about the eggplant allergy [...] But most of the time, just having a definite, if unconfirmed and possibly false, belief about the situation is fine. It allows one to get along.
"I think of this attitude as a kind of “intellectual humility” because although I do care about truth—and as a consequence of caring about truth, I do form beliefs about what is true—I no longer agonize about whether my judgments are wrong. For me, living relatively free from debilitating anxiety is incompatible with relentless pursuit of truth. Instead, I need clear beliefs and a willingness to change them when circumstances and evidence demand, without worrying about, or getting upset about, being wrong. This attitude has made life better and has made the “near-collapses” much rarer."

(first published on Facebook March 13, 2024)


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