On Probability

24 10 2008

When it comes to action, we can never wait until we have an absolutely certain understanding of the entire situation. We only take the path down which we are led by probability. Every “duty” must follow this path; for this is how we sow, sail, make war, get married, and have children. In all these things, the result is uncertain, but we nevertheless decide to undertake those actions which we think have some hope of succeeding….. We go where reason- and not absolute truth- leads us.

– Seneca, On Benefits

I posted this over a couple of years ago now, and recently, I was contemplating it again. Man today seems to want to be like God, and not in a good way. He wants absolute moral certainty that a position or action is the right one when this is simply not possible. That nagging voice that points us in the right direction never provides us with this certainty. We must follow it nevertheless, since we are human beings and not angels.


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