I want to offer a defense of doubt. Far from an ailment, I would suggest that doubt is a virtue. I do not intend this response to be any sort of direct critique of MV’s post. The concerns she raises about doubt are legitimate, but she underdetermines the role doubt plays in life.
“Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.” -Jack Handey
Doubt moderates credulity and mitigates gullibility.
“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” -Voltaire
Doubt permits us to question. It humbles.
“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. ” -Robert M. Persig
Doubt troubles. It is a source of vitality.
“The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.” -Rollo May
Doubt solidifies commitment.
“The problem with certainty is that it is static; it can do little but endlessly reassert itself. Uncertainty, by contrast, is full of unknowns, possibilities, and risks.” -Stephen Batchelor
Doubt opens new possibilities. It suggests a new path.
“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.” -William Goldman
And, yes, doubt hinders. Doubt halts. Doubt kills opportunity.
Like many virtues, doubt must be balanced. It must be kept in check. But we would suffer if we rid ourselves of it completely.
Nietzsche called doubt the beautiful luxury of a strong faith. By this, I think he meant that, as certainty is neared, one is permitted to doubt. Questioning, revisiting, and exploring, therefore, become possible again.
My best attempt at an aphorism for doubt: Doubt is the enemy of beginnings and the friend of ends.
*MV is short for MommyVerbs, the nom de plume of the eponymous blog’s author. Congrats on being freshly pressed.