by Caitlín Matthews
AN ORAL HERITAGE
The asking of questions and the giving of answers remains one of the most primal means of teaching and of learning knowledge. Questions arise from the place of our dark, needful ignorance: answers shed the relief of light into that darkness. Darkness and light, ignorance and knowledge, are the eternal poles of our forgetfulness and our recollection.
Socrates, in Plato’s Phaedo, tells us: ‘What we call learning is really just recollection…what we recollect now we must have learned at some time before, which is impossible unless our souls existed somewhere before they entered human shape’ When asked about how that theory is proved, Socrates cites what happens when people are asked questions. ‘If the question is put in the right way they can give a perfectly correct answer, which they could not possibly do unless they had some knowledge and a proper grasp of the subject.