Au revoir

What do we say when we say "au revoir"? To say au revoir is to put one's hope upon the most uncertain thing: revoir, seeing again. Each time we say it could be the last. And we must know this. This future seeing-again is the source of uncertainty itself, all uncertainty there ever is. But it is also the source of certainty, almost all of it, all truth, all knowledge and all faith with respect to previous doubt or the very possibility of doubt. With respect to uncertainty about some past event or observation, the future seeing-again is the source of certainty: when in doubt about a previous event, the only time I can reach relative or perhaps final certainty is a future time. There are not many things of knowledge, or of belief, which a possible new observation could leave absolutely unshattered. This is a basic philosophical principle, to be sure. The cogito, ergo sum is a Cartesian relief with respect to this other principle. But there is also a cogito de l'adieu, shadowing each au revoir...

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