The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics
are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.
I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant,
I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility.
Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite.
The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple
as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so
paradoxical that no one will believe it.
The value of philosophy is . . . to be sought largely in its
very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy
goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from
common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation,
and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without
the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason.
To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite,
obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar
possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as
we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find . . .
that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which
only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though
unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer
to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many
possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from
the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling
of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our
knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat
arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into
the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense
of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy