Socratic Dialogue (Argumentation)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
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  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In rhetoric , Socratic dialogue is an argument (or series of arguments) using the question-and-answer method employed by Socrates in Plato's Dialogues . Also known as  Platonic dialogue .

Susan Koba and Anne Tweed describe Socratic dialogue as "the conversation that results from the Socratic method , a discussion process during which a facilitator promotes independent, reflective, and critical thinking " ( Hard-to-Teach Biology Concepts , 2009).

Examples and Observations

  • "The ' Socratic dialogue ' or the ' Platonic dialogue ' usually begins with Socrates professing ignorance of the subject matter. He asks questions of the other characters, the result being a fuller understanding of the subject. The dialogues are usually named after the key person interrogated by Socrates, as in Protagoras where this famous Sophist is questioned about his views on rhetoric. The dialogue has obvious relations to both dramatic form and argumentation . In the dialogues, the characters speak in ways appropriate not only to their own views, but to their speaking styles as well. Lane Cooper points out four elements of the dialogues: The plot or movement of the conversation, the agents in their moral aspect ( ethos ), the reasoning of the agents ( dianoia ), and their style or diction ( lexis ). "The dialogues are also a form of ' dialectical ' reasoning, a branch of logic focusing on reasoning in philosophical matters where absolute certainty may be unattainable but where truth is pursued to a high degree of probability." (James J. Murphy and Richard A. Katula, A Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric . Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003)
  • The Socratic Method in Business "[S]he could see that he was trying to teach the other men, to coax and persuade them to look at the factory's operations in a new way. He would have been surprised to be told it, but he used the Socratic method : he prompted the other directors and the middle managers and even the foremen to identify the problems themselves and to reach by their own reasoning the solutions he had himself already determined upon. It was so deftly done that she had sometimes to temper her admiration by reminding herself that it was all directed by the profit motive ..." (David Lodge, Nice Work . Viking, 1988)

The Socratic Method, According to H.F. Ellis

What is the argument of the Idealist School of Philosophy against the absolute existence, or externality, of the objects of experience? A question of this kind is best answered by the Socratic Method , an admirable arrangement whereby you call yourself "Philosopher" and your opponent, who has no will of his own, "Man in the Street" or "Thrasymachus." The argument then proceeds thus.

Philosopher: You will, I suppose, agree that the Understanding, through the same operations whereby in conceptions, by means of analytical unity, it produced the logical form of a judgement, introduces, by means of the synthetical unity of the manifold in intuition, a transcendental content into its representations, on which account they are called pure conceptions of the understanding?

Thrasymachus: Yes, I agree.

Philosopher: And further, is it not true that the mind fails in some cases to distinguish between actual and merely potential existence?

Thrasymachus: It is true.

Philosopher: Then S is P must be true of all predicative judgements?

Thrasymachus: Certainly.

Philosopher: And A is not -A?

Thrasymachus: It is not.

Philosopher: So that every judgment may be taken either intensively or extensively

Thrasymachus: Indubitably.

Philosopher: And this is through the activity of the apperceptive unity of self-consciousness, sometimes called cognition?

Thrasymachus: Indisputably.

Philosopher: Which arranges the phenomena of the sense-manifold in accordance with the principles of a primitive synthesis?

Thrasymachus: Incontrovertibly.

Philosopher: And these principles are the Categories?

Thrasymachus: Yeah!

Philosopher: Thus the universal is real and self-existent, and the particular only a quality of the understanding. So, in the end, your opinion is found to coincide with mine, and we agree that there is no a priori necessity for the continued existence of unperceived phenomena?

Thrasymachus: No. My opinion is that you are talking a lot of balderdash and ought to be locked up. Am I not right?

Philosopher: I suppose you are.

It will be observed that the Socratic Method is not infallible, especially when dealing with Thrasymachus. (Humphry Francis Ellis, So This Is Science! Methuen, 1932)

Example of a Socratic Dialogue: Excerpt From Gorgias

Socrates: I see, from the few words which Polus has uttered, that he has attended more to the art which is called rhetoric than to dialectic.

Polus: What makes you say so, Socrates?

Socrates: Because, Polus, when Chaerephon asked you what was the art which Gorgias knows, you praised it as if you were answering someone who found fault with it, but you never said what the art was.

Polus: Why, did I not say that it was the noblest of arts?

Socrates: Yes, indeed, but that was no answer to the question: nobody asked what was the quality, but what was the nature, of the art, and by what name we were to describe Gorgias. And I would still beg you briefly and clearly, as you answered Chaerephon when he asked you at first, to say what this art is, and what we ought to call Gorgias: Or rather, Gorgias, let me turn to you, and ask the same question, what are we to call you, and what is the art which you profess?

Gorgias: Rhetoric, Socrates, is my art.

Socrates: Then I am to call you a rhetorician?

Gorgias: Yes, Socrates, and a good one too, if you would call me that which, in Homeric language, "I boast myself to be."

Socrates: I should wish to do so.

Gorgias: Then pray do.

Socrates: And are we to say that you are able to make other men rhetoricians?

Gorgias: Yes, that is exactly what I profess to make them, not only at Athens, but in all places.

Socrates: And will you continue to ask and answer questions, Gorgias, as we are at present doing and reserve for another occasion the longer mode of speech which Polus was attempting? Will you keep your promise, and answer shortly the questions which are asked of you?

Gorgias: Some answers, Socrates, are of necessity longer; but I will do my best to make them as short as possible; for a part of my profession is that I can be as short as any one.

Socrates: That is what is wanted, Gorgias; exhibit the shorter method now, and the longer one at some other time.

Gorgias: Well, I will; and you will certainly say, that you never heard a man use fewer words.

Socrates: Very good then; as you profess to be a rhetorician, and a maker of rhetoricians, let me ask you, with what is rhetoric concerned: I might ask with what is weaving concerned, and you would reply (would you not?), with the making of garments?

Gorgias: Yes.

Socrates: And music is concerned with the composition of melodies?

Gorgias: It is.

Socrates: By Here, Gorgias, I admire the surpassing brevity of your answers.

Gorgias: Yes, Socrates, I do think myself good at that.

Socrates: I am glad to hear it; answer me in like manner about rhetoric: with what is rhetoric concerned?

Gorgias: With discourse.

Socrates: What sort of discourse, Gorgias--such discourse as would teach the sick under what treatment they might get well?

Gorgias: No.

Socrates: Then rhetoric does not treat of all kinds of discourse?

Gorgias: Certainly not.

Socrates: And yet rhetoric makes men able to speak?

Socrates: And to understand that about which they speak?

Gorgias: Of course...

Socrates: Come, then, and let us see what we really mean about rhetoric; for I do not know what my own meaning is as yet. When the assembly meets to elect a physician or a shipwright or any other craftsman, will the rhetorician be taken into counsel? Surely not. For at every election he ought to be chosen who is most skilled; and, again, when walls have to be built or harbours or docks to be constructed, not the rhetorician but the master workman will advise; or when generals have to be chosen and an order of battle arranged, or a proposition taken, then the military will advise and not the rhetoricians: what do you say, Gorgias? Since you profess to be a rhetorician and a maker of rhetoricians, I cannot do better than learn the nature of your art from you. And here let me assure you that I have your interest in view as well as my own. For likely enough some one or other of the young men present might desire to become your pupil, and in fact I see some, and a good many too, who have this wish, but they would be too modest to question you. And therefore when you are interrogated by me, I would have you imagine that you are interrogated by them. "What is the use of coming to you, Gorgias?" they will say. "About what will you teach us to advise the state?--about the just and unjust only, or about those other things also which Socrates has just mentioned?" How will you answer them?

Gorgias: I like your way of leading us on, Socrates, and I will endeavour to reveal to you the whole nature of rhetoric. (from Part One of Gorgias by Plato, c. 380 BC. Translated by Benjamin Jowett)

" Gorgias shows us that pure Socratic dialogue is, indeed, 'not possible anywhere or at any time' by showing us the structural, material, and existential realities of power that disable the mutually beneficial search for truth." (Christopher Rocco, Tragedy and Enlightenment: Athenian Political Thought, and the Dilemmas of Modernity . University of California Press, 1997)

The Lighter Side of Socratic Dialogues: Socrates and His Publicist, Jackie

"At lunch, Socrates voiced his misgivings. "'Should I be doing all of this?' he asked. 'I mean, is the unexamined life even worth--' "'Are you being serious?' interrupted Jackie. 'Do you want to be a star philosopher or do you want to go back to waiting tables?' "Jackie was one of the few people who really knew how to handle Socrates, usually by cutting him off and answering his questions with a question of her own. And, as always, she managed to convince Socrates that she was right and avoid being fired. Socrates listened to her, then paid for both of their lunches and went right back to work. "It was shortly after that fateful lunch that the backlash began. Socrates's constant questions had become intolerable to many of the Greek elite. Still, as his Publicist had promised, he had become a brand. Imitators all over Athens were now practicing the new Socratic Method . More and more young people were asking each other questions and doing it with Socrates's patented smart-assy tone. "A few days later, Socrates was brought to trial and charged with corrupting the youth." (Demetri Marti, "Socrates's Publicist." This Is a Book . Grand Central, 2011)

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  • Biography of Aristotle, Influential Greek Philosopher and Scientist
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What is Socratic Dialogue Definition Examples and Uses Featured

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What is Socratic Dialogue — Definition, Examples & Uses

A Socratic dialogue is an excellent vehicle for individuals to explore the epistemological nature of ideas. But what is Socratic dialogue? And why is it an excellent vehicle for exploring epistemology? We’re going to answer those questions by defining Socratic dialogue; then we’ll break down some Socratic dialogue examples. By the end, you’ll know how to recognize and implement this techniue in your writing and everyday life.


What is socratic dialogue.

A Socratic dialogue is a conversation between two or more people in which participants are forced to think critically, yet independently about the dialectical and epistemological nature of a subject matter. The “Socratic dialogue” was utilized by the Athenian philosopher Plato to advance arguments involving logic and reason.

How Socratic Dialogue is Used To—

  • Deconstruct rhetoric
  • Guide others towards conclusions
  • Pursue the ultimate truth of ideas

Define Socratic Dialogue 

Background on socratic dialogue.

Many people assume that “Socratic dialogue” is named after the great Greek philosopher Socrates… and it is – but only partly! The term was named after Socrates, but was developed by Plato. 

In Plato’s Socratic dialogues, Socrates serves the role of the protagonist, egging on students (and experts) to examine essential questions regarding the theory of knowledge. This next video breaks down the philosophy behind socratic dialogue in further detail.

Dialogue of Socrates  •  A Lesson From Socrates That Will Change the Way You Think by Robot Banana

Asking questions is at the heart of Socratic dialogues. But what kind of questions need to be asked? For an answer to that question, we’ll look at some classic examples.

Socratic Dialogue Meaning

Classic socratic dialogue examples.

Ancient Athens was a place of burgeoning arts and intellect; one in which athletes, mathematicians, politicians, and others gathered in the public square to listen to the teachings of philosophers like Socrates.

However, philosophers like Socrates were a dime a dozen. Instead, most intellectual discourse took place in private in the form of rhetoric (persuasive argumentation).

Sophists – or Ancient Greek teachers – charged exorbitant rates to nobility to share their expertise on subjects ranging from rhetoric to music.

Sophists widely preached skepticism, which Socrates refuted. This excerpt – taken from Plato’s Gorgias, translated by Benjamin Jowett – is one of the most famous Socratic dialogue examples from the Athenian era.

Plato’s Socratic Dialogue PDF Download

Click to view and download the entire Plato's Socratic Dialogue  PDF below.

What is Socratic Dialogue Socratic Dialogue Downloadable

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Here, Socrates questions the unique benefits of rhetoric. Slowly, he dismantles Gorgias’s rationale, thus disproving the unique benefits of rhetoric.

What is Socratic Dialogue Used For?

How to use socratic dialogue in film.

Some people believe that Socratic dialogue is a relic of the past – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, this technique plays an important part in media and everyday life.

Screenwriters use Socratic dialogue to question subject matter in their stories. This next video takes a look at how Quentin Tarantino used Socratic dialogue to reveal the beliefs of two central characters.

What is Socratic Dialogue Used for?

Socratic dialogue is a great way to indirectly characterize characters. So, let’s break down a couple examples!

First, you’re going to create a Socratic dialogue with Gordan Gekko of Wall Street . If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t worry! We imported the Wall Street screenplay into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software .

Just click the image below to read the excerpt. 

What is Socratic Dialogue Wall Street Example StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

Gordan Gekko’s Speech in Wall Street  •   Read Socratic Example in Wall Street

Let’s break down this scene in Socratic dialogue terms.

The argument: Gekko’s argument is that greed is good.

The premises: One: “Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” Two: “Greed in all its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Hidden Premise: The assertion that Greed “clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit” and “greed in all its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind” proves that greed is good.

The conclusion: Gekko concludes that “Greed will save America.”

One could say that the goal of a Socratic dialogue is to examine the argument and premises with the intent of disproving the conclusion. So, let’s do just that:

Fictional Socratic Dialogue With Gordan Gekko from Wall Street PDF Download

Click to view and download the entire Fictional Socratic Dialogue With Gordan Gekko  PDF below.

What is Socratic Dialogue Fictional Socratic Dialogue From Wall Street Downloadable

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Of course, the dialogue above is a fictional response to the character Gordan Gekko as presented in the original screenplay Wall Street , written by Stanley Weiser and Oliver Stone. In reality, Gekko probably wouldn’t admit flaws in his argument, no matter how foolproof they might be.

Here’s one more quick example of a Socratic dialogue from Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan’s  screenplay for  Interstellar :

What is Socratic Dialogue Interstellar Example StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

Socratic Dialogue Meaning  •   Read Socratic Dialogue Examples in Interstellar

In this example, Cooper and Brand have a simple Socratic dialogue about “nature” and “evil.” Brand suggests that nature is not inherently evil by positing “is a tiger evil because it rips a gazelle to pieces?” Cooper’s response implies agreement with Brand’s assertion. Of course, this Socratic dialogue could be further explored with a more thorough line of questioning.

What is Socratic Irony?

Socratic dialogue is an important type of Socratic discourse – but it’s not the only one. Socratic irony is another type of Socratic discourse. In our next article, we break down the socratic irony definition with examples from A Few Good Men and The Office . By the end, you’ll know what Socratic irony is and how to recognize it.

Up Next: Socratic Irony Definition & Examples →

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Archive Driving Discussion with the Socratic Method

Rob Fleisher

Rob Fleisher

In this post, teacher Cara Popecki shares advice for building a student-centered class dialogue.

Socrates was on to something when he pushed his student Plato to the pinnacle of philosophical thought by simply asking him questions. If you have ever sat through a college humanities course, you are likely very familiar with the Socratic method. It’s a teaching strategy that shifts the focus to student thinking and discussion in lieu of a lecture. Now, how can we make his strategy relevant to 21st century learners?

When I attempted a Socratic Seminar during my first year teaching 9th grade, I thought a single chapter and the one question I assigned would be enough for a full 70-minute discussion. As you can probably guess, about five minutes in, the conversation fizzled. My students stared at me, while I panicked, and I had to improvise for the remainder of class. The worst part was that for the rest of the year, if I wanted to try using the Socratic method, my students were so disinterested from the previous experience that they weren’t willing to participate.

Here is how you can avoid my all-too-common, first-year teacher mistake and engage your students in a Socratic Seminar. We’ll look at how we can blend modern tools with this tried-and-true method of instruction. If you want students to drive their own discussion, then start with these four key components of a great Socratic Seminar:

1. Have a strong curriculum — The Engine

Building a strong curriculum is like designing a good engine; without it you aren’t going anywhere. You need to provide students with a variety of texts for them to drive discussion. For every theme and text set on CommonLit , there are readings that offer historical background, literary perspectives, and even scientific analysis. Providing students with an array of texts widens their options for incorporating evidence into their seminar.

If I’m going to teach a unit on the power of education to my 9th grade students, I can assign them: “ Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison ,” “ The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass ,” and “ Village Schools and Traveling Soldiers .”

2. Prepare plenty of questions — Fill up the Tank

Just like when you fill up your car with gas before a long journey, you should prepare plenty of stimulating questions for a Socratic Seminar. Questions need to spur conversation, debate, and thoughtful dialogue. You have to ask students the right kind of questions that open up more ideas, not close them off with simple one-word answers. I used to agonize over writing these myself.

"Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet" lesson with “Discussion” highlighted in the Activities bar.

I recommend writing a few questions that can relate directly to your students and their interests. I also recommend stopping to “fill-up” for more questions; you can use the 3–5 discussion questions CommonLit provides per text . If you want to ask broader theme-based questions, you can start with some of the suggested themes and essential questions CommonLit offers in the theme library to shape your seminar topic. You can even ask questions that prompt students to think across texts with our paired texts questions.

If I was going to ask about the power of education , I would prepare questions like:

  • How can education be used to create change?
  • What is the goal of education?
  • How does literacy help people overcome adversity?
  • Of the texts we read, how would each of the authors react to our school today?

3. Have performance assessments — Your GPS

Just like we use the GPS to help us navigate to our destination, students need to know how they’re going to be assessed on their performance. Having an assessment on the most basic level helps with classroom management because it keeps students on task and engaged. If you’re trying a Socratic Seminar for the first time, you may want to start with rewarding kids simply for their participation. As you (and your students) become more proficient, you may also want to reward your students for showing mastery of standards, using text evidence, using evidence from multiple texts, etc.

The Socratic Smackdown , from the Institute of Play , offers a great rubric for assessing student performance. It also revolutionized the way we executed the seminar in my class because it was no longer a “task” — now it was a game! You can tailor the rubric to your own needs, depending on what standards and skills you want students to utilize.

A scorecard titled "Socratic Smackdown" by the Institute of Play.

4. Decide on the logistics — Rules of the Road

The final major consideration is to figure out the actual logistics of how to run the seminar. Just like how we need drivers to obey the rules of the road, your students need to follow some basic guidelines. The more students you have, the more likely you will have to run different rounds of seminars. Rounds can be really helpful for differentiation; they allow teachers to utilize different texts and ask various groups of students tailored questions. You have to find what works best for your space and your students.

If I’m running my Power of Education Socratic Smackdown in my 9th grade class of 25 students, I would likely:

  • Use the fishbowl method
  • Group 6–7 students together
  • Make each round approximately 10 minutes
  • Have students in the “outer circle” help me assess the “inner circle” with the scorecards (to keep them engaged)

Students need to feel safe to explore and even fail so they can truly learn from the experience. Set strong classroom culture and norms before starting the seminar. You may even make certain character expectations (like active listening or empathy) part of your rubric.

Final Thoughts

The Socratic method is not just for old guys in togas. Whether you want your students citing evidence, thinking critically, or making reasoned arguments, plan an insightful seminar that will drive them to the desired destination. I found that the seminar was really useful for mixing up a writing-heavy curriculum and it was an enormous confidence-boost for the majority of my students.

You can blend other discussion strategies with the Socratic Seminar to make it work for your class. Try using CommonLit to support your class discussion this year!

For more tips on how to use CommonLit in your classroom, join us at one of our webinars.

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Socratic Questioning in Psychology: Examples and Techniques

socratic questioning

Condemned to death in 399 BC and leaving no written works, we rely extensively on the writings of his pupil, philosophical heavyweight Plato (Honderich, 2005).

Perhaps Socrates’ most significant legacy is his contribution to the art of conversation, known as Socratic questioning. Rather than the teacher filling the mind of the student, both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward and uncovering truths (Raphael & Monk, 2003).

And yet, what could a 2500-year old approach to inquiry add to the toolkit of the teacher, psychotherapist, and coach?

Well, it turns out, quite a lot.

In this article, we explore the definition of Socratic questioning and how we apply it in education, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and coaching. We then identify techniques, examples of good questions, and exercises that promote better, more productive dialogue.

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains

Socratic questioning defined, what is socratic questioning in cbt and therapy, how to do socratic questioning, 15 examples of socratic questioning, using socratic questioning in coaching, applications in the classroom: 2 examples, 3 helpful techniques, 4 exercises and worksheets for your sessions, 5 best books on the topic, a take-home message, frequently asked questions.

Many of us fail to recognize questioning as a skill. And yet, whether in education or therapy, vague, purposeless questions have a rather aimless quality, wasting time and failing to elicit useful information (Neenan, 2008).

The Socratic method, often described as the cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) , solves this inadequacy by asking a series of focused, open-ended questions that encourage reflection (Clark & Egan, 2015). By surfacing knowledge that was previously outside of our awareness, the technique produces insightful perspectives and helps identify positive actions.

“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.”

Socratic questioning involves a disciplined and thoughtful dialogue between two or more people. It is widely used in teaching and counseling to expose and unravel deeply held values and beliefs that frame and support what we think and say.

By using a series of focused yet open questions, we can unpack our beliefs and those of others.

In education, we can remove, albeit temporarily, the idea of the ‘sage on the stage.’ Instead, the teacher plays dumb, acting as though ignorant of the subject. The student, rather than remaining passive, actively helps push the dialogue forward.

Rather than teaching in the conventional sense, there is no lesson plan and often no pre-defined goal; the dialogue can take its path, remaining open ended between teacher and student.

The Socratic method is used in coaching, with, or without, a clear goal in mind, to probe our deepest thoughts. A predetermined goal is useful when there are time pressures but can leave the client feeling that the coach has their own agenda or nothing to learn from the discussion (Neenan, 2008).

In guided discovery , the absence of a clear goal leads to questions such as “ can you be made to feel inferior by someone else’s laughter?”  asked with genuine curiosity. Here, the coach gently encourages the client to look at the bigger picture and see other options for tackling an issue.

Ultimately, both approaches have the goal of changing minds. One is coach led, and the other is client led; the coach or therapist may need to move on a continuum between the two.

How to do socratic questioning

Indeed, in CBT, where the focus is on modifying thinking to facilitate emotional and behavioral change, the technique is recognized as helping clients define problems, identify the impact of their beliefs and thoughts, and examine the meaning of events (Beck & Dozois, 2011).

The use of the Socratic method by CBT therapists helps clients become aware of and modify processes that perpetuate their difficulties. The subsequent shift in perspective and the accompanying reevaluation of information and thoughts can be hugely beneficial.

It replaces the didactic, or teaching-based, approach and promotes the value of reflective questioning. Indeed, several controlled trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in dealing with a wide variety of psychological disorders.

While there is no universally accepted definition of the Socratic method in CBT, it can be seen as an umbrella term for using questioning to “ clarify meaning, elicit emotion and consequences, as well as to gradually create insight or explore alternative action ” (James, Morse, & Howarth, 2010).

It is important to note that the approach, when used in CBT, must remain non-confrontational and instead guide discovery, in an open, interested manner, leading to enlightenment and insight (Clark & Egan, 2015).

You will find that Socratic questions usually have the following attributes (modified from Neenan, 2008):

Above all else, it is essential to remember that Socratic questioning should be confusion-free.

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A fruitful dialogue using Socratic questioning is a shared one, between teachers and students or therapists and clients.

Each participant must actively participate and take responsibility for moving the discussion forward.

The best environment, according to professor Rob Reich, is one of ‘productive discomfort,’ but in the absence of fear and panic (Reis, 2003).

There should be no opponents and no one playing ‘devil’s advocate’ or testing the other.

Instead, it is best to remain open minded and prepared to both listen and learn.

Some guidance is suggested to perform Socratic questioning effectively.

For a student or client, it is useful to understand what is expected.

To be the ideal companion for Socratic questioning, you need to be genuinely curious, willing to take the time and energy to unpack beliefs, and able to logically and dispassionately review contradictions and inconsistencies.

When used effectively, Socratic questioning is a compelling technique for exploring issues, ideas, emotions, and thoughts. It allows misconceptions to be addressed and analyzed at a deeper level than routine questioning.

You will need to use several types of questions to engage and elicit a detailed understanding.

Students and clients should be encouraged to use the technique on themselves to extend and reinforce the effect of Socratic questioning and promote more profound levels of understanding.

Coaching is “ the art of facilitating the performance, learning, and development of another” (Downey, 2003). To reach a deeper understanding of a client’s goals, core values , and impediments to change, a coach must elicit information that is relevant, insightful, and ultimately valuable.

And yet, not all questions are equally useful in coaching.

Vague or aimless questions are costly in terms of time and will erode the client’s confidence in the coaching process (Neenan, 2008).

Asking open-ended questions helps clients reflect and generate knowledge of which they may have previously been unaware. Such insights result in clients reaching new or more balanced perspectives and identifying actions to overcome difficulties.

Coaches should avoid becoming ‘stuck’ entirely in the Socratic mode. Complete reliance on Socratic questions will lead to robotic and predictable sessions. Indeed, at times, the therapist may require closed questions to push a point and offer some direction (Neenan, 2008).

Socratic questioning in the classroom

The student is asked to account for themselves, rather than recite facts, including their motivations and bias upon which their views are based.

Discussion is less about facts or what others think about the facts, and more about what the student concludes about them. The underlying beliefs of each participant in the conversation are under review rather than abstract propositions.

And according to science, it works very well. Research has confirmed that Socratic questioning provides students with positive support in enhancing critical thinking skills (Chew, Lin, & Chen, 2019).

1. Socratic circles

Socratic circles can be particularly useful for gaining an in-depth understanding of a specific text or examine the questioning technique itself and the abilities of the group using it:

  • Students are asked to read a chosen text or passage.
  • Guidance is given to analyze it and take notes.
  • Students are arranged in two circles – an inner one and an outer one.
  • The inner circle is told to read and discuss the text with one another for the next 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, the outer circle is told to remain silent and observe the inner circle’s discussion.
  • Once completed, the outer circle is given a further 10 minutes to evaluate the inner circle’s dialogue and provide feedback.
  • The inner circle listens and takes notes.
  • Later the roles of the inner and outer circles are reversed.

Observing the Socratic method can provide a valuable opportunity to learn about the process of questioning.

2. Socratic seminars

Socratic seminars are the true embodiment of Socrates’ belief in the power of good questioning.

  • The teacher uses Socratic questions to engage discussion around a targeted learning goal, often a text that invites authentic inquiry.
  • Guidelines are provided to the students to agree to fair participation, including example questions and behaviors for thinking, interacting, and listening within the group.
  • Learning is promoted by encouraging critical analysis and reasoning to find deep answers to questions.
  • The teacher may define some initial open-ended questions but does not adopt the role of a leader.
  • Once over, a review of the techniques and the group’s effectiveness at using them should be performed and learnings fed into future seminars.

It takes time to learn and use the Socratic method effectively and should be considered a necessary part of the group’s overall journey.

1. The five Ws

At times we all need pointers regarding the questions to ask. The misleadingly named  five Ws – who, what, when, where, why, and how – are widely used for basic information gathering, from journalism to policing.

The five Ws (and an H) provide a useful set of open questions, inviting the listener to answer and elaborate on the facts.

2. Socratic method steps

Simply stated, Socratic questioning follows the steps below.

  • Understand the belief. Ask the person to state clearly their belief/argument.
  • Sum up the person’s argument. Play back what they said to clarify your understanding of their position.
  • Upon what assumption is this belief based?
  • What evidence is there to support this argument?
  • Challenge their assumptions. If contradictions, inconsistencies, exceptions, or counterexamples are identified, then ask the person to either disregard the belief or restate it more precisely.
  • Repeat the process again, if required. Until both parties accept the restated belief, the process is repeated.

The order may not always proceed as above. However, the steps provide an insight into how the questioning could proceed. Repeat the process to drill down into the core of an issue, thought, or belief.

3. Best friend role-play

Ask the client to talk to you as though they were discussing similar experiences to a friend (or someone else they care about.)

People are often better at arguing against their negative thinking when they are talking to someone they care about.

For example, “ Your best friend tells you that they are upset by a difficult conversation or situation they find themselves in. What would you tell them? Talk to me as though I am that person .”

1. Socratic question types

The Socratic method relies on a variety of question types to provide the most complete and correct information for exploring issues, ideas, emotions, and thoughts.

Use a mixture of the following question types for the most successful engagement.

2. Cognitive restructuring

Ask readers to consider and record answers to several Socratic questions to help challenge their irrational thoughts.

3. Life coaching questions

Refer to the 100 Most Powerful Life Coaching Questions on our blog for in-depth examples of open-ended questions for use as a coach.

4. Art of Socratic questioning checklist

While observing others leading Socratic discussions, use this questioning checklist to capture thoughts and provide feedback.

To learn more about Socratic questioning and good questioning in general, check out these five books available on Amazon:

  • The Socratic Method of Psychotherapy – James Overholser ( Amazon )
  • The Thinker’s Guide to Socratic Questioning – Richard Paul and Linda Elder ( Amazon )
  • Thinking Through Quality Questioning: Deepening Student Engagement – Elizabeth D. Sattes and Jackie A. Walsh ( Amazon )
  • Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring – Natalie Lancer, David Clutterbuck, and David Megginson  ( Amazon )
  • The Art of Interactive Teaching: Listening, Responding, Questioning – Selma Wassermann ( Amazon )

Socratic questioning provides a potent method for examining ideas logically and determining their validity.

Used successfully, it challenges (possibly incorrect) assumptions and misunderstandings, allowing you to revisit and revise what you think and say.

However, like any tool, it is only as good as the person who uses it.

Socratic questioning requires an absence of ego and a level playing field for all who take part. If you are willing to use logical, open questions without a fixed plan, and are prepared to practice, the technique is an effective way of exploring ideas in depth.

The theory, techniques, and exercises we shared will help you to push the boundaries of understanding, often into uncharted waters, and unravel and explore assumptions and misunderstandings behind our thoughts.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .

Socratic questioning is a method of inquiry that seeks to explore complex ideas, concepts, and beliefs by asking questions that challenge assumptions, clarify meaning, and reveal underlying principles.

The five Socratic questions are:

  • What do you mean by that?
  • How do you know?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What are the consequences of that?
  • What is the counterargument?

The Socratic method is a form of inquiry that involves asking questions to stimulate critical thinking and expose the contradictions in one’s own beliefs.

The method involves a dialogue between two or more people in which the participants seek to understand each other’s beliefs and uncover the truth through a process of questioning and examination.

  • Beck, A. T., & Dozois, D. J. (2011). Cognitive therapy: Current status and future directions. Annual Review of Medicine, 62 , 397–409.
  • Chew, S. W., Lin, I. H., & Chen, N. S. (2019). Using Socratic questioning strategy to enhance critical thinking skills of elementary school students. Paper presented at the 2019 IEEE 19th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), Maceió, Brazil.
  • Clark, G. I., & Egan, S. J . (2015). The Socratic method in cognitive behavioural therapy: A narrative review. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 39 (6), 863–879.
  • Downey, M. (2003). Effective coaching: Lessons from the coach’s coach (2nd ed.). Thomson/ Texere.
  • Honderich, T. (2005). The Oxford companion to philosophy. Oxford University Press.
  • James, I. A., Morse, R., & Howarth, A. (2010). The science and art of asking questions in cognitive therapy. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 38 (1), 83–93.
  • Lancer, N., Clutterbuck, D., & Megginson, D. (2016).  Techniques for coaching and mentoring  (2nd ed.). Routledge.
  • Neenan, M. (2008). Using Socratic questioning in coaching. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 27 (4), 249–264.
  • Overholser, J. (2018).  The Socratic method of psychotherapy . Columbia University Press.
  • Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2016).  The thinker’s guide to the art of Socratic questioning.  The Foundation for Critical Thinking.
  • Raphael, F., & Monk, R. (2003). The great philosophers. Routledge.
  • Reis, R. (2003). The Socratic method: What it is and how to use it in the classroom. Tomorrow’s Professor Postings. Retrieved June 10, 2020, from
  • Walsh, J. A., & Sattes, E. D. (2011). Thinking through quality questioning: Deepening student engagement (1st ed.). Corwin.
  • Wasserman, S. (2017). The art of interactive teaching: Listening, responding, questioning (1st ed.). Routledge.

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How To Use the Socratic Method To Write an Essay

The Socratic method is often equated with legal education. The reason is simple: this approach is often used by law professors to discover and train qualified individuals. The essence of the Socratic method is that the student comes to certain conclusions independently and uses his own critical thinking skills as much as possible.

Socratic dialogue involves formulating a series of targeted, but open questions. They contribute to the work of thinking, the concentration of attention, and an adequate assessment of the current discussion and one's own role in it. These questions should supersede any attempt at asserting the truth, since it is through them that the interlocutor himself comes to the necessary understanding of things, creating the truth himself. In college and university courses that involve the Socratic method, professors act as a questioner and the student as the answerer. The main goal is that a series of continuous questions on a specific topic will help students express their doubts and find the truth on their own.

How the Socratic Method Applies to Your Essay

After considering the primary purpose of such a method, we should learn how to apply it to academic writing. One of the basic points is contradictions - when composing an assignment using the Socratic method, one approach might be to resolve contradictions through a similar style of discussing questions in the form of conversation or dialogue. Another way is to compare two sides of the subject and contrast them.

However, we know that the Socratic method as an educational technique is restricted to discussions and debates, so there is no ideal format to write an essay. But the main goal remains the same: you should present the paperwork that reflects the essence of the Socratic method. Without further ado, let's jump into this and define two key steps of writing an essay by implementing such a concept.

#1. Select One or Two Aspects To Discuss

When remembering the wideness of the Socratic method, you should carefully choose a topic to discuss. Generally, students from colleges and universities select topics that are controversial enough or causes controversy among most people. But with hindsight, you have to develop a plan for your essay (especially if you choose an exploratory or comparison and contrast format). You have to ask yourself the following questions.

  • Can I attract the reader's attention with my topic?
  • If I review both sides of the issue, do I find enough reliable resources to defend each point?
  • Have these problems been researched earlier, and can I use articles and dissertations as proofs?
  • Is the issue extensive enough to be discussed in terms of the Socratic method?
  • Will I reach a dead end when trying to discuss either phenomenon?

#2. Consider the Paper's Format

As mentioned above, the Socratic method implementation in the academic paperwork is rare enough. However, it is a more common thing in the educational environment and the debating tool. Therefore, you are just making assumptions, regardless of the type of academic writing you choose.

This format may be challenging to implement into a written assignment. However, it is an approach to present your point of view using the Socratic questioning style. Here are our guidelines for writing an essay using the debate format:

  • Debates may be presented in body paragraphs
  • The introductory part can save its initial purpose and present the subject to the audience and create the ground for the further dialogue
  • A small discussion part would be the next after the debate and show a quick analysis of how the discussion revealed the critical thinking skills of each interlocutor based on the Socratic method
  • A concluding section reiterates critical points from the introduction and the discussion and provides some final words about the end result of the debate. Besides, the writer should describe the gains from using the Socratic questioning style.

Exploratory Writing

The exploratory format is a type of assignment where the student has to explore a particular phenomenon. A distinctive feature of such a type of writing is taking the audience through the entire exploration process that the student experienced. For example, the writer looks for a piece of relevant information and simultaneously explains to the reader why he prefer to pick the paricular resources. Moreover, the writer can use this writing template to implement unique strategies of Socratic questioning. One of them is 'a lonely debate' when you have to argue a topic in the form of several questions. In this case, you still use the Socratic method but write an essay in the form of a dialogue. It makes exploratory writing more like a personal essay.

Compare and Contrast Formatting

Such an approach to the Socratic method implementation may be straightforward for most writers. The reason is simple: the comparison and contrast essay is common in academic writing. As the name implies, this paperwork is used to compare two or more phenomena. When preparing such an assignment, you must use point-by-point formatting (i.e., provide the block with opinions in order. Each point is seen as a unique item for further comparison and contrast in the Socratic questioning. Using the block method, students have to fully claim or debate one side of the phenomenon by asking a series of questions and following them with arguments on the other issue side. In the end, you should add a conclusion or discussion part that ties both thoughts and chooses a 'winning' side. Thus, students need to explain why one opinion seems more convincing than the other.

Let's sum it all up. The Socratic method helps to improve the writer's critical skills, which are crucial for the writing and ability to refine a topic extensively until the answers to the main questions are obvious. And implementing such an excellent training instrument can also encourage each student to review the common suggestions on the chosen subject and provide some clear concepts related to a specific topic. However, someone can state that this goal can be reached by other means that do not involve Socratic dialogue or exploratory format. Moreover, it may seem to be true, since some students perceive such approaches with caution and do not want to take part in them. In any case, you will definitely benefit from such an effective strategy.

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Home — Essay Samples — Philosophy — Plato — Socratic Method of Elenchus in Plato’s Five Dialogs

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Free Socratic Dialogue Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Pregnancy , Abortion , Social Issues , Morality , Actions , Ethics , Daedalus And Icarus , Socrates

Published: 2021/02/10

My ethical beliefs strongly oppose the legalization of abortion. The benefits associated with banning abortion outweigh the disadvantages. Abortion compounds tragedy, and it should be avoided at all costs. Situations like rape and unplanned pregnancies are not enough to support the legalization of this vice. For instance, conducting an abortion because a woman was raped might lead to health complications in the future. People should learn that two wrongs never make a right. Abortion also jeopardizes the lives of the unborn, and this violates civil rights. Supporting abortion is punishing the lives of innocent beings by depriving them the right to live. I believe that abortion causes new problems because it does not consider the long-term effects. To me, abortion is an inhumane act that should be eradicated in the society. Our ethical beliefs fail to support actions that aim at eroding the cultural values in the society.

Icarus: Good morning Socrates Socrates: Good morning Icarus, how are you doing? Icarus: I am a little confused friend. I am struggling with a query. Do you have faith that abortion is moral?

Socrates: The question is very critical but if you have time we can try to sightsee it.

Icarus: Yes, I am in no hurry. So where is our starting point? Socrates: We cannot establish a consensus if first we do not understand what is considered moral. We must have a measure that determines a moral and immoral action. With this in mind, it will be easier to resolve where abortion is moral or immoral.

Icarus: so which is the best way to decide if abortion is moral or immoral?

Socrates: Let’s imagine a scenario like this. When an individual acts in unswervingly, rationally, and logically in a way to express love, is this considered to be an action or a moral action?

Icarus: when love is solidly and constantly applied, it results in moral actions

Socrates: That is a reasonably working answer that can really help us in determining whether abortion is a moral action. Icarus: Yes. We can start from there Socrates: so are you in a position to explain to me what abortion means to you? Icarus: Abortion is the action of eliminating or compelling out the womb of a fetus or embryo at a time in which it is unable to survive alone.

Socrates: Is the action of terminating a pregnancy considered a violent action?

Icarus: Yes, abortion is a violent action. A person who practices it denies love to the offspring by taking an action on abortion. Murder should be condemned at all costs. Socrates: what do you think of a situation where a person is in a critical condition that forces her to commit abortion so that she can save her life? Will such an action considered to be morally upright? Icarus: To me this is a dilemma. To show love, everything must be done to protect the life of both beings

Socrates: The problem is that people have not settled on when life begins and these present problems.

Icarus: Yes, that is a very strange situation. To me, life begins at conception, and this makes the mother and the fetus important Socrates: This is a moral dilemma but when you consider the actions of love is a moral action; abortion is immoral and should not be legalized. Icarus: Thank you Socrates for your help. I have learned a lot from the dialog. Socrates: You are welcomed Icarus. Let’s hope that the authorities will implement moral laws that will safeguard the moral actions within the society.

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The Moral Bankruptcy of Faith

(a modern example of socratic dialogue), by max maxwell.

Due to requests from educators around the world: a PDF file with special distribution permissions is available. GET THE PDF

This dialogue is an example of the Socratic method applied to a modern topic. In this Socratic Dialogue, a Christian preacher states the often claimed idea that atheists cannot be moral because faith in God is the basis of morality. The Socratic Method is used to question this idea in a way that demonstrates it is not religious faith, but secular knowledge that is needed in order to carry out moral deeds and to interpret moral principles.

It is important to remember that this written dialogue is much more tidy and succinct than the real conversations. The written dialogue goes from one question to the next immediately, but in real life a 30 minute conversation may have been necessary to get to the next question. The written dialogue here merely illustrates the typical outcome, but not the exact path that might be taken in any particular live conversation to that outcome. Different conversations on this topic would have different questions. It all depends on the responses of the participant.

This dialogue uses the name of Socrates as the questioner. This is not intended to imply that the historical Socrates or Plato would have agreed with my writing. It is merely a self amusing historical convention that I used. However, I did make an attempt to portray the dialogical character of Socrates as I found him in my own reading of Plato.

This dialogue is not intended as an attack on faith, nor is it in any way an argument in favor of atheism. This dialogue is merely a plea for the use of common sense, and the sharing of common ground, when speaking about morality. With regard to the Socratic method, this dialogue demonstrates the ability to use the "scope of application" of a field of knowledge in a Socratic conversation. If we really know something, we should be accountable to explain how that knowledge is applied. It also demonstrates the usefulness of the "one example technique" to further a Socratic questioning process. The one example technique allows an idea or definition to stand or fall on the basis of finding one example that is able to stand up to further examination. This dialogue will be integrated into the essay, "The Fundamentals of Education: PART V". The commentary discussing how to use this type of dialogue for different subjects will be added at that time. The actual dialogue below will remain the same.

I have asked the questions in the dialogue below in real conversations. Although the verbal maneuvering of the respondents vary tremendously, the end result is the same as the dialogue you read below.  That end result is the inability of religious persons to give one example of faith being able to carry out moral deeds or interpret moral principles without the absolutely necessary assistance of ordinary, secular, human knowledge. The implications of this speak for themselves.

Preacher: An atheist cannot be a moral person. Without faith in God, no human being can be moral at all. You must first have faith in God in order to have any capacity for morality. Faith in God is the only true basis of morality.

Socrates: It sounds like being an atheist is an unfortunate state of being.

Preacher: The atheists are most unfortunate Socrates.

Socrates: Sadly, I am more unfortunate than the atheists. I do not even understand the nature of morality. Thus, I could not tell you whether or not you need to first believe in the gods in order to be moral. So I ask you to help me and teach me something important.

Preacher: Of course, Socrates. That is why I am here.

Socrates: Thank you my good friend. I would like you to answer a question. What is morality?

Preacher: Morality is the expression of human behavior that is based on the knowledge of right and wrong.

Socrates: And one must believe in the gods in order to know what is right and wrong?

Preacher: Exactly. It is the knowledge of God, which comes through faith that gives us the ability to know right and wrong. And Socrates, there are no gods. There is only the one almighty God who created all things and redeems us through his son Jesus Christ.

Socrates: I am afraid I have never been very good at understanding all the amazing stories about all the different gods. I must admit that I am very excited about the idea that knowing your God will also give me the knowledge of right and wrong. But there is just one thing I would like to understand, if you could instruct me.

Preacher: What is your question?

Socrates: You say that knowing God will give me the knowledge of right and wrong.

Preacher: Yes.

Socrates: In what area of life will the believer know right and wrong.

Preacher: The knowledge of God permeates our whole being in every aspect of our lives.

Socrates: By the gods, dear preacher! I declare that nothing could be more useful than to learn right and wrong from a deity who knows! Will the knowledge of God help me know right and wrong pertaining to the calculation of the sums of numbers?

Preacher: No.

Socrates: Will the knowledge of God give me the knowledge of right and wrong with regard to the practice of medicine?

Socrates: How about right and wrong regarding the architectural design of buildings?

Preacher: No. Morality is not about this kind of right and wrong.

Socrates: Then the knowledge of God does not give us the knowledge of all right and wrong. It just gives us the knowledge of a particular kind of right and wrong that you refer to as moral.

Preacher: That is correct.

Socrates: It seems that we have not defined morality yet and I need to ask my first question again. What is morality? Please have mercy on my stubborn ignorance and define it in a way that does not exceed the scope of its application.

Preacher: Morality is about right and wrong regarding the treatment of other human beings.

Socrates: And does this moral and right treatment serve to benefit a person or does it hurt them?

Preacher: Moral behavior always serves to the benefit of humanity.

Socrates: Then this moral knowledge from God is expressed in behavior that benefits people?

Socrates: Who would know more about the beneficial treatment of people who need a cure for their sickness? Is it the believer in God or a doctor?

Preacher: A doctor, although healing is sometimes possible through prayer.

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How to Argue Using the Socratic Method

Last Updated: November 22, 2022 References Approved

This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff . Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 82% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 247,268 times. Learn more...

You can use the Socratic method to show someone that they are wrong, or at least imprecise, by getting them to agree with statements that contradict their original assertion. Socrates believed that the first step to knowledge was recognition of one's ignorance. Accordingly, this method focuses not so much on proving your point but on disproving the other person's point with a series of questions ( elenchus ), resulting in their aporia (puzzlement). Law schools use this method to teach students critical thinking skills. It is also popular in psychotherapy, management training, and in other classrooms.

Asking Questions

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 1

  • If you don’t understand what someone is arguing, ask them to clarify their beliefs. You can ask, “I don’t understand. What are you trying to say?” or “Could you restate that?” [2] X Research source

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 2

  • “Why do you believe that is true?”
  • “Please explain your reasoning.”
  • “What has lead you to that belief?”

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 3

  • For example, someone might say you should give away money because having too much money makes you greedy. This person is assuming someone doesn’t spend all of their available money on necessities.
  • You can say, “But are you assuming people have money to give away after buying necessities? Is it best for these people to give their money away?”

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 4

  • The person who wants your money is a drug addict. Ask your opponent, “Should I give my money away to someone who wants to buy drugs?” If the person says no, then follow up and ask why, which will help you tease out the other person’s thinking.
  • You must provide food and shelter. Formulate this as a question: “Should I give away all my money when my elderly mum is dependent on me?”

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 5

  • You should continue this process until you can’t invalidate the statement any more. [7] X Research source

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 7

  • If the other person starts to get flustered, you can say, “I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate” or “I’m trying to understand all sides of your thinking.”
  • You might enjoy the other person’s confusion a little too much. Try not to gloat. Remind yourself that Socrates didn’t have answers for every question he asked, which is typical of an exchange using the Socratic method.

Surviving a Socratic Interrogation

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 8

  • It’s best to think of the Socratic questioning as a dialogue between you and your professor. Block out the other students listening in.

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 10

  • If you’re in law school, you should know the facts of the case and the court’s holding. However, apart from the facts, there are rarely “right” or “wrong” answers. Try to get into the spirit of the questioning by understanding its purpose: not to find the right answer, but to understand what you truly think.

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 11

  • At the same time, strive to be as brief as possible. There’s no reason to give a long-winded answer if one isn’t required.

Image titled Argue Using the Socratic Method Step 12

  • Remember that the Socratic method is something you can use with yourself throughout your life. You should constantly interrogate what you think is true.

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To argue using the Socratic method, start by asking questions to make sure you understand what the other person is claiming, then ask for evidence to support their claims. Next, challenge their assumptions by focusing on the ideas that aren’t supported by evidence. You can also find exceptions, like a set of circumstances in which the person’s statement would be false. Once you uncover the gaps in the person’s argument, ask them to reformulate their claim to account for the exceptions and unsupported claims. To learn how to respond to a Socratic interrogation, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How Socratic Dialogue Differs From Other Conversations Essay

Dialectic is a practice that involves a logical examination of ideas or opinions to determine the latter’s validity through questions and answers. It is a philosophical method of argument that encompasses a contradictory process between opposing parties or sides (Mitchell, 2019). The involved parties have opposing viewpoints about a given issue and the interplay leads to a greater truth. Socratic dialogue is an example of dialectic, which differs significantly from other conversations.

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Socratic dialogue differs from other conversations since it does not emphasize winning and losing. According to Mitchell (2019), the involved parties focus their efforts on understanding each other and engaging in a common enterprise. Socratic dialogue accentuates the significance of conversation as a shared undertaking. Conversely, different conversations, such as discussions and arguments, comprise two or more positions that are believed to be conflicting. The main objective is to convince the other and win. Involved parties stand firm with their viewpoints and do not consider the conversation a common approach to a better understanding.

Socratic dialogue encourages the pursuance of different opinions and accommodates criticism. The involved parties acknowledge that individuals are bound to have varying viewpoints regarding a particular issue (Mitchell, 2019). Equally, they welcome criticism from those who may have contradicting perspectives, believing that the latter can enhance their understanding. Conversely, other forms of conversation do not pursue differing opinions at all, and proponents tend to say that every individual is entitled to their ideas or views (Mitchell, 2019). Examples of such conversations occur in seminars where individuals do not challenge each other’s arguments and positions. People are also determined, for often good reasons, not to offend in other dialogues, silencing the need for criticism. Therefore, Socratic dialogue emphasizes reconciliation, mutual agreement, and understanding between the involved parties.

Individuals can use Socratic methods to examine beliefs about freedom and happiness. For example, freedom is good to many people who claim to know what it is. Some questions that can be used to examine this belief about freedom are: What is freedom? Does it have limitations? How good is freedom? Is absolute freedom achievable? Who gives freedom? Equally, most people believe that they can achieve happiness by doing good. People can examine this belief by asking such questions as: What is happiness? What do people do to be happy? Do all good actions guarantee happiness?

The Meno and the Republic differentiate between knowledge and opinion for Socrates. In the Meno, Socrates indicates that true opinion refers to people’s correct belief about something (Mitchell, 2019). That opinion is helpful in an individual’s life but not for long since it is bound to depart from the mind. True opinions are of less great value because they are not fastened with reasons. For example, a person may believe that their answer to a particular question is correct, which is just an opinion if no justification is provided. Therefore, accurate opinions can be questioned regardless of their usefulness. Conversely, knowledge is the true opinion backed or fastened with reasons. Unlike the true opinion, knowledge is permanent and cannot be questioned. Socrates referred to the process of securing the true opinion in mind as recollection, making knowledge finer and better than the latter (Mitchell, 2019). Thus, persons who know can support their opinions by giving justifications.

Socrates’ distinction between opinion and knowledge in the Republic is more complicated than in the Meno . Opinion and knowledge are considered two different powers, indicating that they must have varying objects (Mitchell, 2019). Opinions are what people can believe or say about objects only in a qualified sense. However, the objects may be between what is true and what is not. On the other hand, knowledge relates to reality and is more stable and permanent. Knowledge is an everlasting, unchanging, absolute reality that is grasped through pure understanding, not senses.

Human beings cannot ever know the truth for certain because there are no definite means of confirming what people already know is accurate beyond any questionable doubt. People claim their knowledge is acquired through experience or learning to be the truth. However, everything in the world is dynamic, and humans perpetually explore new knowledge to better understand all factors that relate to them and their environment. Therefore, what may be the truth today may be disputed in the future as new information emerges. Equally, people have varying opinions about objects and take different routes to justify their beliefs. Thus, what one may be considered to be the truth is likely to be not to another.

It is challenging to attain perfect wisdom about the kinds of ideas explored by philosophers because they are complicated. Unlike wisdom, which is primarily based on assumptions, the general public has about objects and their environment, and philosophical ideas explore deeper into even what people think and believe is true. Therefore, people’s understanding of the kinds of ideas philosophers investigate is bound to have flaws.

Mitchell, H. (2019). Roots of wisdom: A tapestry of philosophical traditions (8th Ed.). Cengage Learning.

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Socratic Dialogue - Essay Example

Socratic Dialogue

  • Subject: Philosophy
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Nature of justice in the soul and state, art of living: a response to nehamas, the analysis of the novel ishmael, textual analysis, part 1 of the document gaudium et spes, plato's symposium and phaedrus, platos dialogue and the socrates' argument.

socratic dialogue essay example


Socratic dialogue topics. (DOC) Socratic Dialogue: Does Man Have Free Will? 2022-11-05

Socratic dialogue, also known as the Socratic method, is a way of questioning and discussing ideas that was developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. It is a method of inquiry that aims to stimulate critical thinking and expose the contradictions or weaknesses in a person's beliefs.

One topic that could be explored through Socratic dialogue is the concept of justice. This could involve questioning the definition of justice and examining different ways in which it can be applied. For example, what is considered just in one society may not be considered just in another, and the consequences of actions that are deemed just or unjust can vary widely. Through questioning and discussion, the participants in a Socratic dialogue could explore the various factors that influence our understanding of justice and consider how it can be more fairly applied in different situations.

Another topic that could be examined through Socratic dialogue is the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired. This could involve questioning the sources and reliability of information, as well as examining the role of personal experience and intuition in acquiring knowledge. Participants might also consider the limitations of human understanding and the ways in which our understanding of the world is shaped by our preconceptions and biases.

Socratic dialogue could also be used to explore ethical questions, such as what makes an action right or wrong. Participants might consider the role of personal values and moral principles in determining what is ethical, as well as the cultural and social contexts that shape our understanding of ethics.

Overall, Socratic dialogue is a powerful tool for exploring complex and nuanced topics. It encourages critical thinking, helps to expose contradictions and weaknesses in our beliefs, and allows us to consider alternative viewpoints and perspectives. Whether used to examine philosophical, ethical, or social issues, Socratic dialogue can help us to better understand the world around us and make more informed decisions.

Socratic dialogue Essays

Here is what happens that shows this signpost. At the end of each seminar, students reflect in writing about the new knowledge they gained during the seminar, as well as their own performance. The underlying beliefs of each participant in the conversation are under review rather than abstract propositions. Retrieved from Aquinas, T. Here, the coach gently encourages the client to look at the bigger picture and see other options for tackling an issue.

CONVERSATIONS with CLASS ~ Introducing Socratic Dialogue to Younger Scholars

socratic dialogue topics

When an individual acts in unswervingly, rationally, and logically in a way to express love, is this considered to be an action or a moral action? Thinking through quality questioning: Deepening student engagement 1st ed. The Giver by Lois Lowry Is it ever justified to break a law? The white man spent a lot of effort taking the Indian out of the Indian. The first two lines show each person's uncertainty about love and how the emotion could be defined. Tony: Let me think. Every participant gives his or her ideas regarding the universal question, and the whole group considers every point made in an allotted time frame. The theory, techniques, and exercises we shared will help you to push the boundaries of understanding, often into uncharted waters, and unravel and explore assumptions and misunderstandings behind our thoughts.

Socratic Questioning in Psychology: Examples and Techniques

I was going to be graduating, we wouldn't be able to spend as much time together, and you knew you would get jealous. Definition of Socratic Dialogue Thus, Socrates developed the Socratic dialogue, in which conversation is used to find the value and truth of individuals' opinions. And yet, what could a 2500-year old approach to inquiry add to the toolkit of the teacher, psychotherapist, and coach? As students became more controlled in their sharing and listening, we moved into informal dialogues. Examples of Socratic Dialogue To begin an exercise of Socratic dialogue, a group leader or facilitator directs group members to think about the answer to some universal question. Surely you get these nowhere as deeply or as often as in friendship.

Socratic Dialogue

socratic dialogue topics

Socratic dialogue has three distinctive levels. What about understanding and support? Instead, a variety of speakers have the opportunity to present their view on the topic of love; when they are done, Socrates speaks Pecorino. A question of this kind is best answered by the Socratic Method, an admirable arrangement whereby you call yourself "Philosopher" and your opponent, who has no will of his own, "Man in the Street" or "Thrasymachus. As she made her way toward the stairs and away from the brooding purgatory that is the HUB name of cafeteria , shutting off the lights behind her like a row of fluorescent dominoes, the clock on the wall read "10:45. It was so deftly done that she had sometimes to temper her admiration by reminding herself that it was all directed by the profit motive. There is perhaps nothing more compelling to us than our lives have real meaning and we are not simply an evolutionary mistake. United Behavioral Health is dedicated to presenting customers with high quality, cost-effective, managed mental health and substance abuse services to its customers.

Analysis Of Socratic Dialogues By Plato: [Essay Example], 1471 words GradesFixer

socratic dialogue topics

This recurrent theme is no accident: most cultures have, as a basis for their creation mythos, a utopian view of either the pre-human world or the post-human world. . This dialogue begins with a universal question, or rather a question that causes critical thinking and doesn't necessarily have a right or wrong answer, but rather a thought-provoking one. On the other hand, his concept of 'banking' is extremely relevant across the entire domain, from different points-of-view. . Journal of Managerial Issues.

Socratic Seminars: Making Meaningful Dialogue

socratic dialogue topics

A: So, in… This recurrent theme is no accident: most cultures have, as a basis for their creation mythos, a utopian view of either the pre-human world or the post-human world. First of all, such a concept implies the idea that the educational process allows the formation in its entirety of an individual, from the youngest stages of his life. The Socratic dialogue is when conversation is used to find the value and truth of individuals' opinions. Icarus: so which is the best way to decide if abortion is moral or immoral? When students get over their initial surprise and begin to consider it as a serious proposal, they consider all kinds of scenarios and possibilities. Criticizing these texts contextual for their content will help the reader have intelligent and knowledgeable interpretation of the stories.

Examples of Socratic Dialogue

socratic dialogue topics

However, the author is deliberately ambiguous as to whether or not Yunior achieves his objective, by composing the narrative as a set of directives that do not include a definite "ending" in the sense that most short stories have. No one would either ask or answer such a question in modern times. In Socratic dialogue, anyone can learn how to seek an answer to a universal question, such as ''What is love? Lesson Summary The Socratic dialogue was developed by Socrates, a Greek philosopher who spent his life on a quest for truth and knowledge. The objective of this is to think critically and to make the idea more detailed, clear and crisp. If this country is truly multicultural, why suppress my culture? Answer clearly and succinctly. Hell is other people, says the author. Rochelle wasn't hanging all over… The play was the thing wherein I caught the conscience of the king -- that means I knew he was guilty.

Socratic Dialogue Definition and Examples

socratic dialogue topics

What are the long-term implications of this? An aspect that firmly relates to the way in which the "Republic" is constructed and that uses the arguments on the ideal state is related to the role the state may have in providing its citizens here, the term "citizen" must be understood as… Bibliography Benjamin Jowett, trans. Apollodorus The beginning pages are full of banter between Apollodorus and his Companion. Icarus: Thank you Socrates for your help. Katula, A Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric. Retrieved 5 December 2012. This fact is certainly suggested by the title of this narrative, and is one of the central concerns of the protagonist, a young man only referred to as Yunior. You have made yourself an executioner, perhaps as mad with assurance of his deeds as were those first committed some wrong.

What is Socratic Dialogue — Definition, Examples & Uses

socratic dialogue topics

Many ask what should the government do to address this problem, others say the government has done enough, and more federal intervention can only lead to more problems. Socratic question types The Socratic method relies on a variety of question types to provide the most complete and correct information for exploring issues, ideas, emotions, and thoughts. It seems as if the best way to view the concept of duty and actualization in "The Republic," is to see the virtues of courage, justice, moderation and wisdom as being the skills necessary to be a good citizen. But in the age of Socrates it was only by an effort that the mind could rise to a general notion of virtue as distinct from the particular virtues of courage, liberality, and the like. The Foundation for Critical Thinking.


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    Susan Koba and Anne Tweed describe Socratic dialogue as "the conversation that results from the Socratic method, a discussion process during which a facilitator promotes independent, reflective, and critical thinking " (Hard-to-Teach Biology Concepts, 2009). Examples and Observations

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    Scriptwriting What is Socratic Dialogue — Definition, Examples & Uses By Chris Heckmann on September 25, 2022 A Socratic dialogue is an excellent vehicle for individuals to explore the epistemological nature of ideas. But what is Socratic dialogue? And why is it an excellent vehicle for exploring epistemology?

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    EXAMPLE: If I'm going to teach a unit on the power of education to my 9th grade students, I can assign them: " Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison ," " The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass ," and " Village Schools and Traveling Soldiers .". 2. Prepare plenty of questions — Fill up the Tank. Just like when you ...

  5. Socratic Questioning in Psychology: Examples and Techniques

    "I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others." Socrates Socratic questioning involves a disciplined and thoughtful dialogue between two or more people.

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    #1. Select One or Two Aspects To Discuss When remembering the wideness of the Socratic method, you should carefully choose a topic to discuss. Generally, students from colleges and universities select topics that are controversial enough or causes controversy among most people.

  7. Dialogue and discussion: Reflections on a Socratic method

    The terms 'Socratic method' and 'Socratic dialogue' describe a wide variety of practices, ranging from ruthless questioning in Law Schools to critical thinking exercises with children. Yet, in this article, they denote a distinctive method that does not necessarily match other understandings of 'Socratic.'.

  8. Socratic dialogue

    v t e Socratic dialogue ( Ancient Greek: Σωκρατικὸς λόγος) is a genre of literary prose developed in Greece at the turn of the fourth century BC.

  9. Socratic method

    The Socratic method (also known as method of Elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate) is a form of argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions. It is named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates.In Plato's Theaetetus, Socrates describes his method as midwifery because it is employed to help his interlocutors develop their understanding ...

  10. Analysis of Socratic Dialogues by Plato

    Phaedo is the fourth and final dialogue Plato wrote depicting trial and the last days leading up to the execution of Plato's teacher, Socrates (469-399 B.C.E.). Socrates was sentenced to death by the state of Athens. It follows after his dialogues Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito. It contains the first extended discussion of the Theory of Forms.

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    The Socratic method of investigation, the elenchus, is explained by example in Plato's Five Dialogues. In Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, Plato's character of Socrates employs the elenchus as a way to challenge interlocutors. If an Athenian claims to be knowledgeable about a subject, Socrates sets out to prove that this knowledge is unfounded.

  13. Essay sample on "The Socratic Method"

    Examples of his dialogues were recorded and expounded on his Plato's works. Though Socrates may have come off as pretending not to know anything, through his wisdom and philosophical introspection, he understood that knowledge cannot be attained (Jarratt, Susan C.). Process

  14. Good Socratic Dialogue Essays

    Pregnancy Free Socratic Dialogue Essay Sample Type of paper: Essay Topic: Pregnancy, Abortion, Social Issues, Morality, Actions, Ethics, Daedalus And Icarus, Socrates Pages: 2 Words: 550 Published: 2021/02/10 Order now My ethical beliefs strongly oppose the legalization of abortion.

  15. Modern Socratic Method Example

    The Moral Bankruptcy of Faith (A Modern Example of Socratic Dialogue) by Max Maxwell PAGE 1 Due to requests from educators around the world: a PDF file with special distribution permissions is available. GET THE PDF This dialogue is an example of the Socratic method applied to a modern topic.

  16. Socratic Method Essay Examples

    Stuck on your essay? Browse essays about Socratic Method and find inspiration. Learn by example and become a better writer with Kibin's suite of essay help services.

  17. How to Argue Using the Socratic Method: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    Take a deep breath and then smile. [9] It's best to think of the Socratic questioning as a dialogue between you and your professor. Block out the other students listening in. 3. Answer questions honestly. The purpose of the Socratic method is to identify the contradictions and limitations in our own knowledge.

  18. Why Socratic Dialogue Differs Is Unique

    Socratic dialogue is an example of dialectic, which differs significantly from other conversations. Socratic dialogue differs from other conversations since it does not emphasize winning and losing. According to Mitchell (2019), the involved parties focus their efforts on understanding each other and engaging in a common enterprise.

  19. Understanding Dialectic and Socrates Dialogue (Essay Sample)

    Socratic dialogue supports shared dialogue in learning where the teacher and students push the dialogue, and there are questions and answers. For example, Socrates engaged in a conversation with a Greek slave boy lacking formal education and asked various questions. Through the approach, there are arguments presented through questions and answers.

  20. Socratic Dialogue Essay Example

    Socratic Dialogue - Essay Example. Add to wishlist Delete from wishlist. Cite this document Summary. This paper "Socratic Dialogue" concerns the conversation in the context of the philosophy between the three: a determinist, a compatibilist, and a libertarian. The paper discusses the Immanuel Kant's, Rene Descartes philosophy, the ...

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    When I read the Socratic dialogue and Common-Sense Religion, I was surprised by how the ideas of Plato (or, perhaps, Socrates) are echoed in our time. The All papers examples

  22. Socratic dialogue topics. Analysis Of ...

    Analysis Of Socratic Dialogues By Plato: [Essay Example], 1471 words GradesFixer. 2022-11-05 Socratic dialogue topics.This essay test ability recognize engag The concept of holiness is central to the Platonic dialogue that takes place between Euthyphro and Socrates in Euthyphro. Socratic dialogue topics.

  23. Essay Sample on Socratic Dialogue

    The queries raised depends on the morality and health aspects that need to be critically harnessed for better creation of good Socratic dialogue. The debate remains to hold a lot of arguments from philosophical, sociological, and cultural diversities that vary from one country to another.