Uncertainty, defined as the indeterminacy of the future, is almost universally experienced as a major problem among philosophers as well as among businessmen and politicians who wish, in the famous words of Descartes, a philosopher, “render ourselves the lords and possessors of nature.” But it has not always been so. Renaissance humanism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had a very different attitude, embracing the complexity, diversity and chaos of the world with interest. Yet, everything changed in the seventeenth century, when humanism gave way to rationalism. Why? The answer to this question is provided by the work of the philosopher Stephen Toulmin.
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