The Socratic Method - What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Socrates, one of the most important and highly recognised philosophers of all time, is believed to have not written anything at all. Most of what we know about him, his life and his beliefs, is assumed to have been from the writings of two of his students, the historian Xenophon and the philosopher Plato. Supposedly, Socrates was born into a wealthy family, so he had the means to spend some of his former years being a distinctive soldier. However, he is best identified and branded as the person who questions everything and everyone around him. He has always been controversial but his powerful advocacy and peculiar thinking made him the most bizarre and eccentric amongst all Greek philosophers.

Being celebrated as one of the forefathers of Western Philosophy, his own beliefs and critically thinking led to the foundation of his very essential and powerful contribution to the field of Philosophy, the Socratic Method. Also known as maieutics, the method of elenchus, elenctic method and Socratic debate, the Socratic Method uses the system of questioning and responding to a series of questions in an unending search for truth. Socrates, being all quirky and relentless, spent a lot of time asking his colleagues and students persistent questions in order to get to the very core of the individual’s beliefs.

The Socratic Method is intended not for students and individuals to come up with answers to difficult questions but for them to deliberate rationally on the subject of very challenging and delicate issues. Basically, the Socratic Method’s main objective is to stimulate critical thinking.

Although the Socratic Method is very much respected in places where students are learning Ethics, it is also useful in our day-to-day lives. It is proven that in applying the Socratic Method, one’s ethical thoughts may not just improve but his real beliefs about a certain topic will be rather realised.

In order to execute the method well, you must lead with a controversial subject matter that can produce non-stop questions. Do not give consent to refractions and tangents. For group and cooperative yet argumentative discourses, all members must be given ample yet equal time to explain their thoughts about the subject matter. There will come a time when it’s going to get a bit confusing, especially with uncontrolled emotions, therefore the leader must be able to produce, restate and clarify earlier opinions and assumptions. Moreover, all members must remember that in using the Socratic Method, it is vital that everyone must demonstrate respect for varying thoughts and opinions. It is forbidden to interrupt and disturb a member when he is still explaining his opinion. Thus, it is understood that all members must actively listen while the discussion is on-going so as to use it for support later on.

One very significant part of the Socratic Method is the challenges it brings and causes you to, therefore, think critically and meticulously about your assumptions regarding pressing topics. Time is what you have. Think, question and collect knowledge.

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The Socratic Method - What is it and Why Does it Matter?

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