Top Ambiguity Quotes

Browse top 98 famous quotes and sayings about Ambiguity by most favorite authors.

Favorite Ambiguity Quotes

1. "The aspirations of democracy are based on the notion of an informed citizenry, capable of making wise decisions. The choices we are asked to make become increasingly complex. They require the longer-term thinking and greater tolerance for ambiguity that science fosters. The new economy is predicated on a continuous pipeline of scientific and technological innovation. It can not exist without workers and consumers who are mathematically and scientifically literate."
Author: Ann Druyan
2. "The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise."
Author: Brennan Manning
3. "It stung this new rejection, but it was also a relief to put an end to the ambiguity and incertitude. I had been deceiving myself the day I decided I could master the art of detachment, or maybe the mistake was to allow things to go on in that vein for as long as they had."
Author: Catherine Sanderson
4. "It may be enough to study history in all its nuance and ambiguity for its own sake. But there is no country free of the need to find new ways of reading the past as an inspiring way of thinking about everything else, including the present."
Author: Colm Toibin
5. "But at times words can be a dangerous addition to music — they can pin it down. Words imply that the music is about what the words say, literally, and nothing more. If done poorly, they can destroy the pleasant ambiguity that constitutes much of the reason we love music. That ambiguity allows listeners to psychologically tailor a song to suit their needs, sensibilities, and situations, but words can limit that, too. There are plenty of beautiful tracks that I can't listen to because they've been "ruined" by bad words — my own and others. In Beyonce's song "Irreplaceable," she rhymes "minute" with "minute," and I cringe every time I hear it (partly because by that point I'm singing along). On my own song "Astronaut," I wrap up with the line "feel like I'm an astronaut," which seems like the dumbest metaphor for alienation ever. Ugh."
Author: David Byrne
6. "Just as God's love entered the world, thereby submitting to the misunderstanding and ambiguity that characterize everything worldly, so also Christian love does not exist anywhere but in the worldly, in an infinite variety of concrete worldly action, and subject to misunderstanding and condemnation. Every attempt to portray a Christianity of 'pure' love purged of worldly 'impurities' is a false purism and perfectionism that scorns God's becoming human and falls prey to the fate of all ideologies. God was not too pure to enter the world."
Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
7. "Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, of hope: death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram. Think of the tragedies that are rooted in ambiguity, and be clear! When you say something, make sure you have said it. The chances of your having said it are only fair."
Author: E.B. White
8. "The whole of the Targum deserves study as shewing how textual ambiguity or corruption may combine with doctrinal prepossession to modify tradition;Chapter II, Section 2, Paragraph 1171"
Author: Edwin A. Abbott
9. "You will find ambiguity a great ally on your road to power. Give a sign of Slytherin on one day, and contradict it with a sign of Gryffindor the next; and the Slytherins will be enabled to believe what they wish, while the Gryffindors argue themselves into supporting you as well. So long as there is uncertainty, people can believe whatever seems to be to their own advantage. And so long as you appear strong, so long as you appear to be winning, their instincts will tell them that their advantage lies with you. Walk always in the shadow, and light and darkness both will follow."
Author: Eliezer Yudkowsky
10. "The truth always carries the ambiguity of the words used to express it."
Author: Frank Herbert
11. "Dread was always with her, an alarm system in her head, alertto her next disaster.Despite being resigned to a life of misfortune, she becameresourceful.She grudgingly noticed that things always worked out, evenwhen she claimed defeat.An inconvenient truth, yet it was right there, in her face,betraying her self-punishments and assumptions.She kept overcoming things, dammit, aggravating herself.She still felt so much joy, despite her efforts to be miserable.Her life was full of miracles and spectacles that she was afraidto rely on so she didn't know how to enjoy, how to be thankful,without guilt.She didn't want to win and she didn't want to lose.Ambiguity intrigued her and she found passion in the gapsbetween hope and despair."
Author: G.G. Renee Hill
12. "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.Delicious Ambiguity."
Author: Gilda Radner
13. "To believe that will has power over potentiality, that the passage to actuality is the result of a decision that puts an end to the ambiguity of potentiality (which is always potentiality to do and not to do) — this is the perpetual illusion of morality."
Author: Giorgio Agamben
14. "Writing a really general parser is a major but different undertaking, by far the hardest points being sensitivity to context and resolution of ambiguity."
Author: Graham Nelson
15. "But the recurrent ambiguity of the American tale of the supernatural reveals both a fascination with the possibility of numinous experience and a perplexity about whether there was, in fact, anything numinous to be experienced. Writers often delighted in leading readers into, but not out of, the haunted dusk of the borderland."
Author: Howard Kerr
16. "For I am—or I was—one of those people who pride themselves in on their willpower, on their ability to make a decision and carry it through. This virtue, like most virtues, is ambiguity itself. People who believe that they are strong-willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialists in self-deception. Their decisions are not really decisions at all—a real decision makes one humble, one knows that it is at the mercy of more things than can be named—but elaborate systems of evasion, of illusion, designed to make themselves and the world appear to be what they and the world are not. This is certainly what my decision, made so long ago in Joey's bed, came to. I had decided to allow no room in the universe for something which shamed and frightened me. I succeeded very well—by not looking at the universe, by not looking at myself, by remaining, in effect, in constant motion."
Author: James Baldwin
17. "This false distance is present everywhere: in spy films, in Godard, in modern advertising, which uses it continually as a cultural allusion. It is not really clear in the end whether this 'cool' smile is the smile of humour or that of commercial complicity. This is also the case with pop, and its smile ultimately encapsulates all its ambiguity: it is not the smile of critical distance, but the smile of collusion"
Author: Jean Baudrillard
18. "New people could be seen, by people like my grandfather, as indifferent to everything that had made California work, but the ambiguity was this: new people were also who were making California rich."
Author: Joan Didion
19. "He was more aware than is usually admitted of the Freudian implications in the novel, and the note of ambiguity could have insinuated itself at least as a partial effort to conceal the radical thesis and the problem of form. Since this is exactly what happens in Lady Chatterley's Lover, the hypothesis is not without possibilities."
Author: John E. Stoll
20. "In the context of Lawrence's rejection of the Freudian notion of incest and the close identification between author and character, Sons and Lovers becomes an exercise in deliberate ambiguity."
Author: John E. Stoll
21. "None of this excuses anyone from mastering the basic ideas and terminology of economics. The intelligent layman must expect also to encounter good economists who are difficult writers even though some of the best have been very good writers. He should know, moreover, that at least for a few great men ambiguity of expression has been a positive asset. But with these exceptions he may safely conclude that what is wholly mysterious in economics is not likely to be important."
Author: John Kenneth Galbraith
22. "Naturally, the reader has access only to the events I show and the way I show them, but as has been said, there's generally a good deal of ambiguity in that presentation."
Author: John M. Ford
23. "Abjection is above all ambiguity. Because, while releasing a hold, it does not radically cut off the subject from what threatens it --- on the contrary, abjection acknowledges it to be in perpetual danger."
Author: Julia Kristeva
24. "I look for ambiguity when I'm writing because life is ambiguous."
Author: Keith Richards
25. "If I take refuge in ambiguity, I assure you that it's quite conscious."
Author: Kingman Brewster Jr.
26. "He prizes ambiguity; he loves to keep you guessing."
Author: Lionel Shriver
27. "We emerge from our Cloud of Ambiguity when we are ready or willing to let go of what has held us back."
Author: Lisa A. Mininni
28. "We live in times that are in many ways ambiguous. Maybe that's why kids want precision in what they read - they don't like that moral ambiguity."
Author: Lois Lowry
29. "You know, people who almost - yeah, there's a slight reluctance there - but there's also an ambiguity. What are their morals? What is their code of living. What are they really doing here. And it is just interesting because it is never black or white."
Author: Matt Robinson
30. "It is no more natural and no less conventional to shout in anger or to kiss in love than to call a table 'a table'. Feelings and passional conduct are invented like words. Even those which like paternity seem to be part and parcel of the human make-up are in reality institutions. It is impossible to superimpose on man a lower layer of behavior which one chooses to call 'natural' followed by a manufactured cultural or spiritual world. Everything is both manufactured and natural in man as it were in the sense that there is not a word, not a form of behavior which does not owe something to purely biological being and which at the same time does not elude the simplicity of animal life and cause forms of vital behavior to deviate from their pre-ordained direction through a sort of leakage and through a genius for ambiguity which might serve to define man."
Author: Maurice Merleau Ponty
31. "Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of material and personal costs - these are raised to the optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration."
Author: Max Weber
32. "...Spinoza's Conjecture:"Belief comes quickly and naturally, skepticism is slow and unnatural, and most people have a low tolerance for ambiguity.The scientific principle that a claim is untrue unless proven otherwise runs counter to our natural tendency to accept as true that which we can comprehend quickly. Thus it is that we should reward skepticism and disbelief, and champion those willing to change their mind in the teeth of new evidence. Instead, most social institutions-most notably those in religion, politics, and economics-reward belief in the doctrines of the faith or party or ideology, punish those who challenge the authority of the leaders, and discourage uncertainty and especially skepticism."
Author: Michael Shermer
33. "These include the beliefs that the primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency; that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment; that in fact human judgment cannot be trusted, because it is plagued by laxity, ambiguity, and unnecessary complexity; that subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking; that what cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value; and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts."
Author: Neil Postman
34. "To accpet the world as boring or accpet oneself as boring? Which is really more agreeable? There's bound to be some amount of ambiguity and uncertainty."
Author: NisiOisiN
35. "In the end nothing matters but the work. You can't control how it's taken, and the act of telling a story always involves a gap. Sometimes confusion is the risk of ambiguity–I say that to students all the time. It's true at the fireside and it's true in the parlor, and it's true in made-up towns and New York. Two humans face one another, words come out of one, words go into the other mind through the ears and eyes of the listener. It's a story. It's simple. The gap is the thing. Make sure you build the bridge."
Author: Patrick Somerville
36. "I would browse for half an hour or so in the secondhand bookstores in the neighborhood. Owning my own 'library' was my only materialistic ambition; in fact, trying to decide which two of these thousands of books to buy that week, I would frequently get so excited that by the time the purchase was accomplished I had to make use of the bookseller's toilet facilities. I don't believe that either microbe or laxative has ever affected me so strongly as the discovery that I was all at once the owner of a slightly soiled copy of Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity in the original English edition."
Author: Philip Roth
37. "The word "brotherhood" is, to be sure, a fine word, but we oughtn't to forget its ambiguity. The first pair of brothers in the history of the world were, according to the Bible, Cain and Abel, and the one murdered the other."
Author: Pope Benedict XVI
38. "Real mystery - the very reason to read (and certainly write) any book - was to them a thing to dismantle, distill and mine out into rubble they could tyrannize into sorry but more permanent explanations; monuments to themselves, in other words. In my view all teachers should be required to stop teaching at age thirty-two and not allowed to resume until they're sixty-five, so that they can live their lives, not teach them away - live lives full of ambiguity and transience and regret and wonder, be asked to explain nothing in public until very near the end when they can't do anything else. Explaining is where we all get into trouble."
Author: Richard Ford
39. "In the ambiguity and shifting playing field of adult life, I often wish I could just fill in a dot and have someone say "Yes" and hand me a chicken leg, or "No" and slap me with an old fish."
Author: Rob Delaney
40. "All games have morals; and the game of Snakes and Ladders captures, as no other activity can hope to do, the eternal truth that for every ladder you climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner; and for every snake, a ladder will compensate. But it's more than that; no mere carrot-and-stick affair; because implicit in the game is the unchanging twoness of things, the duality of up against down, good against evil; the solid rationality of ladders balances the occult sinuosities of the serpent; in the opposition of staircase and cobra we can see, metaphorically, all conceivable oppositions, Alpha against Omega, father against mother; here is the war of Mary and Musa, and the polarities of knees and nose ... but I found, very early in my life, that the game lacked one crucial dimension, that of ambiguity - because, as events are about to show, it is also possible to slither down a ladder and climb to triumph on the venom of a snake ..."
Author: Salman Rushdie
41. "As infants, we see the world in parts. There is the good—the things that feed and nourish us. There is the bad—the things that frustrate or deny us. As children mature, they come to see the world in more complex ways, realizing, for example, that beyond black and white, there are shades of gray. The same mother who feeds us may sometimes have no milk. Over time, we transform a collection of parts into a comprehension of wholes.4 With this integration, we learn to tolerate disappointment and ambiguity. And we learn that to sustain realistic relationships, one must accept others in their complexity. When we imagine a robot as a true companion, there is no need to do any of this work."
Author: Sherry Turkle
42. "Man must not attempt to dispel the ambiguity of his being but, on the contrary, accept the task of realizing it."
Author: Simone De Beauvoir
43. "The Butcher Boy is a very great novel indeed and a very important Irish novel. The ambiguity of that is, he's writing a book about an appalling situation and he does it in a hilarious way."
Author: Stephen Rea
44. "Meaning lies in the confrontation of contradiction - the coincidencia apositorum. That's what we really feel, not these rational schemes that are constantly beating us over the head with the "thou shalts" and "thou should", but rather a recovery of the real ambiguity of being and an ability to see ourselves as at once powerful and weak, noble and ignoble, future-oriented, past-facing."
Author: Terence McKenna
45. "The Light of humane minds is Perspicuous Words, but by exact definitions first snuffed, and purged from ambiguity; Reason is the pace; Encrease of Science, the way; and the Benefit of man-kind, the end. And on the contrary, Metaphors, and senslesse and ambiguous words, are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them, is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities; and their end, contention, and sedition, or contempt."
Author: Thomas Hobbes
46. "Mitchell Sanders was right. For the common soldier, at least, war has the feel-the spiritual texture-of a great ghostly fog, thick and permanent. There is no clarity. Everything swirls. The old rules are no longer binding, the old truths no longer true. Right spills over into wrong. Order blends into chaos, love into hate, ugliness into beauty, law into anarchy, civility into savagery. The vapors suck you in. You can't tell where you are, or why you're there, and the only certainty is overwhelming ambiguity."
Author: Tim O'Brien
47. "God speaks, spirits speak, computer speak. Oracular ambiguity or statistical probability provides loopholes, and discrepancies are expunged by Faith."
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
48. "I'm a participant in the doctrine of constructive ambiguity."
Author: Vernon A. Walters
49. "And here it would seem from some ambiguity in her terms that she was censuring both sexes equally, as if she belonged to neither; and indeed, for the time being she seemed to vacillate; she was man; she was woman; she knew the secrets, shared the weaknesses of each. It was a most bewildering and whirligig state of mind to be in. The comforts of ignorance seemed utterly denied her. She was a feather blown on the gale. Thus it is no great wonder if, as she pitted one sex against the other, and found each alternately full of the most deplorable infirmities, and was not sure to which she belonged…."
Author: Virginia Woolf
50. "Great art projects a sense of inexhaustibility. In literature, particularly in poetry, this may be accomplished through ambiguity: Beneath each and every meaning that I can descry lie others, so that rereading holds out the prospect of new subtleties, inversions, secret codes and ineffabilities"
Author: William T. Vollmann

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The griefs that have been hardest for me were the ones I didn't recognize as griefs, because they came in what were supposed to be the best times of my life. No one whispered in my ear that the best times, the ones that change our lives, are woven with the thread of loss."
Author: Anna White

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