For it is written:I will dismantle the wisdom of the wise
and I will invalidate the intelligence of the scholars.
“The reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantling of wisdom.”— Jacques Lacan
The desire to understand something often turns into a quest for knowledge and wisdom that leads one to different sources with various questions in hopes that our desire to understand will be fulfilled. However, in Plato's The Trial and Death of Socrates the reader finds Socrates asking questions not to gain knowledge or wisdom, but to dismantle wisdom.
Through his constant questioning and challenging of thoughts and responses Socrates is attempting to reveal to the subject of his questions that they are not truly as wise as they believe themselves to be.
To learn something new often requires us to first unlearn something older...
Unlearning is not about forgetting. It’s about the ability to choose an alternative mental model or paradigm. When we learn, we add new skills or knowledge to what we already know. When we unlearn, we step outside the mental model in order to choose a different one.
As an example, last summer I rented a car to travel around Great Britain. I had never driven this kind of car before, so I had to learn the placement of the various controls. I also had to learn how to drive on the left side of the road. All of that was relatively easy. The hard part was unlearning how to drive on the right. I had to keep telling myself to “stay left.” It’s the reason crosswalks in London have reminders for pedestrians to “look right.” It’s not easy to unlearn the mental habits that no longer serve us.