Dr Binoy Barman
Whenever I use the phrase 'no doubt' anywhere in my discourse, I become suspicious of the proposition expressed thereof. The assertion of any absence of doubt in fact raises the very doubt. I cannot become certain of what is being said. My mind begins to question the validity of the statement which might have otherwise gone unchallenged. 'No doubt' renders the whole project of writing 'doubtful'.
In fact I like to doubt things, not for doubt sake, but for getting rid of doubt itself. I doubt the integrity of my own efforts and others to check whether they are all right or not. I doubt the usefulness of any subject to be taught and teaching method used in it. I doubt the excellence of any research work. I doubt the infallibility of the words of famous persons. I doubt the lofty mission of civilisation under the capitalist world order. I sometimes become doubtful of my living and meaning of life. All these are to take mind beyond doubt.
Doubt is significant philosophically. Philosopher René Descartes developed his theory of existence based on doubt. We can doubt everything but cannot doubt our own thinking. Since we think, we exist. “Cogito ergo sum.” There can be no doubt in it. Doubt is a sure means of proving the existence of any entity. If you want to prove something you have to doubt it first; doubt will lead you to the final truth through a process of 'undoubting'.
Doubt is important for the people living as citizens of a country or of the world. People of the third world have every right to be doubtful of the motives of the big states that extend their helping hands in the affairs of politics, economy and social uplift. They have the right to doubt the development campaign of the multilateral donor agencies, i.e. World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank. Is it really the panacea or just the Pandora's box that they offer in package? Every citizen preserves the right to doubt, for judging pros and cons of others' actions that affect their life.
Doubt is vital to the progress in science and technology. In science any theory can be doubted and challenged. In that case the theory will be put under rigorous investigation. If it can pass the test, it is proven as true; otherwise it is discarded or modified. That is why nothing is thought absolute in the arena of science. There is no place of obstinacy here. Claiming something true or valid without proof, keeping away from scrutiny, is out-and-out unscientific.
Doubting is, however, seen as a moral aberration in the area of divinity. Preachers say, don't doubt the existence of 'so and so'. If you doubt, you'll go to the dogs. But why are these holy people afraid of doubt if they are sure of the theories they preach? True things come out as true by virtue of their inner strength -- doubt cannot wipe them out. Truth is self-evident and self-proclaiming. Only untrue things disapprove doubt; the claim regarding their truth is an imposition -- it is never proven. One of the most serious objections against religion is that it steers clear of doubt by all means stopping the process of reasoning and scrutiny. It tries to keep people mum on the basic questions of life.
Doubting is often contrasted with believing. Believing is by far easier than doubting; hence majority of the population on earth pursue the path of believing and avoid doubting. Doubting puts one to the toiling task of proving. As a nation, the people of Bangladesh are easy believers. They as if live to believe. They close their eyes to make the objects in front of them non-existent, and open their eyes to witness the objects which only exist in imagination. To them, “bhaktitey mukti” (Adoration is salvation). They are reluctant to tread the way of argumentation and experimentation. They love to wallow in darkness.
Man is probably the only animal in nature whose mind is capable of doubting. The importance of doubting is immense in human life. Doubting gives them confidence in themselves, which is key to advancement in a solid manner. Doubting is questioning. The more one doubts the more one questions. And the more questions the more solutions. Doubt leads life to new horizon. Any doubt? No!
The writer is Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, Daffodil International University.