Doubt

“Cogito ergo sum.”

“I think, therefore I am.”

This is the proposition most commonly quoted for the French philosopher Rene Descartes.

However, when you look at his text, Discourse on the Method, it actually reads:

 

“Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum.”

“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.”

 

TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about doubt and apathy. Doubt, in my opinion, is a vital force in the quest for understanding. Without doubt, the search for knowledge can become complacent and dull.

“Without doubt, the search for knowledge can become complacent and dull.”

For Descartes, the act of doubting one’s own existence served as a basic proof of the reality of one’s own mind. This doubt, allowed for thinking beasts to realize fundamentals. Today’s Sunday Surgical Scrub is not about Descartes but it serves our discussion on doubt well.

Doubt is an extension of the existence of the individual. It is this ability – the ability to doubt – that can affirm one’s existence and their associated system of beliefs and ethics. In modern living, with all its virtual connections and influences, it is necessary to doubt regularly so that one can arrive at key aspects of character in multiple scenarios.

In the modern context, there exists an endless sea of statements, many of which are derived neither from data or fact. This is where doubt can save you! Doubt what you see on social media, doubt what you hear on television, doubt what you read in the news; doubt your teacher and preacher alike. Doubt so that you may come to understand.

“Doubt so that you may come to understand.”

What role does apathy play? Apathy is defined as a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. In medicine, it can be a diagnostic clue to psychiatric disease. However, I believe the strength to be apathetic – to garner little concern for trivialities can be a boon of strength. Consider the human of today as an over-connected organism and you realize that – to effectively think for yourself – doubt and apathy are cornerstones to living comfortably in your own skin.

 

MEDICINE & MACULA: Many thanks to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine for selecting me as one of their Top Doctors Rising Stars in the April 2017 issue. This is awarded to physicians selected through a peer-nomination process. You can find the list here.
 

GRATIS: Descartes published The Discourse on the Method in 1637. It was originally titled: Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences. I like the long title!

 

My best to you,

David Almeida

david@davidalmeidamd.com

Read more