The Thought for the Day – Francis Bacon

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.  – Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English writer, statesman and philosopher who has contributed to this feature before. The grain of today’s Thought is hardly a surprise from a man often regarded as the founder of empiricism, a philosophical branch which believes knowledge comes from experience. Bacon had a habit of living beyond his means and don’t cross him: he played leading roles in the executions of Mary, Queen of Scots and his friend, the Earl of Essex, who planned a revolt against Queen Elizabeth I. Bacon’s influence on both the philosophical and natural sciences over the centuries has been profound.

One of the great lessons life offers is that not everything is either as it seems or as we perceive it to be. Holding on to these beliefs blindly hinders our growth and prevents us from getting the most out of our time on this planet.

It’s not easy to begin with doubts. Doubts mean uncertainty and uncertainty can make us nervous and afraid to venture and try new things. It’s the way the world is built, part of our human experience since time immemorial. But we must doubt external influences because the only real certainties in this life come from our own experience.

…but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

We can study only so much. We can learn from the masters only so much. We can trust blindly to the fates only so much. Eventually, there will be a time when we will have to sharpen our blade on the experience of life. When we do that we will be open to what nature and circumstance provide for us and be in a position to take full advantage of it. Only then will our doubts be changed to certainties.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Gaylon began stockpiling quotes in 1988.

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