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Epistemic virtues are habits and practices that make it possible to arrive at the best accessible approximation of the truth.
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- Sapere aude! Have the courage to use your own understanding.
- Immanuel Kant, "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)
- Τί δὲ καὶ ἀφ’ ἑαυτῶν οὐ κρίνετε τὸ δίκαιον;
- Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?
- Jesus in Gospel of Luke 12:57
- I keep having the same experience and keep resisting it every time. I do not want to believe it although it is palpable: the great majority of people lack an intellectual conscience. Indeed, it has often seemed to me as if anyone calling for an intellectual conscience were as lonely in the most densely populated cities as if he were in a desert. Everybody looks at you with strange eyes and goes right on handling his scales, calling this good and that evil. Nobody even blushes when you intimate that their weights are underweight; nor do people feel outraged; they merely laugh at your doubts. I mean: the great majority of people does not consider it contemptible to believe this or that and to live accordingly, without first having given themselves an account of the final and most certain reasons pro and con, and without even troubling themselves about such reasons afterward: the most gifted men and the noblest women still belong to this "great majority." But what is goodheartedness, refinement, or genius to me, when the person who has these virtues tolerates slack feelings in his faith and judgments and when he does not account the desire for certainty as his inmost craving and deepest distress—as that which separates the higher human beings from the lower.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882), Section 2
- Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer: there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness.
- George Santayana, The Works of George Santayana, p. 65