The intellectual discipline of second-guessing

“My first class of freshmen, all those years ago, certainly had reservations about Monsieur Descartes’s method of systematic doubt. Once they were reassured about their instructor’s sanity, though, they got into the spirit of things, and some, at least, came to see why epistemology — the study of knowledge — might be worthwhile. Maybe not practical … unless you were looking for a job as a professor. But interesting. Mind-expanding, even. Possibly, there was something to be said for the intellectual discipline of second-guessing what you thought was true. And that wasn’t just good for them. Who would want to live in a nation of people without doubts?”

—Kwame Anthony Appiah, “What Is the Point of College?


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