On doubts and certainties

I’ve always enjoyed the Francis Bacon quotation:

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.

It seems to mean more to me as I grow older. Odd, that.

And it was with this quotation in mind that I resonated with Doc Searls’s statement that blogs are essentially provisional in nature, and I try and behave that way.

So you can imagine how I felt when I read in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography:
….And as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning and sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive assuming manner that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat most of those purposes for which speech was given to us.

In fact, if you wish to instruct others, a positive dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may occasion opposition and prevent a candid attention.

If you desire instruction and improvement from others, you should not at the same time express yourself fixed in your present opinions. Modest and sensible men, who do not love disputation, will  leave you undisturbed in the possession of your errors. In adopting such a manner, you can seldom expect to please hearers or obtain the concurrence you desire.

Pope judiciously observes: Men must be taught as if you taught them not, and things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Interesting sentiments. And how pleasant to be able to quote them without having to worry about copyright, I think even retrospective Son-of-Mickey-Mouse Acts will leave Benjamin Franklin alone. But maybe I’m wrong.

Let me know what you think

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