General Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Poincare said: “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” Which way do you lean and why?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38946points) May 21st, 2009

I always thought that to doubt everything is better

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24 Answers

wildpotato's avatar

My inclinations lie with yours, but it seems as though what Poincare was getting at is that to give in to either sensibility is to take the easy way out.

Loried2008's avatar

That’s what I got from it, I mean you should believe some things that you once doubted eventually.

If you’re always doubting everything you never learn to believe anything and if you always believe in everything and never doubt anything you could get hurt or screwed over.

BALANCE is key.

Aethelwine's avatar

I’d like to doubt everything, unfortunately I am very gullible.

tinyfaery's avatar

I believe in everything and in nothing.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Those sound like two extreme choices. I’m very much in the middle ground.

lillycoyote's avatar

I try to be a reasonable, rational person but intellectually, I believe absolute certainty is the be death of the mind, so I will very rarely say, or believe something just isn’t so, it can’t be and it isn’t. But refusing to be absolutely certain sometimes appears to others as irrationality… to be willing to say well, it could be, who can know for sure? I don’t believe anything merely because someone tells me it’s so and I don’t refuse to believe something merely because someone tells me it isn’t so. Doubt and skepticism is a two way street and I don’t let others define it for me. I try to weigh the evidence, learn, explore, keep an open and curious mind, think critically and rationally, ... but one thing I’m pretty sure about is that in an infinite and infinitely complex universe there are things, phenomena afoot and at play that we have yet to even dream about, let alone understand and absolute certainty shuts that door for me. I want to go through that door.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I understand that both are extremes but it’s a lot harder, in my opinion, to believe everything than to doubt everything

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I tend to be sceptical of most things. Something is in a state of neutrality, being possibly wrong and possibly right, until I get a chance to examine it. As I gather evidence and theories one way or another, the probabilities of the concept being true or false shift, and so does my opinion. Absolute certainty is dangerous, as it leads one to reject further evidence or discussion on the matter. As far I am concerned, something is either “probably right”, “probably wrong”, “undetermined” or “unable to be determined with current information”.

lillycoyote's avatar

Choosing one over the other isn’t particularly rational. Not everything is true. Not everything is false. How would it be rational to choose one over the other?

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t see how doubting everything dispenses with the need for reflection. Doubt does not equal lack of knowledge, or lack of relative certainty.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@lillycoyote not choose
just wanted to know where people lean

lillycoyote's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Then I will say that I lean toward reflection. :)

lillycoyote's avatar

@daloon I think the quote is referring to extremes on either end. Doubting everything or believing everything. I’m not sure if very many people at all fall into the range of either extreme. And I think by definition, doubt does equal a lack of relative certainty.

Judi's avatar

I’m no scholar so I never heard the quote, but I tend to err on the side of doubt, especially if the masses tend to be going along.

BookReader's avatar

…i believe in eternity…as such, i believe in and also doubt everything and i believe in and also doubt nothing…i embrace existentialism and it’s compliment- like marriage embraces multiples as one…the process required deep contemplation, then an emptying of the mind allowing universal intelligence to fill it, finally deep contemplation to exit that state of consciousness…

YARNLADY's avatar

It never occured to me to learn that way. I’ve always been curious about everything, and when I see or hear something I don’t understand, it’s not a case of doubting or believing, I just wonder. That has always worked for me. I don’t believe in making up my mind about things until I know more.

augustlan's avatar

I tend to believe in people, but to doubt what they say. I mean, I assume an individual’s intentions are good until proven otherwise but that doesn’t mean I’ll believe any old thing they tell me.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I am skeptical and do my research and lean towards that. I feel like it is necessary especially in this world filled with bias and media and just everything that rots our brains ;)
However there are some cultural and spiritual beliefs that I have questioned but also lean more towards pure belief. I believe that some things really do deserve “faith” (for lack of a better word).

One reason I love fluther is because it allows me to be skeptical and discuss those skepticisms with others. And also to be able to better articulate my belief systems.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Leaning to the doubting side here. I have to watch, pick shite apart and put it back together again to feel secure in believing which is good for a lot of things not people.

wildpotato's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh: I don’t think it is realistically possible to delineate categories of determinacy quite so clearly because the distinction between the conceptual and the empirical is not fixed. What we call our intuitions are often no more than the ways we come to believe we ought to speak about things. It’s not just that to assume or demand certainty is mistaken, but to think that there is a measure of certainty “out there” to begin with – to assume a ground for truth (a qualification of truth as truth) – is to buy into a type of foundationalism that has been prevalent in science and philosophy since Aristotle (I paraphrase Rorty). So it is important to keep in mind that truth-valuation is only one of any number of ways to describe the way one lives as a doubting and believing creature.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@wildpotato You are right, I was talking about things with which it is possible to be relatively certain. There are many grey areas which do not fall into categories. But then doubt and belief apply mainly to the things with which it is possible to be relatively certain. Doubt and belief largely refer to empirical facts, and this is what I was addressing.

oratio's avatar

I don’t find doubting and being skeptic the same. Doubt tells you it’s more improbable than probable. Skepticism that it might be true, or true in part and you want to consider and confirm it before accepting it fully.

To doubt everything seems very negative and not so productive.

CMaz's avatar

How does the saying go? Believe none of what you hear, and half of what you see. Besides, don’t we tend to learn from our mistakes.

bea2345's avatar

Occasional skepticism is healthy, and belief should be tempered with common sense.

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