3 takes on dealing with uncertainty

Sunday, July 19, 2020 - 12:30 in Psychology & Sociology

In this time of profound uncertainty, society can be sure of one thing: more uncertainty. The seemingly opaque path forward for us, individually and collectively, was the Gazette’s topic with three Harvard professors who shared insights into how uncertainty is viewed in their fields, and the surprising ways in which it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In the beginning was the word “The word ‘uncertainty’ derives from the [Latin] verb cernere, which means ‘to distinguish, to mark out, to separate one thing from the rest, to discern,’’’ said John Hamilton, William R. Kenan Professor of German and Comparative Literature. “When faced with a vast onslaught of data or with an overwhelming flood of disparate information, cernere denotes the capacity to make distinctions, to discover identities and understand the links between them. It is the first step toward knowledge, to single out one phenomenon from the field of manifold experience. “Uncertainty is an ability...

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