Let Us Ask Questions

Light of truth

Questioning is the capacity which human beings only have through which human being finds meaning in life. This urge to know is the starting point of knowledge, information, philosophy etc. When people were wondering about the supernatural powers in the nature, they started to ask questions regarding those realities beyond their understanding. Socrates, as the first martyr of philosophy, changed the path of this inquiry from an objective outward investigation to subjective inward introspection. His slogan was ‘know thy self.’ He believed that there is infinitely worthier subject than all these trees and stones, which is human mind. He stressed the importance of interiority; what is man? And what can he become?

Development of this philosophical technique of Socrates, known as ‘midwifery method,’ was very much influenced by his mother Phaenarete, who was a midwife. Midwife is a woman who is trained to assist women in childbirth. In those days a midwife would bring the baby in to the world. Going to the hospital to deliver a baby was either impossible or unheard of. From this experience of his mother’s occupation, Socrates developed his philosophical techniques as midwifery method. Socrates compares himself to a midwife, who can establish whether a woman is pregnant, induce labour, calm its pain and bring about the delivery of a healthy child. He differs from a midwife only in that he works with men rather than with women, and with the soul rather than with the body. All he can do is to bring forth wisdom in others. What Socrates did was make others to question themselves. So he said, “well, my midwifery has all the standard features, except that I practice it on men instead of women, and supervise the labour of their minds, not their bodies.” Without anyone having taught, and only through questions recovering the knowledge out of oneself. Learning amounts to uncovering in oneself, or recovering, what is already there.We are living in an era in which we are very much afraid of questioning others, afraid of facing questions from others. We should not impose our ideas, dreams upon others; help others to search the best within them. Whole system of our education process, spirituality …etc should assist everybody to attain this realm of understanding about themselves, others and the universe by an honest search for meaning. Therefore, let us ask, and let others ask.

Fr Joseph Palattil

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