____________________________________“Doubt is the key to knowledge”
Blaise Pascal once said “To deny, to believe, and to doubt absolutely- this is for man what running is for a horse.” The famous physicist suggests that humankind is at times naturally inclined to respond in absolutes. Absoluteness defines human nature and the world in clear, black and white terms, providing axiomatic boundaries that structures to our lives. Although natural, absolute doubt may hinder our ability to acquire knowledge, or may build the structures of life on false foundations. There must be some middle ground where our level of doubt is a vital key to acquiring knowledge and progressing. This middle ground infers that there is room for more than only doubt as “the key” to knowledge. Perhaps another key is belief. In this essay, I will examine the Areas of Knowledge of the natural sciences and religion to determine the extent to which doubt is the key to knowledge and I will propose a complementary view that doubt may not be the only key.
Doubt is a fascinating cognitive concept. Sometimes it relates to an unexplainable emotional state, yet other times it exists due to an acknowledgement that the pieces of what is presented before us are not coherent. Thagard suggests that if coherence is maximized in any field, doubt does not exist. There is a complex algorithm that explains the level of acceptance of, for example, a scientific theory or a religion. If a Knower perceives a strong incoherence in a scientific theory or religion, then it may be rejected absolutely, however if only weak incoherence exists then a Knower may be open to either accepting or rejecting what is presented before them. An underlying assumption of this essay is that the extent to which knowledge can be gained from doubt will depend on the level of coherency.
The statement that ‘all acids react with bases to form a salt’ is an accepted one in the natural sciences. As with all scientific laws, this was...