Theoretical Uncertainty has No Meaning

If one looks at the history of knowledge, it is plain that at the beginning men tried to know because they had to do so in order to live. In the absence of that organic guidance given by their structure to other animals, man had to find out what he was about, and he could find out only by studying the environment which constituted the means, obstacles and results of his behavior. The desire for intellectual or cognitive understanding had no meaning except as a means of obtaining greater security as to the issues of action. Moreover, even when after the coming of leisure some men were enabled to adopt knowing as their special calling or profession, merely theoretical uncertainty continues to have no meaning.

This statement will arouse protest. But the reaction against the statement will turn out when examined to be due to the fact that it is so difficult to find a case of purely intellectual uncertainty, that is one upon which nothing hangs. Perhaps as near to it as we can come is in the familiar story of the Oriental potentate who declined to attend a horse race on the ground that it was already well known to him that one horse could run faster than another. His uncertainty as to which of several horses could outspeed the others may be said to have been purely intellectual. But also in the story nothing depended from it no curiosity was aroused no effort was put forth to satisfy the uncertainty. In other words, he did not care it made no difference. And it is a strict truism that no one would care about any exclusively theoretical uncertainty or certainty.


Folksonomies: philosophy meaning theory

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Cognition (0.923888): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Truth (0.902067): dbpedia | freebase
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 The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dewey , John (1929), The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action, Retrieved on 2016-06-15
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  • Folksonomies: science philosophy