Ambiguity

What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.

If we are to perceive all the implications of the new, we must risk, at least temporarily, ambiguity and is order.

Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality.

The greater the ambiguity, the greater the impact of preconceptions.

Just as life is defined as biological change and death as its lack, so meaning in life is characterized by the application of stable patterns to changing circumstances and the replacing of old patterns of understanding with new and exploratory ones. Meaning is found in the losing of it, the searching after it, and in the finding of it again. The meaning in your life is in flux and is to be found in the flux (the flow) of meaning, which is therefore itself a source of meaning in your life. All this does require, however, the developing of a tolerance for ambiguity, of a willingness to accept the inevitability of change and the precariousness of your present vision, and of an openness to the unending richness of your experience of the world in its manifold variety and diversity.

Moral ambiguity creates mental cramps of various sorts, which lead to reflection, discussion, and argument… Morality resists theoretical unification under either a set of special-purpose rules or single general-purpose rule or principle, such as the categorical imperative or the principle of unity. If this is right, and if it is right because the ends of moral life are plural and heterogeneous in kind and because our practices of moral education rightly reflect this, then we have some greater purchase on why the project of finding a single theoretically satisfying moral theory has failed.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.

The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens, whether the cancer never flares up again or whether you die, the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.

What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.

The awareness of the ambiguity of one's highest achievements (as well as one's deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.

The character of human life, like the character of the human condition, like the character of all life, is "ambiguity": the inseparable mixture of good and evil, the true and false, the creative and destructive forces - both individual and social.

A soul-oriented spirituality begins in a reevaluation of the qualities of soul: subtlety, complexity, ripening, worldliness, incompleteness, ambiguity, wonder.

Everything remains to be said on the subject of the Ghost and the ambiguity of the Return, for what renders it intolerable is not so much that it is an announcement of death nor even the proof that death exists, since this Ghost announces and proves nothing more than his return. What is intolerable is that the Ghost erases the limit which exists between two states, neither alive nor dead ; passing through, the dead man returns in the manner of the Repressed. It is his coming back which makes the ghost what he is, just as it is the return of the Repressed that inscribes the repression. In the end, death is never anything more than the disturbance of the limits. The impossible is to die.

What we all have discovered together, only rarely in classrooms, is that the passage of years guarantees very little in the way of answers, that ambivalence and ambiguity will follow us all the days of our lives, but that words and wit and woods and food and music will endure as sources of comfort.

It is no more natural and no less conventional to shout in anger or to kiss in love than to call a table 'a table'. Feelings and passional conduct are invented like words. Even those which like paternity seem to be part and parcel of the human make-up are in reality institutions. It is impossible to superimpose on man a lower layer of behavior which one chooses to call 'natural' followed by a manufactured cultural or spiritual world. Everything is both manufactured and natural in man as it were in the sense that there is not a word, not a form of behavior which does not owe something to purely biological being and which at the same time does not elude the simplicity of animal life and cause forms of vital behavior to deviate from their pre-ordained direction through a sort of leakage and through a genius for ambiguity which might serve to define man.

Between these two unique and symmetrical events, something happens whose ambiguity has left the historians of medicine at a loss: blind repression in an absolutist regime, according to some; but according to others, the gradual discovery by science and philanthropy of madness in its positive truth. As a matter of fact, beneath these reversible meanings, a structure is forming which does not resolve the ambiguity but determines it. It is this structure which accounts for the transition from the medieval and humanist experience of madness to our own experience, which confines insanity within mental illness. In the Middle Ages and until the Renaissance, man's dispute with madness was a dramatic debate in which he confronted the secret powers of the world; the experience of madness was clouded by images of the Fall and the Will of God, of the Beast and the Metamorphosis, and of all the marvelous secrets of Knowledge. In our era, the experience of madness remains silent in the composure of a knowledge which, knowing too much about madness, forgets it. But from one of these experiences to the other, the shift has been made by a world without images, without positive character, in a kind of silent transparency which reveals— as mute institution, act without commentary, immediate knowledge—a great motionless structure; this structure is one of neither drama nor knowledge; it is the point where history is immobilized in the tragic category which both establishes and impugns it.

If truth is the main casualty in war, ambiguity is another.

The difference between theism and non-theism is not whether one does or does not believe in God. . . Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there's some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us… Non-theism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves.

I must first clear up an ambiguity in the phrase 'doing evil that good may come'. We cannot ask whether e. g. Caesar's death was a good or bad thing to happen; there are various titles under which it may be called good or bad. One might very well say e. g. that a violent death was a bad thing to happen to a living organism but a good thing to happen to a man who claimed divine worship, and this would again leave it open whether doing Caesar to death was a good or bad thing to do for Brutus and the rest. Now when I speak of 'not doing evil that good may come', what I mean is that certain sorts of act are such bad things to do that they must never be done to secure any good or avoid any evil. For A to kill a man or cut off his arm is not necessarily a bad thing to do, though it is necessarily bad that such a thing should happen to a living organism. Only by a fallacy of equivocation can people argue that if you accept the principle of not doing evil that good may come, then you must be against capital punishment and surgical operations.

If we consider that part of the theory of relativity which may nowadays in a sense be regarded as bone fide scientific knowledge, we note two aspects which have a major bearing on this theory. The whole development of the theory turns on the question of whether there are physically preferred states of motion in Nature (physical relativity problem). Also, concepts and distinctions are only admissible to the extent that observable facts can be assigned to them without ambiguity (stipulation that concepts and distinctions should have meaning). This postulate, pertaining to epistemology, proves to be of fundamental importance.