Talk:Socratic method

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Replaced redirect with "socratic method" section from Socrates, a significatnly expanded and more on-topic version of what was once here before ALoan merged it with Socrates. more work and reorganization will be forthcoming. Heah 21:28, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Replaced and Increased content within HR, Training & Development and Lesson Planning for teachers:

HR & T&D: Increased readability of existing material Elaborated on the method itself, in terms of delivery and contextualised it with other methods of learning (case study).

Lesson Plan Elements: Added 'Planning' within lesson planning, Tidied up sentences, Clarified sentence a bit about 'discussions'.

Still more to do in this piece..... Metazeitgeist (talk) 15:29, 3 August 2008 (UTC)


The "founder" section reads like it belongs in the Simple English Wikipedia. It should be rewritten or removed. (Why not just link to Socrates?)

I think it should be removed. Socrates is already linked to; although some explication of Socrates' character may lead to a greater understanding of the method, that paragraph fails to convey anything relevant to the method and isn't exactly accurate. --Heah (talk) 10:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I second the motion for removal. Objections? --Harlequence (talk) 20:52, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Added link[edit]

Seeing as how Maieutics is a part of the Socratic Method, I added a link to its page.--The Individual 03:33, 26 January 2006 (UTC)


since the Socratic method is also known as the "method of elenchos" and i can't seem to see the difference between the two, i've added a merger tag. thoughts? -- talk 01:56, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Done. WAS 4.250 04:35, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

cool, thanks. maybe we should have the "dialogues" discussion here to see what others think? --Heah talk 04:49, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Ok, its been a while since this merger happened, so it is a little late to (humbly) object, but a few points. The Socratic Method has in effect two meanings: the method Socrates employed in Plato's dialogues and a modern method of education named after this method. This article is predominantly about the latter and is somewhat incongruous with the article I wrote on the elenchus. Furthermore, the text from elenchos was fairly arbitrarily placed, between text that contradicts it. E.g. -
"The exact nature of the elenchos is subject to a great deal of debate, in particular concerning whether it is a positive method, leading to knowledge, or a negative method used solely to refute false claims to knowledge.
The Socratic method is a negative method of hypotheses elimination ..."
I think this was less than perfectly conceived - surely, at least, the merger should have taken place only when 'Socratic Method' was prepared to take it consistently. The result is very messy, a patchwork of very different ideas, and I find it hard to see how it could be edited successfully without a major overhaul. I realise that it is somewhat awkward splitting them into two again now (and perhaps this would not be a good idea anyway) but I suppose a solution would be to break the article into two sections reflecting the two meanings of 'Socratic Method', one on the issue in Greek philosophy and the other on the modern pedagogical method. (Sorry, I know this is more critical than constructive, but I had to let of steam). Dast 10:56, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Wayback machine reply, I know, but the merger seems likely to have been a good idea for a general reader. The differences between a "pure" elenchos and "Socratic method" are somewhat abstruse, and I strongly suspect that most Wikipedia readers will be more likely to see that material and grasp the differences if salient in this article. I will now go respond to the other merger suggestion as I intended to when I saw this :-P. LUxlii (talk) 22:45, 9 January 2013 (UTC)


The link the "Soctatic Method Society" points to a yahoo group which has not had any activity in two months. Searching for "Socratic Method Society" returned no other relevant hits. I believe the link should be removed. Agree?

Removed: Link to Jan Helfeld article. Self-promotion, and not a good example of the Socratic method in practice. -- (talk) 06:04, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Ironic Citation Needed alert[edit]

The teacher and student are willing to accept any correctly-reasoned answer. That is, the reasoning process must be considered more important than pre-conceived facts or beliefs.[citation needed] Cosmo7 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 05:43, 18 April 2009 (UTC).

Socratic questioning[edit]

Should Socratic questioning be merged into here? It doesn't seem like it needs its own article, but I'm no expert. Dreamyshade (talk) 08:45, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that Socratic Questioning should go under the main category of Socratic Method. Socratic Questioning is founded on Socratic methods and it would be more concise to have them placed under the one heading. In my opinion, this would be more user-friendly for those looking for information on either of those specific topics. (Nbellows (talk) 14:04, 17 July 2012 (UTC))

I agree with the merger and the proposed placement (likely requiring significant editing longer term). A redirect for "Socratic questioning" makes sense, as I suspect that most people searching for that term are perhaps actually interested in the somewhat broader topic of "Socratic method". However, there do seem to be several articles in Wikipedia dealing with the same basic concept and using a moniker of the form "Socratic <insert noun>", so perhaps more care needs to be taken with any such decision. LUxlii (talk) 22:48, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Silly loops[edit]

Socratic irony redirects to irony, which in the opening blurb, says that it refers to the Socratic method. So now, nowhere on Wikipedia is there any mention of that Socratic irony actually is. -- LightSpectra (talk) 21:46, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Now Socratic irony redirects here. This doesn't help at all, because this article doesn't even mention it. --Cadwaladr (talk) 16:04, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Socratic irony should redirect to Irony#Socratic irony. Currently the term "Socratic irony" appears nowhere in the Socratic method article. --Omnipaedista (talk) 07:50, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Syntactic Ambiguity & Commentary[edit]

The final two sentences of ¶2 read, "Aristotle attributed to Socrates the discovery of the method of definition and induction, which he regarded as the essence of the scientific method. Perhaps oddly, however, Aristotle also claimed that this method is not suitable for ethics."

Who regarded "the method of definition and induction" as "the essence of the scientific method," Aristotle or Socrates? Depending on how the question is answered, an incongruity in the appropriateness of the method, for use in science or ethics, may not be attributable to either man. The second sentence seems to me commentary, questionably germane; and its deletion would certainly obviate the need for a citation.

I edited a few things in sentence 4 of ¶2 also, but the sentence still seems cumbersome.

Samohtar (talk) 00:00, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

'as if it were an answer'[edit]

The term Socratic questioning is used to describe a kind of questioning in which an original question is responded to as though it were an answer. This in turn forces the first questioner to reformulate a new question in light of the progress of the discourse.

sorry to be thick but I can't see how this describes actual examples of Socratic questions. Is this a valid definition of Socratic questioning and if so, why? Citations/explanations?

The two specific problems I'm having are a) how is a question to be taken as an answer? and b) how is the first questioner (person A) forced to reformulate a new question? For both, is it that the assumptions the question is based on are questioned? I do like the snappiness of the two sentences quoted but the problem is that it doesn't quite clearly say what it means. If the 'responded to as an answer' thing is a common explanation then it can be better said and cited.

thank you! (talk) 12:32, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

I don't know whether an answer from the computer science sector is going to carry any weight with the philosophy sector (though I was just asked yesterday to chair a philosophy session at a conference if that counts for anything). Let me just offer one example of a question that can be taken as an answer. Someone asks "what is the smallest prime factor of 100000007700000049?" and I respond with the question "what is the smallest multiple of 100000007 having thirteen zeroes in its decimal expansion?" On the one hand this answer engages the listener by forcing him or her to think instead of passively absorbing the answer. On the other it saves all the thought that would otherwise have gone into figuring out the answer without any outside hints. To me this is the essence of the Socratic method. (To further spice up this example, the special form of this number makes it easier to factor than an arbitrary 18-digit number. Moreover I don't know whether 100000007700000049 is the answer to the second question.) --Vaughan Pratt (talk) 05:21, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Is the method a reductio ad absurdam?[edit]

If I understand it right, the elenchos method consists of one party stating a thesis, and the other trying to demonstrate that it results in a contradiction or demonstrably false conclusion. Does that make a Socratic argument a form of reductio ad absurdam? I notice that term is not mentioned in the article. --ChetvornoTALK 02:28, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

first paragraph[edit]

Can the Socratic method not be practiced within oneself? For example, a person could play devil's advocate and argue both sides of an argument by theirself. Should the part in the introduction about the socratic method taking place between two people be altered? — Preceding unsigned comment added by NatalieAvigailL (talkcontribs) 18:43, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

This is an interesting question to raise, but I would argue that self-questioning would seem to be covered by the "two people" description. A person questioning him/herself in such fashion would be playing two roles in a simulated interlocutory process (e.g., a conversation between me and my devil's advocate self) in order to promote more detailed analysis of a given situation. LUxlii (talk) 22:58, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Is this part of the "Socratic method"[edit]

"Aristotle attributed to Socrates the discovery of the method of definition and induction, which he regarded as the essence of the scientific method."

This may be a method owing to Socrates, but is it really a characteristic of the Socratic dialectic method?-- (talk) 11:48, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Now (at long last) removed. Kablammo (talk) 01:10, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

The Lead is too long[edit]

I actually came here as a "customer" to get info. It just so happens I also edit wikipedia, esp the leads. Now I just cannot easily digest the information to get a grasp of the topic (esp coming in from nowhere and not having any idea about the topic -- The best test of all)--Inayity (talk) 09:32, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

It does go on a bit. Myrvin (talk) 09:49, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
I moved a chunk to a Development section. Does this work? Myrvin (talk) 10:06, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

Alt names[edit]

Apparently yet another synonym is the "erotematic method". Now, It's not really common enough to warrant inclusion in the lead... but, then, it doesn't look like any of the other names—"maieutics, method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate"—are either. "Socratic debate", moreover, seems a complete misnomer since at best the speakers are working together to move towards the truth and, more often, one is badgering the other with rhetorical questions whose answer he already believes he knows; there's essaying but never any actual debate.

In any case, except for perhaps one of the elenchy names, these should probably all be shunted out of the lead into a name section or footnote. — LlywelynII 16:48, 28 January 2016 (UTC)