"Who shall forbid a wise skepticism,
seeing that there is no practical question
on which anything more than
an approximate solution can be had?"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, and poet
Representative Men, 1850
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Reader comments about this quote:
Emerson is one of our wisest, in the history of American philosophy. Where is there a clearer statement of the need for consultation among people of varying viewpoints on every significant question? It only confirms the great difficulty of decision-making on critical issues...and the need for wisdom to be brought to bear on them.
 -- Constance Ashton Myers, Ph.D., Columbia, SC     
    It's the wording of this quote that makes it too difficult to filter through to the exact meaning.
     -- D M, B.     
    Just read his words carefully, with a good dictionary (Oxford or Webster) if necessary. These words mean precisely what they say. (With a problem for which there is no obvious popular solution, listen to the man who offers an unpopular possibility).
     -- John-Douglas of Nassau, Sarnia     
    A WISE skepticism, yes. But not the mocking, sneering ridicule that is so prevalent today.
     -- Jim Moravec, Lemont     
    This is at the very crux of liberty -- the right to reason, to question, to conscience. The freedom of religion and speech is the freedom to question the status quo. Those that are 'sure' will have trouble with this quote -- but it is because we all cannot agree on religious and political opinions that we must not let those in power dictate to us what we must believe and thus 'serve'. Whether we like it or not, most of our assumptions about the world are 'approximate solutions.' A healthy skepticism is what a republican form of government is all about -- powers must be distributed and balanced to protect the people from tyranny.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    After the last two administrations...I'm way beyond skepticism.
    They're all straight up liars period!
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
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