So often I think I know about something and then get jerked around and realize I had missed something. Often, this has to do with perspective. For instance….
I always saw the instructional techniques of the Middle East and Islam as authoritarian transmission strapped in by rigid manners of expression and tight boundaries of acceptable views. But in an unlikely source, Tony Buzan’s The Mind Map Book, I found a different perspective. Middle Eastern education unrolls in stages. The first stage is meant to impart the received knowledge. After that, at about the third stage, comes questioning.
Now we may find dangers in that approach, the danger of being so brain-washed that we cannot think outside the box so that the questioning becomes perfunctory and itself within rigid bounds of propriety. But it is a long way from the earlier, simplistic view I had that there was only the transmission of a frozen “knowledge system”, deviation from which brought instant ostracism, thus stultifying the intellect.
Karen Armstrong’s books that treat of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity go a long way toward disabusing us of simplistic notions of the intellectual content of these religions and, by extension, of the societies that bear them.