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he would spend the entire day in the market place talking with anyone about anything, but actually he did little talking.
his method was to ask his students a series of questions encouraging his students to think for themselves. in this way both teacher and student gained insight in the human condition.
most of our assumptions of Socrates come from his playing out by his student Plato.
Perhaps his most important contribution to Western thought is his dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic method or method of “elenchus”, which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as the Good and Justice.
To illustrate the use of the Socratic method; a series of questions are posed to help a person or group to determine their underlying beliefs and the extent of their knowledge. The Socratic method is a negative method ofhypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions. It was designed to force one to examine one’s own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs.
The matter is complicated because the historical Socrates seems to have been notorious for asking questions but not answering, claiming to lack wisdom concerning the subjects about which he questioned others.
If anything in general can be said about the philosophical beliefs of Socrates, it is that he was morally, intellectually, and politically at odds with many of his fellow Athenians. When he is on trial for heresy and corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens, he uses his method of elenchos to demonstrate to the jurors that their moral values are wrong-headed. He tells them they are concerned with their families, careers, and political responsibilities when they ought to be worried about the “welfare of their souls”.
Many of the beliefs traditionally attributed to the historical Socrates have been characterized as “paradoxical” because they seem to conflict with common sense. The following are among the so-called Socratic Paradoxes:
- No one desires evil.
- No one errs or does wrong willingly or knowingly.
- Virtue—all virtue—is knowledge.
- Virtue is sufficient for happiness.
The phrase Socratic paradox can also refer to a self-referential paradox, originating in Socrates’ phrase, “what I do not know I do not think I know”, often paraphrased as “I know that I know nothing.”
The one thing Socrates consistently claimed to have knowledge of was “the art of love”, which he connected with the concept of “the love of wisdom”, i.e., philosophy. He never actually claimed to be wise, only to understand the path a lover of wisdom must take in pursuing it.
Socrates believed the best way for people to live was to focus on the pursuit of virtue rather than the pursuit, for instance, of material wealth. He always invited others to try to concentrate more on friendships and a sense of true community, for Socrates felt this was the best way for people to grow together as a populace.
from Sherry Turkle‘s reclaiming conversation p 171
since socrates lamented the movement from speech to writing, observers have warned against each new mode of communication as destructive to a cherished mode of thought.