Are you like Socrates - that is, are you asking questions?

in #socrates2 months ago

I am a man with a lot of interests, and one of them is history. Yesterday, I was reading about how the old Greek philosophy came to influence the world back then, and just as well during the Renaissance, a period in which people looked back to the old Greek culture and its values, which by many was said to be "the ideal". One of the persons who was brought forth as people started to learn from the old Greek culture, from the Classics, was Socrates.

Socrates lived for approximately 70 years, and he was born in 470 BC. It is interesting that he didn't write any texts himself, but we can learn more about him through the texts written by for example his student Plato (who also turned into a very famous philosopher).


But, what can we learn from Socrates today? How can his way of thinking influence our lives? I believe what I find most interesting is that he proved his brilliance by being able to ask questions. In other words, he never gave his students a straightforward answer - instead, he asked questions, which in turn made them think, and which further on required them to understand a lot.

Socrates and COVID-19

I am trying to imagine what Socrates would say and ask if he heard about the COVID-19 vaccine. He would for sure not just say yes and receive the vaccine. He would start to ask questions.

  • Why do I need this vaccine?
  • Because it will keep you well!
  • Why will the vaccine keep me well?
  • Because it lowers the risk of getting very sick if you catch COVID-19.
  • Why does it lower the risk?
  • Because it prepares your immune system for the sickness, thus making it better at battling the sickness itself.
  • How can I know that it will not have the opposite effect?

This is just a very imaginary conversation, but this is really one of the ways Socrates worked. He asked questions, which required the one leading the conversation to have to understand the topic, and think deeper than just a basic yes or no answer.

And if you want to become a good student today, I believe this is a method we need to catch up on. What do I mean?

On Wikipedia, we can read the following about Socrates: "He spent his last day in prison, refusing to escape."

This is a fact that you might remember. But, now, instead of just trying to memorize it, ask yourself: "Why did he spend his last days in prison? Why did he refuse to escape?" If you ask these questions, you will be able to understand the character of Socrates much more than if you just try to memorize the data.

Do you get what I mean?


I think you also have to ask why he didn't write things down?

I suspect it is because the intellectuals of his day (the sophists) were skilled at using paradoxes to turn all discussions inside out.

Because he couldn't write things down, he would have to start each of his conversations from scratch.

Still the Socratic Method of systematically questioning the foundations of reason has proven to be extremely valuable. It is sad that societies tend to persecute people who ask the difficult questions.

Haha, you are definitely one who has some understanding of Socrates, and really the question about why he didn't write things down himself is truly a great question.

I believe that it is so important that we teach children to ask questions, not just to memorize... you need much more wisdom and knowledge to ask a good question than to memorize data!