Uncertainty discerns that one is always uncertain about everything. For instance, 1+1 may not necessarily equal 2, and our existence may be figments of imagination.

Would this theory always have one exception: You are certain that you are uncertain?


2 Answers 2


'Uncertain' is a tricky term'. 'One is always uncertain about everything' - does this mean that 1+1 might not = 2 and that our existence might be a figment of imagination ? That these are logical possibilities about which you cannot have epistemological certainty ? By which I mean that you are uncertain that (say) 1 + 1 = 2 because you don't have evidence that gives indefeasible justification for the belief that 1 = 1 = 2.

So your examples are examples of epistemological uncertainty. But in your question, 'You are certain that you are uncertain?', while the 'uncertain' is epistemological, the 'certain' is subjective. It means that you have the highest degree of confidence that the beliefs listed in your examples, and all others like them, are such that you do not have evidence that gives indefeasible justification for them.

You might reply that you have not merely subjective certainty that you do not have evidence that gives indefeasible justification for the beliefs in question. Instead, you have epistemological certainty about this. But how so ? Ex hypothesi, this belief itself is not based on indefeasible evidence since there is no evidence you can trust. All evidence has gone with the beliefs which you have bracketed out as epistemologically uncertain. You are just left with the highest degree of confidence that none of your beliefs is based on indefeasible evidence. And this is merely a psychological, not an epistemological, state.

My suggestion is that there is an unintentional slide in your remarks from epistemological uncertainty to psychological certainty.

You pose an interesting question, intriguing to grapple with. Naturally I claim no epistemological certainty that I am right ! But you have my arguments.

  • I believe more can be added to the excellent arguments stated here: although you can be subjectively certain of your beliefs, you cab doubt that certainty and question your epistemological uncertainty (maybe 1+1 is indeed 2). But the one thing you can absolutely never doubt is your subjectiveness, so in the end of this infinite regression you'll always end up with Descartes' "I think". You can't doubt that merely because of your human limitations - you can't "think" outside of your thoughts. But, indeed, as you've stated, this is definitely a false attempt to grapple both fields together. Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 22:46

Uncertainty means no determinable pattern and would mean the there is no pattern to events overall in the absolute of eternity an intractable problem. Certainty a determinable one with absolute pattern but still subject to the question of eternity an intractable one. I guess we will never be certain either way!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .