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Doubts and Certainties

3 April, 2006

John Keats (1795 – 1821) realised that a constant insistence on certainty can get in the way of higher achievement.

I had not … a disquisition, with Dilke on various subjects; … and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature …- I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason-Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

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