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Socratic Method

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• Socrates
• 
Plato
• 
Athens

 

Definition: Method of teaching pioneered by Socrates, the great Greek philosopher. The Method was a series of questions, by which Socrates made the people who answered the questions understand not only the point he was trying to make but also that they didn't know as much as they thought they did. An example of the Socratic Method is below:


And who is best able to do good to his friends and evil to his enemies in time of sickness?
The physician.

Or when they are on a voyage, amid the perils of the sea?
The pilot.

And in what sort of actions or with a view to what result is the just man most able to do harm to his enemy and good to his friend?
In going to war against the one and in making alliances with the other.

But when a man is well, my dear Polemarchus, there is no need of a physician?
No.

And he who is not on a voyage has no need of a pilot?
No.

Then in time of peace justice will be of no use?
I am very far from thinking so.

You think that justice may be of use in peace as well as in war?


See how Socrates proved his point by asking questions? The last question, by the way, is a rhetorical question, which is designed not to be answered. Socrates asked the question as a way of summing up his argument. The only answer the other person could give, when examining the argument Socrates presented, was Yes.

 

Related Resources:
Ancient Greece
Learn more about the area as a whole.

Elsewhere on the Web:
The Socratic Method
Find out more about this method of philosophy.

Life of Socrates
This biography delves into all aspects of the Socrates story.

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