Monday, July 05, 2004

What Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger

The following words summarize my own attitude towards knowledge-seeking:

... our dreams and our hopes need not necessarily control our results, and ... in searching for the truth, it may be our best plan to start by criticizing our most cherished beliefs. This may seem to some a perverse plan. But it will not seem so to those who want to find the truth and are not afraid of it.
-- Karl Popper, "On the Sources of Knowledge and Ignorance," Part IV, Conjectures and Refutations.

POSTSCRIPT: On further reflection, it occurs to me that a certain Cromwellian phrase I first encountered on Mrs Tilton's old blog captures just the sort of attitude I'm talking about:
I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that ye may be mistaken.
Cromwell was hardly the sort of person to think such a phrase ought to have applied in equal measure to himself, and the Christian reference may be jarring to modern sensibilities, but I think the basic message - the need to seriously consider the possibility that one might be in error - is one that remains valid regardless of time or place.