5. Doubt, opinion, certainty

  1. Doubt and opinion

   True knowledge that we have can be of three kinds: we can doubt it, we can think about it as probable, and we can be certain of it to be real and be sure of its truth. These three states of mind we call: doubt, opinion and certainty.

   We are in doubt when we do not know if a determined knowledge is true or false. For instance, I am not sure if it will rain this afternoon or not.

    We have an opinion when facing two different possibilities, we are leaning towards one of them as the true one. We have no certainty, but we believe this possibility to be the most probable. For instance: I have seen several times a patient and in my opinion they are improving and will leave the hospital soon.

    Future is nearly always debatable, due to the fact that we do not know what will happen after. And so knowledge depending on human will are debatable too. For instance: in the upcoming elections my political party can win or not.

    2. Commentary

    JOHN: I have doubts about almost everything. Little is known about what is shown on TV, whether it is true or false.

    MARY: From what it is said on TV we can doubt about what some journalists say, but other things are true, such as news we truly see.

    JOHN: You are right. We form our opinion from what we know, but there are other people with an opposite opinion.

    MARY: That is why you have to reckon very well what you see on the TV, hear about on the radio and read in the newspapers and notice who has more reason and who less.

  A) COMPRENSION TEST. Choose one of these letters: a, b, c. (If the letter turns out in red colour, the answer is correct)

  1. When we do not know the truth about a knowledge we have:

    a. doubt
    b. opinion
    c. certainty

  2. When we are sure about a truth we have:

    a. doubt
    b. opinion
    c. certainty

 3. When a knowledge is probable, but without being sure of it, we have:

    a. doubt
    b. opinion
    c. certainty

 4. I do not know whether it will rain or not. This is:

    a. opinion
    b. certainty
    c. doubt

 5. When we think about a possibility to be more likely, we have:

    a. opinion
    b. certainty
    c. doubt

 6. The future is almost always:

    a. sure
    b. debatable
    c. true




  3. God is not understandable

   There is certainty when we are completely sure about a truth. For instance: the sun rises every day. This certainty is founded on evidence, because we see every day that the sun rises. Perhaps today is a cloudy day and we cannot see the sun, but we are sure that when clouds disappear the sun will be right up there.

     Other times we have not certainty about knowledge, but we trust what our parents and teachers tell us. The criteria of truth are: evidence (what we see and touch), tradition (what the ancients and books say) and authority (our parents or teachers or other people, who have seen it).

     Neither majority nor consensus is a criterion of truth. Even though many people affirm a false thing, it is still not true. For example: for many centuries, people thought slavery to be a normal and good thing, although right now we are aware that it is not.

    4. Commentary

    MARY: I believe that we have to look for certain or true knowledge, although we find it hard.

    JOHN: But neither all things are evident nor we can see and touch all of them.

    MARY: It is true, but we can have confidence in books, teachers and parents.

    JOHN: There are people that trust majority or consensus, but laws only have the authority because they have been passed by the Congress.

    MARY: But if a thing is bad, it is still bad even though many people approve it.

  B) COMPREHENSION TEST. Choose the right answer: a, b, c.

  1. To be sure of a truth is named:

    a. doubt
    b. opinion
    c. certainty

  2. There is evidence when the truth:

    a. we see it
    b. we think of it
    c. we suppose it

 3. We trust what parents and _______ tell us:

    a. TV
    b. teachers
    c. cartoon

 4. What we see and touch produces:

    a. evidence
    b. tradition
    c. authority

 5. What History and books say produces:

    a. evidence
    b. tradition
    c. authority

 6. What parents and teachers say produces:

    a. evidence
    b. tradition
    c. authority




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| Educational applications |
Philosophy | In Spanish | To print |

®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of 29-IX-1999
Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL