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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a term used in probability theory, logic, epistemology, and law (theory of legal proof). In philosophical and logical-methodological investigations it is most frequently used to characterize knowledge that is valid, conclusive, or indisputable and also as a synonym for truth. In experimental natural science the term “certainty” frequently designates events and judgments that are regarded as empirically confirmed by special experiments or, more broadly, by the social and productive practice of men.

The term acquires a somewhat specialized meaning in probability theory. In so-called subjective, or personal, probability, certainty is most frequently interpreted as a concept reflecting the subject’s confidence in the correctness of his evaluation of the probability that a particular event will occur. From this point of view certainty also expresses the extent of a given individual’s knowledge about the conditions and factors contributing to or counteracting the occurrence of events. In this sense, with the exception of extremely idealized or oversimplified cases, certainty includes a considerable element of uncertainty, inasmuch as exhaustive knowledge about such conditions and factors is practically unobtainable.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
That physical objects exist is one of the certainties which "constitute what we mean by reality" (Le Roy Finch, 1977, p.
In fact, beliefs and certainties are shown in the spontaneity with which we use language and carry out the most basic actions.
According to GC, conditionalization applies only when the set of certainties between times j and k increases.
On May 8, men who helped stub out Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich would take over Nuremberg's stage as victors, with certainties and answers of their own: They were certain they were going home, where they planned to answer Yes!
I began this very informal little talk, by remarking that there are things above opinion and that the first thing we must do when we think of our duties in the shaping of our opinions is to have the deepest regard for those things that are above opinion, such as revealed propositions, those obscure propositions that are guaranteed by the best of all witnesses, the Divine Witness, the Word of God, or natural certainties, concerning for instance murder, assassination, and a few other moral topics.
And if the old certainties are fireproof against a changing world, what of the new certainties?
For the purposes of this Bible study, let me tell you of one of my certainties. It is that the church as the locally gathered community of believers does not have just the opportunity or even the responsibility but the duty of discerning the mind of Christ in their understanding and practice of faith.
The problem is that belief often hardens into dogma and false certainties, while doubt can dissolve into confusion and anxiety.
His main problems stemmed from seeking to proclaim a faith to meet the demands of an indeterminate future rather than acting as palace guard for perceived traditional certainties. He was aware that a paradox exists in that, "...
Many of my generation have experienced pain and sorrow as the ideas and certainties we grew up with have been criticized or debunked.
Occasionally, ideas that seem open to challenge are similarly certainties. "The propagation of Christianity to justify seizure of territory and wealth is the mainspring of early modern imperialism" (297), for example (later a "struggle" is also a mainspring [309]).
(Not that any of these philosophers except for James, Dewey, and possibly Quine would have considered themselves pragmatists; but Rorty shows the pragmatist implications of their work.) The common thread of this tradition is the attempt to cure us of our thirst for metaphysical essences and timeless certainties, to show how the secular fascination with the possibility of ahistorical absolutes simply repeats the religious quest for theological sanctuary.