Herewith a few sceptical quotes to mull over:
I wish to propose for the reader’s favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever to for supposing it true.
Bertrand Russell “Sceptical Essays”.
Russell’s famous opening line in his “Sceptical Essays” very much reflects the way that science works – or, at least, the way that it ought to work. Wouldn’t the world be a different place if we all followed a similar precept?
The whole sense of the book might be summed up the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.
Ludwig Wittgenstein “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”
Wittgenstein submitted his book, written in the trenches during World War I, for a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. One of his examiners commented “In my opinion, this is a work of genius. be that as it may, it fulfils the requirements for a Ph.D.”
I’m still thinking about Wittgenstein’s famous saying. Unfortunately, I can’t quite put it into words. The Cambridge mathematician Frank Ramsey managed too, though:
What you can’t say, you can’t say, and you can’t whistle it either
Ramsey was a genuine genius who died after an appendix operation at the early age of 26. By then, he had already come up with “Ramsey numbers” gives the solution to the “party problem” which asks the minimum number of guests R(m,n) that must be invited so that at least m will know each other or at least n will not know each other. The mathematics gets very heavy as the numbers go up, so to lighten the mood, here are a couple of sceptical quotes from Tom Stoppards “Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead”, which reinterprets Hamlet from the point of viie of this unfortunate pair.
The play begins with Rosencrantz tossing a coin to Guildenstern and calling “heads”, which is what turns up 76 times in a row:
Guil: A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith, if in nothing else at least in the law of probability.
And finally, this is where their philosophical meditations get them:
Ros: ……. Where’s it going to end?
Guil: That’s the question.
Ros: It’s all questions