Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

by Lewis Carroll

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Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby Liz » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:08 pm

In the Chapter entitled Wool and Water:

The shop seemed to be full of all manner of curious things—but the oddest part of it all was that, whenever she looked hard at any shelf, to make out exactly what it had on it, that particular shelf was always quite empty, though the others round it were crowded as full as they could hold.

“Things flow about so here!” she said at last in a plaintive tone, after she had spent a minute or so in vainly pursuing a large bright thing, that looked sometimes like a doll and sometimes like a work-box, and was always in the shelf next above the one she was looking at.


From Note 12 by Gardner:

Carroll was a great admirer of Pascal’s Pensées. Jeffrey Stern, writing on “Lewis Carroll and Blaise Pascal” (in Jabberwocky, Spring 1983), quotes a passage that Carroll may well have had in mind when he wrote about how things flow about in the Sheep’s little shop:

[We are] incapable of certain knowledge or absolute ignorance. We are floating in a medium of vast extent, always drifting uncertainly, blown to and fro; whenever we think we have a fixed point to which we can cling and make fast, it shifts and leaves us behind; if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips away, and flees eternally before us. Nothing stands still for us. This is our natural state and yet the state most contrary to our inclinations. We burn with desire to find a firm footing, an ultimate, lasting base on which to build a tower rising up to infinity, but our whole foundation cracks.


Do we really want the security of certainty?
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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fansmom
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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby fansmom » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:30 pm

Well, yes. Will we ever get it? No. . . .

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby gemini » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:48 pm

This is our natural state and yet the state most contrary to our inclinations.

Yes, I agree with fansmom and from the quote above, it is our natural state.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby fansmom » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:16 pm

gemini wrote:
This is our natural state and yet the state most contrary to our inclinations.
Yes, I agree with fansmom and from the quote above, it is our natural state.
Isn't it tempting to say, "I'm not certain, but . . ." :whistle:

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:32 pm

Certainty seems to be the same as safety to me, although I suppose that is only if the certain thing is desirable. I dislike change intensely and am very frightened by the unknown. :fear:

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby Liz » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:21 pm

Yep, certainty is safety to me too, nebraska. I have to have my future all planned out. I know it may not turn out the way I plan. But I have to plan it anyway. Having a plan gives me a false sense of security, but it tends to work for me (unless something happens to make me doubt that my plans will come to fruition).
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:55 pm

'The only thing certain is change' - Socrates (?)

As much as we would like to rely on the safety of certainty we know it's not realistic and that is unsettling. I'm reading a good book right now titled "What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the chapters is about the "black swan" that is inevitable in the pond of white swans, in other word the unexpected and unpredictable will happen.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:19 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:'The only thing certain is change' - Socrates (?)

As much as we would like to rely on the safety of certainty we know it's not realistic and that is unsettling. I'm reading a good book right now titled "What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the chapters is about the "black swan" that is inevitable in the pond of white swans, in other word the unexpected and unpredictable will happen.


And I guess that is a form of certainty in itself. :-/

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby Linda Lee » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:10 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:'The only thing certain is change' - Socrates (?)

As much as we would like to rely on the safety of certainty we know it's not realistic and that is unsettling. I'm reading a good book right now titled "What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the chapters is about the "black swan" that is inevitable in the pond of white swans, in other word the unexpected and unpredictable will happen.



Isn't that what keeps life interesting?
We may think we want certainty, but life could become very dull. Yes, a certain amount of security would be nice but as we see in today's world everything changes so quickly, we must adapt or be lost.
Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm. ~ Unknown

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby deppaura » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:08 pm

I lean a bit toward what Linda Lee says. I lean that way, even though I appreciate the safety and comfort of certainty. I have always wanted to be able to shake off fear and move forward. I think of Joseph Campbell and the learning and teaching of Myths. I must admit it isn't my innate nature, but sometimes a "goal".

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:30 pm

I agree, deppaura and Linda Lee. It isn't always easy to embrace but it does keep things interesting.

nebraska, I believe that is true!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby gemini » Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:18 pm

Yes, Everyone has pointed out just how uncertain life is and we have to make the best of it. I think it is natural to want to know what is ahead, as some of you said just to feel a margin of safety. As you have said some are more comfortable with uncertainty than others but as a species we seem to have been given the ability to adapt. Just look at how we have changed since Alice was written.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby Buster » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:10 pm

Particle or wave? Schroedinger's cat? Great questions arise from uncertainty.

I also suspect some of the best events in our lives arrive in response to uncertainty.
Should I just leap off this (hopefully theoretical) cliff? For me, it has worked out surprising well to take the risk, and "just make it up as he goes along", so to speak.

Whenever I lapse into an expectancy of status quo, or some assurance that the future will run as I envision it, I am usually spectacularly wrong. I don't think I'd like it to be otherwise; boredom holds far more pitfalls than exploration.

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby fansmom » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:14 pm

Buster wrote:Schroedinger's cat?
There was a Jeopardy clue about that this evening, and one about AIW last night, and of course my thoughts went flitting off toward the ONBC both times.

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Re: Alice Question #14 ~ The Security of Certainty

Unread postby Liz » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:29 am

fansmom wrote:
Buster wrote:Schroedinger's cat?
There was a Jeopardy clue about that this evening, and one about AIW last night, and of course my thoughts went flitting off toward the ONBC both times.

Speaking of that cat, there is another cat (beatnik term from the 60s) who will be one of the 2 keynote speakers at a conference that I will probably be attending. Just think, fansmom, of the shock I felt when I saw him on the homepage of the conference. And why this conference? :-O



No worries, I'll report back if I go.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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