The Socratic Method
The Socratic method research paper illustrates that the rhetorical method is a technique of questioning which works to define the meanings of words used in statements and to get an individual to say just what he means when he says something. A Socratic Method research paper will show that this technique is a dialectic method of examining language and ideas. In Plato's dialogues, Socrates uses this method to try to uncover not only a firmer basis for moral standards and opinion, but also justice, virtue, and other important qualities of individuals and society. In the dialogues, Socrates engages in this method with other characters who are Sophists.
Although Socrates never claimed that he reached a position of absolute truth in his method of questioning, he believed that he came much closer to the truth than did the Sophists who made claims which sounded true and sensible such as the one that moral standards are the prevailing opinions of society. In examining this claim of the Sophists with his characteristic dialectical questioning, Socrates comes to the position that moral standards are based largely on an individual's commitment to truth and his reverence for the gods. Socrates shows himself to be a true philosopher as opposed to the Sophists who try to teach persons how to use rhetoric to get what they want or to persuade persons to believe what they want them to believe by going beyond opinion in a search for knowledge. As Socrates says, the unexamined life is not worth living. He believes that he is making life more meaningful and valuable by searching for an elusive truth than merely accepting public opinion as truth as do the Sophists.
What does Socratic questioning look like? Advocates of the use of the Socratic questioning structure as a strategy in education, propose the steps that must be taken by a Socratic questioner:
A Socratic questioner should:
- Keep the discussion focused
- Keep the discussion intellectually responsible
- Stimulate the discussion with probing questions
- Periodically summarize what has and what has not been dealt with and/or resolved
- Draw as many students as possible into the discussion