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Doubt is the Key to Knowledge

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"Doubt is the key to knowledge", states a Persian Proverb. A seeker of knowledge must have a balanced amount of doubt in order to come to reasonable conclusion. Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty, which often leads to questioning. Skepticism is popularly used with doubt in the search for knowledge. With too little skepticism a person is seen as not only gullible, but perhaps also as stupid. Moreover, reliable knowledge becomes much harder to obtain. On the other hand, too much doubt can make the individual seem stubborn. This rejects the possibility of gaining any new knowledge. In most Areas of Knowledge a larger amount of skepticism is the key to knowledge. Arts require skepticism to gain personal knowledge, whereas the Sciences demand doubt in order to answer important questions. There are advantages and disadvantages of different levels of skepticism, but in most situations larger amounts of doubt are effective in the search for knowledge. The arts are an Area of Knowledge in which a fair proportion of skepticism is necessary. Arts are unique as they use a great deal of emotion as a Way of Knowing. Emotion tends to alter the way each and every person perceives something. ...read more.


Whether this is because we do not want to believe the discoveries, or simply because the new information is difficult to understand, one thing is common: we are seeking knowledge. This knowledge roots from the doubt that we so naturally radiate. All scientific method starts with one thing: a question. This question's purpose is to gain knowledge. But, what gives rise to these questions? Doubt. Pharmaceutical drugs require doubt in order to obtain the knowledge desired. When visiting the drugstore to purchase protein powder I consulted a worker for advice. Immediately he picked up a pricy container that he claimed was "the best". But what made it the best, and at what cost to my body? I doubted the salesperson for a variety of reasons (including his shady appearance), but my main reason for skepticism was for the benefit of my body. The knowledge necessary to purchase this "scientifically proven drug enhanced product" could only be reached with a steady amount of doubt. Plato summarizes my experience when he said: "a good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers."1 Although the salesperson was throwing all sorts of statistics at me, I wanted to make the right decision. ...read more.


On the other hand, doubting too little will lead to the emergence of uncertain and unreliable knowledge as no questions have been asked. With the Arts, too much doubt will lead to an ignorance of the artwork and no personal gain from the viewer. Too little doubt creates an unreliable opinion and as a result little personal knowledge will be gained. Although these two Areas of Knowledge differ in many areas, a steady amount of doubt is always required in the search for knowledge. Levels of doubt used are important to gain knowledge. These different levels are gauged uniquely for each of the Areas of Knowledge. Some require very little skepticism whereas some others like the Sciences require a considerable more. No matter how little doubt is used, it is always present in each of the Areas of Knowledge. When using doubt in conjunction with the Arts, emotions are altered to reach a justified self-knowledge. The Sciences use doubt particularly effectively in order to answer important questions, thus gaining knowledge. So, the Persian Proverb of: "doubt is the key to knowledge" holds true to a large extent. The Philosopher Will Durant summarizes this argument in an effective way: "Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt - particularly to doubt one's cherished beliefs, one's dogmas and one's axioms. ...read more.

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