“Human beings want to feel that they are on a power walk into the future, when in fact we are always just tapping our canes on the pavement in the fog.”

August 15, 2021

Writing just a few months into the pandemic, humanities professor Mark Lilla discussed how much humans hate uncertainty and how desperately we want to be told what to do. On both counts, Lilla reminds us that, no matter how high the stakes may be, we’re stuck with not knowing: “The pandemic has brought home just how great a responsibility we bear toward the future, and also how inadequate our knowledge is for making wise decisions and anticipating consequences.” He counsels humility and greater acceptance of “the radical uncertainty in which we are always living.” Now, halfway into the pandemic’s second year, his words look prescient.

“No One Knows What’s Going to Happen: Stop asking pundits to predict the future after the coronavirus. It doesn’t exist,” by Mark Lilla, New York Times