This is a paper about what it means to be early. Philosophy has been
early from the moment of its inception in the west. Socrates was the
first to have been ‘ahead of his time’. Thinking of himself under the
sign of a midwife, he believed himself to be stamped with the project
of giving birth to a new form of thinking which would in the first
instance be critical of existing templates of thought and in the second
grasp the essentially experimental character of the search for knowledge.
To bring about a sea change in the young, to bring them to the
brink of this questioning, experimental moment, to accommodate
them to the whirl of a reality whose contours were unknown and
whose design undiscovered was for him the task of education. This
questioning spirit, meant to challenge the oligarchic and the complacent
through a relentless cross-examination or ‘elenchus’, famously
accepts that the wisest person is ‘the one who knows that he does not
know’ and famously acknowledges the difficulty in achieving genuine
knowledge of anything in this kaleidoscopic world.