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Does choice lead to certainty or more choice


Does choice lead to certainty or more choice? On the one hand, options are appealing. We like to find new things, interesting things, meaningful things, and so on. Yet, on the other hand we want to know; we want to be certain. We wonder, “Will it work out” or “be a good fit.” We may wonder what others think, “Will people like it… will they like me?” Does choice lead to certainty or more choice?


When I was a kid, and got my first bass and I’d found my identity. Suddenly I had a direction, a purpose: I knew what I wanted—I wanted to be a bassist! This was something of which I was certain. Yet, certainty is illusive, and what being a bassist meant changed.


I remember the day I got my first bass. I remember telling my mother (who bought me the bass) how I was going to learn all the notes on the the bass and all the Rush songs—I did the former; not the latter. Something changed. Yet I was making decisions, choosing to do one thing and then, as life happened, as my perspectives shifted, as whatever dynamics were involved came to bear on the situation, certainty was transformed into choice. So I wonder, are they different?


Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “In sarcasm the prankster and the weakling meet. But they misunderstand each other” (Nietzsche, 1995, p. 48). I can’t help but wonder if choice and certainty meet in much the same way, and misunderstand each other—that choice is a kind of vivid sarcasm and certainty a regally posited sureness.


The word sarcasm comes from the Greek σαρκάζειν (sarkázein) which refers to tearing flesh (“Sarcasm,” 2021). Interestingly, if we look more closely at the word “decide” we find the Latin root decidere, and, as Amanda Lawson writes, “All the roots trace to the Latin verb caedere, meaning ‘to cut’. The death-related words are connected [homicide suicide, etc.,] because of the correlation between ‘cut’ and ‘kill’, a side meaning which later evolved from the word, and decide is connected because when you make a choice, you cut out all the other possible choices.” (Lawson, 2021). We’ve moved from “sarcasm”, to “decide”, to “choice”, to “certainty”, all involving a tearing, a cutting. And, in thinking about Nietzsche’s quote above, might we ask: is there a misunderstanding between choice and certainty?


Does choice lead to certainty or more choice?




References


Lawson, A. (2021). CHOICES. THE ETYMOLOGY NERD. http://www.etymologynerd.com/1/post/2018/02/choices.html

Nietzsche, F. (1995). Thus spoke zarathustra (W. Kaufmann, Trans.). The Modern Library.

Sarcasm. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sarcasm&oldid=1038820226