If I know, then I don’t need to listen
“In our risky society, you have to be sure about things to be heard. You need to issue out confident proclamations: ‘Research shows that serotonin deficiency in the brain is the cause of depression’; ‘We now finally have a diagnostic system that deals with mental illness.
“Doubt is needed as an antidote to this. In essence, certainty is dogmatic, whereas doubt has an important ethical value. Certainty’s ‘I know’ can easily lead to blindness. Doubt on the other hand, leads to openness, to other ways of acting and new understandings of the world.
“However if I am in doubt, then other people’s perspectives are endowed with greater meaning. The problem with this is that, in an accelerating culture, this approach is slow and harks back to history, which isn’t deemed to be as relevant to right now. From primary school to university, we learn to ‘know’, but we also need to learn to doubt.” ~ Svend Brinkmann.
From: Standing Firm: Resisting The Self Improvement Craze by Svend Brinkmann
Svend Brinkmann is a Danish Professor of Psychology in the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University, Denmark. He serves as a co-director of the Centre for Qualitative Studies. He is the author of ‘The Joy of Missing Out’ and ‘Stand Firm.’
3 thoughts on “Comforting Thought: Doubt is a virtue, certainty is blinkered tunnel vision”
Doubt and certainty, that reminds me of a piece I read about looking for meteorites in the Antarctic. https://harpers.org/archive/2019/01/polar-light-antartica-meteorite-graves-nunataks/ It’s a great read, here’s a snippet:
The belief that one can reach a state of certainty, about anything, acts as a goad for those who regard the anomalies that inevitably turn up in their data not as a caution but as an inconvenience. “I had a theology professor once,” I say to John, “who told us that religion was not about being certain but about living with uncertainty. It was about being comfortable with doubt, and maintaining the continuity of one’s reverence for a profound mystery.” I’m not sure John hears me. He is reclined on his sleeping bag with only his lower legs visible to me past a pile of gear. Perhaps he’s fallen asleep. It’s been a long day. “We gain deeper knowledge,” he finally responds. “But no guarantee that we’re any closer to wisdom.”
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That’s a beautiful insight thanks so much for sharing this. It’s so true isn’t it…we just need to keep being comfortable with doubt and uncertainty and the profound mystery of the universe. That’s a beautifully written article thanks for sharing it. Hope you are well 🤓😽 and thank you for reading 📚