THE DUALITY OF CONVICTION AND DOUBT.
I have been discussing various contradictory thoughts that govern our behaviour. The irony lies in the fact that these contradictory thoughts influence our thinking at the same time. More importantly, we are not even aware of their simultaneous existence in our own psyche and their influence. Therefore, we behave in a self contradictory manner without being aware of it. Since these types of dualities govern our entire lives, it is necessary to deconstruct and understand their origins. This series of blogs on the dualities of life revolves around this deconstruction of our internal inconsistencies. In this blog, I would discuss another such duality of conviction and doubt.
On the face of it, the notions of conviction and doubt appear to be mutually exclusive. One can either be convinced about something or be doubtful about it. Therefore, one can not be convinced as well as doubtful about any given belief. Therefore, it seems unlikely that conviction and doubt can both influence our belief. However, upon little reflection, it would be apparent that we are absolutely convinced about only few of our beliefs. Similarly, there only few beliefs which we absolutely reject. In fact, our minds take an ambivalent attitude towards most of the beliefs that we come across. It requires only few incidents in our lives for us to change our attitude from total conviction to total rejection or vice versa. In fact, it is intuitively clear that the state of total conviction and total rejection are only two hypothetical extreme positions. We rarely, if ever, take these positions. Normally, we have an ambivalent attitudes towards most of our beliefs. We tend to believe in whole lot of beliefs (even if they are self contradictory ), but only provisionally. We always entertain certain doubts about these beliefs. The only difference is that our doubts are normally hidden from our conscious minds.
Therefore, it would be correct to say that even when we assert our conviction about a certain belief, at a subconscious level, we do carry some doubts about it. It is as if we believe and disbelieve ideas at the same time. Therefore, others, people who are close enough to observe us, find our behaviour not just inconsistent, but also self contradictory. However, since we harbour both these attitudes of belief and doubt in our minds, we fail to see these inconsistencies and self contradictions. Therefore, it is necessary to understand why do we end up believing and disbelieving any idea at the same time. This is necessary because it would help us to reduce these inner contradictions.
The origin of this duality lies in the fact that our minds are trained to process any such belief only after assuming it to be true. In other words, our minds begin by asking that what if a given statement were to be true ? It temporarily assumes that the given statement is true. Having done that, our mind tries to work out various possible scenarios that would arise if the given statement were to be true. Then, our mind seeks empirical evidence for these scenarios. Depending on such empirical verification, our mind would manifest conviction or doubt. There is one important consequence of this mechanism. Our mind tends to believe in any statement, unless disproved otherwise. In other words, our minds assigns a positive truth value to every statement it comes across by default. It is only when the empirical verification suggests otherwise, that our mind starts disbelieving that statement.
Readers might object to such a picture of how our mind works. Obviously, what is written above runs against our day to day experience. The reason for this is very simple. What I have outlined above is how a young child would behave. However, as one grows up, we accumulate large number of such statements which are empirically verified. Therefore, as adults, we use this stored memory of these verified statements to compare with any new statement that we come across. Therefore, we, as grown ups are not as gullible as we were as children.
The key fact, the one that is often overlooked, is that our adult mind still works the same way as it does for children. Therefore, it still assigns a positive truth value to every new statement it comes across by default. Of course, in the case of grown ups like us, the verification (or falsification )comes quickly. However, it happens only when we consciously examine these statements. Till such time, in our subconscious mind, the statement is taken to be true because that is how our subconscious mind works. Therefore, we end up in believing and disbelieving at the same time. The fault lies in the fact that our conscious mind and our subconscious mind works at cross purpose with one another. Therefore, we always remain ambivalent about the whole lot of beliefs.
The real tragedy of this duality is that we, without being aware of it, try to accommodate these two mutually exclusive positions by finding out a halfway solution. Our conscious mind and our subconscious mind are connected somewhere in our ego. It is this agency of ego that tries create a compromise. Since the ego is governed by emotions and not by logic, the solutions brought about by ego are emotionally coloured and logically ambivalent. This is what creates angst. Therefore, we are condemned to live with the duality of conviction and doubt. It need not be taken as a pessimistic view of life. This is because, this duality has a redeeming feature. It allows each one of us to find a way of reconciling our own inner contradictions. The very ego that causes these contradictions is capable of rising above the duality of conviction and doubt by taking a view from a higher dimension. When this happens, we can resolve this duality. Thus, our ego is the cause as well as the solution of this duality. We have freedom to rise above to this duality and sadly, we also have freedom to be governed by this duality. I have found this freedom while writing novels. I can only hope that reading this blog would prompt you to seek that freedom.
In my next blog, I would discuss the duality of conscious and subconscious mind. That would bring to an end this series of blogs. After that, I would discuss my next, as yet unfinished novel.