Maieutic

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Maieutic comes from the Orphic tradition which conveyed the belief in the reminiscence.

Maieutic is often linked with the child, showing Maia as a goddess of childbirth and midwifes while she was in fact one of the seven goddess of the Pleiades. Her sisters were Asterope, Celaeno, Electra, Merope, Taygetus and Alcyone who was the mother by Zeus of Aethousa.

It is likely that the pre-existence of a monotheistic belief before Christianity has quickly led to "adjustments" aiming to obscure and to forget the Orphic tradition whose the asserted school (considered as a sect) was Pythagoras'. At the time of the polytheistic Greek, this contesting school was not well appreciated since it contested against the Olympian "pantheon".

Maia was the mother of Hermes, father of Pan, god in the heart of the Orphic tradition.

Orphism recognized four types of relations to "knowledge":

  • What we know that we know - or affirmed as such;
  • What we know that we do not know - including the scientific skepticism (art of the doubt);
  • What we do not know that we know - maieutic art applied on that point;
  • What we do not know that we do not know - opening the whole field of the unimaginable and justifying the intervention of philosopher as illustrated by the accompaniment exposed by the allegory of the Cave , Book VII of the Republic of Plato.

Thus, according to the beliefs of that time and in that tradition, maieutic consists of "delivering the minds" from their knowledge accumulated during previous incarnations.

The maieutic questioning, associated with the Socratic irony, consists in the research of the adhesion of the interviewed person to the philosopher's viewpoint.

Nowadays, the term maieutic which is secularized generally includes questioning techniques aiming to enable someone to express into words what is hidden in him (emotions, desires, wishes, motivations...). It is thus used in link with empathic techniques developed by Carl Rogers which focus on the affect (active or benevolent listening); or with techniques of Mediation.

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