Doubt vs. Determination: Striking the Right Balance
By Richard Golian15 October 2023
Is it better to doubt or to act with determination?
I extend my respect to the moderates and the curious minds amongst us – those who relentlessly seek understanding, whether in the realm of human interactions or in the pursuit of unravelling nature's mysteries. I admire thinkers like Cicero and Erasmus, champions of moderation in an age of emotional beliefs. I would rather listen to a moderate person who tends to doubt than a fanatic. A fanatic seldom tries to understand more deeply; he believes.
However, we must also recognize the significance of those who hold strong beliefs and are determined to act on them. They can change their lives and the world for the better in this way. They wield the power to influence (positively) individuals and entire crowds.
An argument for doubt
This part is a continuation of the post: How I became a child again. I describe there how I began to doubt some things during my university studies.
Challenging erroneous ideas through scepticism brings us closer to true knowledge than any other approach I've encountered thus far. That's why I hold these principles dear:
- No theory can be definitively confirmed; it can only be definitively disproven.
- Let us evaluate theories based on the possibilities they offer for refutation.
- Information is always understood within a context; it's an interpretation.
- Thinking is hampered by both unyielding conviction and belief and by the dogma of relativism.
- I doubt, but I do not relativize.
An argument for determination
However, rigid thinking and an insatiable desire for deeper understanding can sometimes dampen the zeal for decisive action. They can erode motivation. I see it in some who studied with me and sometimes in myself.
In everyday life, conviction paired with determination is an invaluable asset. I do not pass judgment on either thing; there are times when reflection serves us well and other moments when unwavering determination is needed.
Today, when I have to choose those with whom I act, I choose determined ones.
I listen carefully to the moderate and reflective, but I act with those with whom we agree on a common goal and are determined to achieve it.