Certainty vs. Doubt

2 February 2017

I believe the dispute between the two virtues, certainty and doubt, is very controversial. Despite the clear sides that people have fixed themselves to, there are pros and cons to both. A person’s doubt can cloud their judgment. Yet it can also aid them in making the better decision, by questioning and eliminating the inferior options. On the other hand, a person’s certainty can blind them from seeing the truth. Regardless of these cons, both are necessary in the everyday choices of life.

Isaiah Stock, an APLAC student at University of North Carolina, said, “Think of certainty and doubt as parts of an automobile. Certainty is considered to be the accelerator, while doubt is the steering wheel. You can get nowhere without driving –certainty—but without steering through the impediments in your way, you will surely crash and burn. ” I consider this to be a very acceptable metaphor of the balanced relationship between certainty and doubt.

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An excess of either, on the other hand, is detrimental to one’s wellbeing. I t is necessary to balance certainty and doubt in order to accomplish all of one’s life goals.

But I believe that, because doubt is so highly misconstrued, doubt is more necessary in the process of making decisions. Doubt is often viewed as a negative idea in our modern society, but in reality is very beneficially, when used correctly. It is not completely contradictive of certainty, but more somewhere in between the two. The World English Dictionary’s definition of doubt is “a lack of belief or conviction about something. ” We should accept the fact that doubt is a part of us, as a human race, because it is part of our nature.

We are curious from birth, and to question anything and everything that we want to know more about is perfectly acceptable. I feel that it’s more in the levels of doubt that we use, that we should start to feel worried. Take building a house of cards, for example. Every card we add brings the risk of sending the whole tower tumbling over, but that is a risk we have to take, in order to achieve our goal. “I will doubt everything that can possibly be doubted, and if anything is left, then it will be absolutely certain… Then I will consider what it is about this certainty that places it beyond doubt. (Descartes).

Descartes, in my opinion, is yet another, if not extreme, example of the beneficial effects of doubt. He believed that man should not believe in anything that the smallest reason to doubt. In other words, anything that we believed to be true was untrue, until proven undeniable. His theory, dubbed the Doubt Theory, stated that everything we believe is true comes from our senses, which Descartes believed to be both unreliable and untrustworthy. So he claimed we should doubt everything because of this.

In this way, I believe that there will be more qualified and non- defective results. In conclusion, doubt should be viewed as a virtuous idea. Of course, we must use it with caution and wisdom, so as not to abuse one of the many things we have been blessed with, as human beings. As is the case with most matters, we must be careful to balance out our doubt and certainty. Doing this will aid in the betterment of our human nature, and once we learn how to balance the two together, we will be closer to the quintessential being of which we wish to be.

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