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“Doubt is the key to knowledge” to what extent is this true

Updated on October 16, 2012

Doubting something or being in doubt can mean a variety of things. Firstly it means that you are uncertain or unsure of something that is about to happen or that you are about to do. Secondly it means that you don’t possess the knowledge about a certain topic and you are in doubt about something or you possess too much knowledge and you think that something is wrong and you want to fix it. Well, in order to understand the sentence I just said I will have to present you a few examples. “I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am” (Rene Descartes). If we believe Rene then doubt really is the key to knowledge. Doubt can push us to go further and explore uncertainties. However, doubt can also stop you from going forward.

In mathematics for example doubt was a powerful weapon. Those who doubted in the end came up with solutions that were more universal than the previous one. For ex. there is Newton's theory of mechanics. It is a well-defined theory and it has been proven to work in the specific area where it has been defined. However it does not apply entirely to the subject that it describes. It doesn’t fully explain the behavior of atoms and molecules. Therefore a new theory has been developed- Quantum mechanics. This theory better explains the behavior of atoms and molecules and is therefore more universal. This is the good side of having doubts. Having doubts about whether or not something is true.

Like in mathematics, in natural sciences Doubt has been a very important factor. Just imagine if people wouldn’t doubt. Then we would believe anything is true. A world in which everything is true would be chaotic. We would probably still be in the ancient times. Without doubt people wouldn’t evolve. We would still believe that the Sun is a god and when the god is angry the weather is very hot for months and things like that. However this is not the case. Out of all the creatures on earth only we, humans, have been granted the ability of reason and because we are reasonable we doubt. Just look at other animals. If we didn’t have reason, we would be just like other animals. We would have to adapt to our surrounding, to the conditions that are put before us. We wouldn’t know anything, we would just follow are basic instinct to survive. This is what makes us different form all other life on earth. “I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am” (Rene Descartes). Again I refer to this quote because it perfectly describes the things mentioned above. Without doubt we simply wouldn’t evolve, we wouldn’t gain any knowledge.

Doubt is present in our entire life. You probably doubt every day. I for ex. train parkour. It is also called free running. This sport involves jumping from buildings, doing all crazy stunts and things like that. Since I’ve started doing this I’ve had millions of doubts. When I’m about to perform a backflip or some other stunt I always have these doubts. Will I make it? Will I hurt myself? In the beginning this was like a “brake” for me. It stopped me from doing things and exploring my limits. And this is the bad side of doubt. It can prevent people from going forward.

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