Gamblers see no risk.
This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.
There are two distinct meanings for the word “certainty”. One meaning refers to a feeling or emotion and describes a mental state, while the other refers to the outcome of a logical procedure that can be implemented on a piece of paper or a computer. However, we are also familiar with attempting to execute the procedure in our minds.
We often conflate these two meanings of “certainty”. We may mistakenly assume that experiencing a sense of certainty indicates the presence of rational, objective proof for our beliefs. Conversely, we may delude ourselves into thinking that acknowledging the absence of proof for a particular stance implies a lack of emotional certainty.
Gamblers, particularly compulsive ones, often wager their money based on an unwavering belief that there is no risk involved. Although they may use language that acknowledges the existence of alternative possibilities, they still experience an emotional sense of complete certainty.
It is fair to say that almost all of us engage in some form of gambling. We are all required to make decisions for which there is no guarantee of a certain outcome. We often hold beliefs that conflict with opposing views, with no logical proof to resolve the dispute. Nevertheless, we experience a strong sense of certainty regarding our position and often base our decisions on this emotional conviction.
The ability to separate our emotional and rational faculties in this manner is a valuable asset. Without this capability, we would be incapacitated by our inability to act, as we would be unable to overcome the rational uncertainty that often arises in our decision-making, and we could never decide which option to take or which belief to hold. However, sometimes we need the emotional sense of certainty to override our rational side, which can enable us to make a decision and act upon it.
It could even be argued that societies with a relatively egalitarian structure have a greater need for an oracular source of certainty. Without such a source, the endless debate and conflicting views could prevent the society from reaching a resolution. It may not be significant whether the Oracle has any greater access to the truth than we do, as long as the society can reach a collective agreement and move forward.
We should be aware of our tendency to rely on emotional certainty like gamblers, but we must continue to do so.
submitted by /u/eliyah23rd