When you do not know, you do not have knowledge therefore, you will not have any doubt because you do not know what you do not know. This quote claims that doubt increases when we have more knowledge. However, many could argue that doubt will increase even when we have a lack of knowledge. Others could say that doubt has no relation to knowledge. Considering these perspectives, I decided to question the relation between doubt, confidence and knowledge. This led me to ask the knowledge question: ” To what extent does the acquisition of knowledge weaken our conviction?” I will use this question to evaluate Goethe claims ”We know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases”. ”Confidence” can be interpreted differently depending in the WOKs used. It could be; the sense of being sure of something, or the confidence of knowing that something is right, or confidence in the approach rather than what you know. These definitions will be used on the essay to elaborate the different perspectives. When we believe and trust the WOKs, this leads us to have the confidence.
How much we know or don’t know may possibly come in a correlational relationship with scepticism in various real-life circumstances. As one gets older and obtains more knowledge, one naturally owns sceptical opinions of others’ knowledge claims, which might or might not be same as one’s knowledge because these are also connected to the personal experiences we lived. Such phenomena happen often and is just a part of human nature. This of course depends on the knowledge itself. When we talk more about something in science, we know that there is only one answer. So, we start doubting only to know something new, in order to get that, we do some research and over the time we learn so many new things, this will allow as to look at the things from many different perspectives. As such, in this essay, ”doubt” is interpreted as being curious and willing to explore more, and this is to acquire more knowledge. Hence, I will explore this title mainly in the areas of Natural and Human sciences.
Doubt gets us conscious and allows us to estimate the reliability of the knowledge source we are using. In the world of Science, this implies questioning things (endeavour to falsify). Every discovery starts with a point of doubt. We view and watch the world using the senses we have but we do not know if it is true.
Natural Sciences are a reliable body of human knowledge, exactly because it is based on experiments and evidence and it owns at its standard the scientific method. In order to examine the questions we have and drive to a conclusion, we obey a scientific method. First, we ask a question which is associated with the doubt we have and want to examine. Then we estimate the information and so we are led to improve a hypothesis. After that, we examine our hypothesis with the help of an experiment in order to confirm our doubt or not. In the end, we acknowledge what happened in the experiment and form a conclusion by either confirming our doubt or denying itFor example, when Avogadro introduced his famous momentarily hypothesis that at the same temperature and pressure, the equal volumes of gasses have the same numbers of molecules and performed the difference between atoms and molecules. This today seems to be fine. Nevertheless, his hypothesis was rejected by Dalton. the reason behind this is that he believed that atoms of the same kind cannot be connected. As it was believed that the like atoms would be opposed and only the, unlike atoms, would be attracted together, the oxygen molecule seemed impossible to exist. Even if Avogadro’s production was read, it looks not to have been recognized but ignored.
In the world of Science, we cannot be certain in our results because of many errors which can happen during our investigation. That’s why doubting is considered valid in science. Some errors in the application of the scientific method which may lead to a mysterious result of an experiment might exist (errors due to instrument, biases, etc). This would be confirmed by repeating the procedure of the experiment. Taking an example from my life is that while doing my IA, because of a mistake I followed in the method I used, my results were strange and wrong. So, in order to be more accurate and gain the results I expect, I had to repeat my experiment. This is associated with a theory that is temporary, which are theories that are received true until they are denied. Accordingly, doubt has so little to do with knowledge, it’s more probable for it to irritate knowledge rather than add to it.
Also, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he said that he found things that did not work. This supports the idea that with greater knowledge, we are not creating doubt, we are just demonstrating it and creating more confidence about the way it does not work.
On the other hand, it can be said the confidence has nothing to do with the increasing knowledge, since knowing something more does not indicate that you are confident. The different ways of knowing provide people with confidence but this confidence is not shaken by increasing the knowledge. Some people will still be confident about their opinion and their faith, even with an increase with other knowledge and perspectives, these cannot shake them believe because they have the confidence in it that they are right. Taking the creators of the scientific findings as an example, the society sometimes did not accept their finding and theories, but they completed with their research with a high level of confidence, despite of any other knowledge which want to reflect out what they are doing (To what extent do knowledge influence the confidence of the knower?).
The absolute facts do not exist in the human science, consequently, in this area, knowing little drives us to be more confident. For example, the theories of economics are built on the assumption where they say humans as profits maximisers and think rationally. Taking Adam Smith as an example and his theory of Moral Sentiments, where he says that ”Every man is first and principally recommended to his own care; and every man is certainly, in every respect, fitter and abler to take care of himself than if any other person”. Yet, since the human behaviour in the financial markets often are not explainable, this is oversimplified.
A valid theory should be established in reality. External reality is difficult: using the ways which are defined by the nature it has, it consistently influences us. Hence, we can discover its nature by using reasoning. the reality of humanity is that we are rational beings and conscious who do not have any natural knowledge of facts. From the way the reality can influence us, our senses can teach us. therefore, by using reasoning to find the best analysis of all the possible facts, we can have confidence in the knowledge we gain about reality.
So, without any internal contradictions, a rational mind should aim for an integration of all its knowledge. Still, the question is that if we can reach any explanation which allows us to find the truth? Knowledge authorities play a big role in this, as their theories have to be accepted by a number of people. Taking the Climate Change as an example, many people argue that there is nothing called climate change and the others believe on it just because it is made by an authority. This led me to ask what are the characteristics one needs to have in order to become an authority? And are there levels of certainty that expert knowers need to have?
In conclusion, the essay title indicates that with the lack of knowledge, we have more confidence and more doubt. Doubt is necessary for establishing and hence supporting the hypotheses into theories and theories into laws. But alone it cannot drive to a gain of new theories. For example, the theory of the black hole, it is not ready proven yet, while one of the theories we have now might be true as nobody can prove it. Also, we have more confidence when we have an evidence to the knowledge we know, so we accept things to be true if they are coherent and corresponded with the evidence that we have. Personally, I think that we do have the confidence in what we know when we know little, and increasing knowledge will make us question and therefore doubt what we know. This makes me think in more critical way and reconsider thinking of the knowledge I have, also it raised the awareness of the knowledge I am gaining every day, furthermore, it helps me to understand and realize many things which are happening around me, in so many areas of knowledge.