Doubt Is The Key To Knowledge

Knowing anything can be risky. So much of what we see is influenced by the agendas of others, some of whom do not have our best interests at heart. In this light, it is important to look at whether certainty or doubt can bring us to a more secure grasp on our knowledge.

On the importance of certainty

There is a push towards a very homogenized way of thinking in modern culture. In just a few decades, fashion trends can reverse themselves completely so that what was once worn with pride can make one the laughingstock. Worse yet, these trends also exist regarding physical appearance. Woman were encouraged to be voluptuous then boyish then athletic and then resembling drug addicts all over the course of a single lifetime. Without some certainty these and other trends can seem like good ideas to live one’s life by. They extend also into concepts of morality. At one point in time, it was normal for human beings to own one another and a man could discipline his wife with physical violence. Any human being who hopes to not get swept away in the sea of disturbing trends needs to have certainty about what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable.

On the need for doubt

Even while certainty is important in many ways, it is important to be ready to test one’s beliefs at any point. At least a tiny bit of doubt must remain in order to be willing to accept new information that may contradict our long held beliefs. Imagine for a moment that you are a member of a society in which the sun is believed to be a very small ball that circles the earth. All of your evidence seems to point to this being true. If you eliminate all doubt from yourself, you will be unable to accept new information from someone who has presented you with carefully researched evidence. Similarly, if you were raised to believe that people who were different from you represent a menace to society, only by having a little bit of doubt can you eventually correct that belief.

It may not seem like it at first, but maintaining the right balance of doubt and certainty is the key to having any level of knowledge that you can depend on. Be certain about the things that are unchangeable and be ready to doubt everything else.

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