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Socratic Method Essay, Research Paper

The Socratic method

The Socratic Philosophy is basically a quest for the virtuous life; the main pillar of the Socratic thought is a virtuous life. Although, to his death, he did not offer any definition of a virtuous life–his life itself is the answer.

The Socratic method consists of the question and answer mode of inquiry. It draws from the existence of the person. It does not impose certain assumptions of the interlocutors. It releases the person from his/her own unchecked assumptions. It makes the person question his/her own assumptions. It liberates the self from suppressing and repressing experiences in life.

The challenge here is for the teacher; one must really be a very good teacher. A person that has gone through many experiences in life can only effectively utilize the Socratic method. The challenge for the human resource and reorganization development professionals and learning organization builders is to stop teaching and, like Socrates, they learn; and by learning together, teach others to think for themselves. Then, we would have more listening, thinking, virtuous people around us. Then, this world will be a good and peaceful place to live in.

No one can talk us into these common, primary ideas. No lecture can plant these into our minds. They are already there. The task is to bring them out. Here discussion is vital. Speech is a sign of man’s social nature, for we have tongues to communicate. But we also use words to make our own thoughts clear to ourselves. Without words we would be hard pressed to understand anything. Thinking is often characterized as an internal means because we make use of words even in our private reflections. Dialogue with another often helps us to clarify further to ourselves just what we really do mean especially when the other has asked the right questions. A good teacher is able through the right questions to make us aware of our most basic ideas in the light of which we are able to make judgments about other things.

Neither computer, calculators, audiovisual techniques, can make us see these all-important truths that are in our souls. A person may be able to take up Technology in its latest form without having to go back to the first inventions and repeat all the labors of his/her ancestors. But this is not so in liberal education. In this way it is more like moral formation. Our parents may be courageous and just, but we cannot take up where they left off; rather we must go through the whole experience of acquiring virtue as they did. No short cuts. We ourselves must do it from the bottom up. It is as basic and unchanging as human nature. There may be short cuts to “know how” and technical skills, but not to wisdom.


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