Socratic Method is named after the Greek philosopher Socrates and is a means of conducting a philosophical inquiry whereby the person asking the question will explore the implication of the other person’s position in order to illuminate ideas and stimulate a rational thinking pattern. This is believed to be a dialectical method involving discussions between opposite parties whereby one point of view is defended by being pitted against the other. A person in the discussion can lead the other person to contradict himself by using his reasoning to emphasize the viewpoint of the person making the inquiry. This method was applied by Socrates to examine concepts that appeared to be short of specific definitions, such as that of justice, courage, temperance, wisdom, piety, and virtues. This way of examining the different concepts proved to be a challenge to those that discussed philosophy and brought out the inconsistencies and inadequacies in their belief systems. Socrates advocated this wisdom as being the basis of his encouragement in moral terms and said that the main goodness for human beings comprises in taking good care of the concerned person’s soul along with the moral understanding and moral truth that it is not wealth that brings the good feelings, but it is good that enables accrual of wealth and other blessings, both to the state and the individual. He professed that a life without such dialogues is not worth living.
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The motive behind using the Method in the modern world does not bear similarity as compared to what Socrates had envisioned. In the understanding of the student of today, the Socratic Method is a discussion or conversation whereby two or more people help each other to find appropriate answers for difficult questions. Socrates proceeded in this manner because he understood, despite his several claims of ignorance that it was not adequate to just know of the facts, to parrot lectures, or to memorize lessons. To seek wisdom and to know the truth, one has to make efforts towards learning and understanding. If one is asked the question as to “what” makes one realize what he knows or does not know, then the question of “why” will lead one to recognize the world in a fundamental and fuller manner. The understanding of the student becomes greater in facilitating his goal to recognize the facts so that he answers the questions on his own and considers the validity of assertions made by other people. This does not imply that he is required to give reasoning and explanation for his opinions to other members of the group. Although this Method is a powerful tool, there are other alternatives also to learn in this regard.
The Socratic Method is used widely in the present day law education. A typical class setting entails the professor asking particular questions to a single student and then moving on to others. The Method has also been adopted for use in psychotherapy and is used to clarify consequences, meanings, and feelings, as also to gradually know of perceptions and to search for different choices of actions. This is also considered to be an effective teaching method for the creation of autonomous thinkers, and there are some noteworthy elements of lesson plans for this system of teaching. The Method is now being used by management training programs to facilitate behavioral skills, attitudinal change and enhancement of knowledge.
Max Maxwell, The Socratic Method and its Effect on Critical Thinking, 2009.
Norris Archer Harrington, What is the Socratic Method? Web.