On perpetual doubt as the basis of discovery

41vGBwZh0-L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_In college, I had the privilege of becoming an honors student in my department. Perhaps the greatest reward this offered was the opportunity to take a doctoral-level course. We studied Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America for four months.

My most affecting experience in that class was when I uttered the following sentence:

“I believe in doubt.”

It remains striking to this day because I was soon laughed and scoffed at. I was told, “You can’t believe in doubt!”

But you can; I know, because I do.

Here’s why: a quote in an old book called Morals and Dogma. It’s a tough read and a bit out there for most. But this quote is so important:

Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery. Knowledge is always imperfect … discovery multiplies doubt and doubt leads on to new discovery. The boast of science is not so much its manifested results, as its admitted imperfection and capacity of unlimited progress. The true religious philosophy of an imperfect being is not a system of creed, but, as Socrates thought, an infinite search or approximation. Finality is but another name for bewilderment or defeat.

We don’t know. And usually, the more we know, the more we feel like we don’t know.

As we get older, some of us get set in our ways. We grow prideful and start to say to ourselves, “I have amassed so much knowledge and experience, how could I not be right?”

But in reality, we probably got it wrong about a lot of things.

It’s absurd to think we’ve got the answers. The human race is so young, and the age of information has just begun.

So don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers yet; you probably never will, my friend.

And that’s okay because that uncertainty is how we progress.