What is the Socratic Method and Why is it Important?

I was watching a Louder With Crowder “Change My Mind” segment yesterday when just about 15 minutes into the video, the host, Steven Crowder, asked the large group of listening college students, “Who knows the Socratic method? Who’s learned it in school?” 

Very few individuals in the large crowd actually raised their hand. 

Why is this significant? Because it displays just how lacking our education system is in teaching people how to have actual conversations. No, I don’t mean, “Hi, how are you?/ How have you been?” kind of conversations. I mean the conversations that you have to discuss bigger concept ideas in which you and another individual may not see eye-to-eye. 

The Socratic method is a form of cooporative argumentative dialogue between two individuals in which questions are asked by both parties to further understand the other’s viewpoint and potentially draw out contradictions in their stance. 

Notice the word cooporative in there? It’s right next to the word argumentative, but there none the less. And it makes all the difference. 

The idea is to come into the discussion to build understanding between both parties, and while each person tries to sway the other to see their viewpoint, they both approach it with the idea that they could be wrong. 

If your ideas can stand up to challenge, then you can feel better about your beliefs. But if they don’t stand up, how can you justifiably maintain and keep those beliefs? And if you don’t adjust and change your stances as you learn more, what does that say of your character? 

Trigger culture is largely driven by individuals who feel their stances should not be questioned. They absolutely fear the idea that they could be wrong and so they reject anything that could reveal a fault in their reasoning. Logic and reason only have a place if it supports their beliefs.

This is why it is important that the past generation, this generation, and the next all learn the Socratic method. To be able to learn from each other’s personal experience and education and build our own thoughts and beliefs rather than simply believing everything you’re told. In order to be complete and whole individuals, we must think for ourselves and see new information as an opportunity to either strengthen our stances or readjust. 

And isn’t that what rational people should do? When presented with new information, to approach it from a critical thinking standpoint to truly understand the full picture? And that’s what the Socratic method is all about, critical thinking. 

If you lack the ability to use critical thinking, I guarantee you’re not as smart as you think you are. 

“When the debate is over, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

- Socrates

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”

- Socrates

Don’t let civil discourse run its course in America.