The Socratic Method

What is Socratic Method?

It is one of the inquiring methods practiced by Socrates in his life, a method which simply put, is to ask consecutive questions to people. The questions are, of course not simple kind of questions; mostly it is philosophical and purposefully put to make the questioned person think. If you want to understand more about what is Socratic Method, Google “Socrates’ Dialogues” written by plato and you will see some names appearing: Euthyphro, Miletus, Phaedros, etc. Those are the names of people Socrates’ are having dialogue with, in which each is dilligently recorded by his student Plato. These dialogues, are unique in the sense that if Socrates were to be compared to these people, he would be floored by his inferior official position. But oftentimes Socrates, being so humble and yet at the same time wise, often asking unique questions to his conversation partner, which shows his immense wisdom. For example when Euthyphro is confronted with a question:

 “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

That question is dubbed “Euthyphro’s Dilemma”. The question itself arouse some sense of doubt of what Euthyphro himself believe as something morally good/pious. For more detailed analysis i hugely recommend you to read the book yourself. You can get it freely at Project Gutenberg.

Well, that being of the examples of how Socratic Method useful for confounding people, it is also useful to illuminate people’s mind to find their own answer. Oftentimes, when somebody ask you a question, your brain actually already know the answer but the vessel in which the answer is to be put isn’t assembled yet. To assemble it, you think, think, and think to find which kind of vessel parts needed to answer it. After some careful thoughts,  you’ll find the suitable part and you assemble it. Thus the answer is put. Well, that’s easy if it’s such a trivial question.

Now how if it’s a philosophical question? It’s a question in which you really have to dig deeper in your brain to really find the unique parts suitable in answering it. Perhaps, for some people the parts doesn’t exist because he/she rarely thinks of course. But well, as i told you earlier, The Socratic Method is also useful in illuminating. When you ask a question; there’s assumption that the one who ask perhaps already know the answer right? But he’s asking because he wants people to have similar understanding, i.e. to spread ideas. So, by using consecutive questions to people you wish to illuminate at, it will help them answer it and at the same time growing their own sense of intellect. The method, as being put simply by Leonard Nelson:

“To confront their own dogmatism.”

One thing about asking, is that it makes you neutral and assertive. Asking incur the questioner become lower as to become listener to person answering it. It is helpful if you’re in the middle of an argument with somebody, in which you can try to step back and instead of putting another argument, ask a question which aims to stop the arson in the person’s mind, to make him reflect what’s he’s trying to justify. Even the harshest argument can fall once the simplest definition of one of its components is a fallacy. The root is often simple, as people say it. But being so simple, people often hide it away or rather think of it as unnecessary. By asking questions you’re uprooting that simple thing. So don’t be afraid to ask. There’s nothing wrong about somebody who wish a better insight on somebody’s rigor or something. Curiosity is one of humanity’s hallmarks.


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