As a teacher, I spend a much of my time trying to guide and encourage students in developing the tools of critical thinking — and much time wondering why it is so hard to do so. Listening to this program today, it struck me that one obstacle to good analytic and critical thinking is a fear of doubt. Perhaps for my students, and for many of the rest of us (including our leaders), doubt is equated with weakness and is then a flaw, not a strength. I look forward to reading Dr. Hecht's book and following these ideas more deeply, and thinking about how to make doubt a part of my classroom practice.
I'm also intrigued and energized by the synthesis of intellectual and spiritual ideas generated through the inquiry into doubt. How exciting to juxtapose Maimonedes and Ben Franklin! I'd like to add Shakyamuni Buddha to the mix. One of the basic tenets of much Buddhist practice is atta dipa, "follow your own light." The Buddha's final instruction to his "followers" was not to follow, but to question and test his teachings for themselves. The zen questions which today are known largely as silly stereotypes ("what is the sound of one hand clapping?") are not intended to be answered, but to create ever-deepening doubt. Korean zen practice is especially concerned with meditating on the hwadu, a question like "What is 'I'?"
In such practices, doubt is the means to enlightenment — it is essential, not heretical. I thought Zen Buddhism was unique in this, but another's post reference to Paul will be sending me back to my Bible to learn more. Thanks for the opportunity to develop these ideas!
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