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The Art and Danger of the Question Essay

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Updated: Jul 14th, 2021

Introduction

The study of ancient thinkers’ philosophical arguments, their concepts, and the interpretation of certain social norms and laws is the goal of the educational course and the work conducted during this period. Such ideas will be considered as Socrates’ philosophical question and reasoning regarding the theory of constant cognition, Plato’s traditional knowledge as the educational base of the past era, and the rhetoric of Aristotle.

Socrates’ Philosophical Question and the Theory of Constant Cognition

It is impossible to imagine reasoning about ancient cognition theories without mentioning Socrates as one of the founders of philosophy as a science. According to Turgeon, the thinker “may be considered to be the father of the philosophical question” (291). The main idea that can be presented in the context of his teachings is the desire for constant knowledge and gaining new experience, which allows oneself to develop as an individual.

This approach is also relevant today since most educational concepts involve regular research in certain areas and the search for the truth through the study of learning materials. As Turgeon notes, the basic essence of the philosophical question in the context of Socrates’ teaching is an opportunity to study the new aspects of life through non-stop education and the formation of new skills (291). In my understanding, such a principle of knowledge is widespread today, and I have already come across a teaching methodology that corresponded to it.

When I was in high school, and I was 16, my literature teacher constantly told my classmates and me that any academic subject required not only superficial consideration but also in-depth analysis. According to him, any literary work can be read and forgotten in a few months. However, when studying it more deeply, for instance, through assessing the relationship among characters in terms of their temperament or views, the material will remain in memory for a long time.

The teacher proposed us to develop plans for analysis independently and test our knowledge of not only the content of the stories and plays read but also our personal evaluation of the events described. As a result, we all could express our opinions concerning certain phenomena that we met in literary works. We posed questions and looked for responses to them, comparing one another’s positions and discussing specific nuances. Thus, such work was productive and allowed each of us to understand better what method of knowledge was used.

Plato’s Traditional Knowledge

Plato’s works are closely related to the ideas of Socrates and support his arguments. However, unlike his teacher, Plato expressed most of his concepts in the form of dialogues, while Socrates preferred oral conversations with his students and followers. The new principles of knowledge were discovered, which later formed into traditional knowledge associated with a specific philosopher.

According to Turgeon, Plato was one of the founders of the theory of objective idealism, recognizing the reality of the world existence (291). He believed that in addition to human consciousness, there was a universal mind that defined all material processes and served as a source of answers to questions (Turgeon 291). His knowledge was characterized by the search for responses by assessing the ability of the human mind to interpret the information received. Plato’s approach is considered the classic method of teaching and is the background of the modern educational idea.

I gained my first experience with Plato’s works at 18 when I had to write an essay on the possibilities of the human brain. At that moment, I did not consider consciousness as the complex system of accumulated experience, and I learned about what factors influenced the perception of new knowledge in the context of already known truths. As a result of the work done, I received an excellent grade and became more interested in those features of human thought that were related to the accumulation of knowledge and the desire for cognition. This principle of learning promoted by Plato is reflected not only in modern philosophy but also in other academic disciplines. Therefore, I find this concept to be useful and important theory of the art of questioning.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric

Aristotle was another ancient philosopher whose works are valued today and considered the basis of ideas embedded in the general concept of the knowledge of human existence. He was a student of Plato’s Academy and, in many ways, pursued similar interests, considering the art of questioning as an educational concept. However, as Herrick remarks, Aristotle is the author of unique philosophical doctrines, in particular, rhetoric, a special oratory aimed at finding the truth through discussion (70).

The ability to find beliefs in support of certain assumptions demonstrates the development of rhetorical skills and an opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal through the continuous search for essential knowledge. Herrick argues that Aristotle’s topics “should be understood as the primary elements of enthymemes,” which means that the search for unknown facts occurs with the help of comprehensive assessment and the discussion of existing information (83).

In many ways, such a concept is similar to what is called a deductive method today since, having general data, it is possible to determine specific details. I have already encountered this philosophical principle, and I have managed to succeed by following the rules of Aristotle.

When I was 14, our school principal decided to organize the competition of public speaking among students of 14-15. If I am not mistaken, the topic was related to the protection of the environment and human influence on the pollution of nature. I was assigned to prepare a report and present it to the audience. I thought that an oral performance would be enough; however, as it turned out, the most important part of the competition was the answering the question asked from viewers after the presentation of the individual work. At first, I felt uneasy, trying to answer provocative questions correctly.

Later, my opponents entered into the discussion, and I realized that I needed to reason logically and resort to arguments that were able to protect my point of view. I understood that my knowledge was extensive enough to provide reasonable responses and find the most significant facts in support of specific ideas.

Ultimately, I realized that it was the main task of the participants in the competition – to prove that they were able to defend the individual points of view and resort to healthy and logical reasoning. In the end, I shared the first place with a boy from another class who was no less convincing than me. This experience helped me to understand what rhetoric was better and why Aristotle paid special attention to it.

Conclusion

The considered philosophical approaches related to the art of questioning have both common and distinctive features and are those concepts that are the important components of the general idea of ​​cognition. Such outstanding thinkers as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle made a significant contribution to the theoretical foundations of philosophy that served as the background for the formation of modern doctrines. My personal experience proves that the application of these ideas in practice can help to achieve respect from other people and understand the process of learning better.

Works Cited

Herrick, James A. The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction. 5th ed., Routledge, 2016.

Turgeon, Wendy C. “The Art and Danger of the Question: Its Place Within Philosophy for Children and Its Philosophical History.” Mind, Culture, and Activity, vol. 22, no. 4, 2015, pp. 284-298.

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