Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Plato's Socrates Methods Myth and Man

Plato's Socrates part 1: So, I just started reading Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... and so far it has been quite entertaining.  It seems like Socrates is probably the most famous Greek philosopher, several different ancient authors wrote about stuff that he did/said, but unfortunately or fortunately he apparently never wrote anything.

One thing all this study of ancient philosophers brings to mind is something I learned many years ago (high school) about ancient texts.  It was in a video about the trustworthiness of the biblical text.  I don't remember all the exact figures, but basically it went something like this: there are only a couple copies ancient texts and yet they are considered trustworthy (at least in the point of who wrote them and when) and there are ten times as many copies of the New Testament but people don't consider it trustworthy.  Seems a bit inconsistent doesn't it?  Anyways, I digress...  There are two initial points I would like to draw from Plato's version of Socrates, the socratic method, and socratic ignorance.

First, and arguably the most widespread lesson learned from Socrates is the Socratic method for learning/teaching.  Simply put, we as educators should answer students' questions with questions to get them to think through their assumptions.  This can be used incorrectly e.g. certain facts should be questioned/answered directly.  However, there are lots of times when we should use questions to seek out the roots of our questions and gain a deeper understanding of whatever we're studying.

Second, and I personally think that more people should adopt this self-image in order to drive themselves to continually pursue learning.  The idea of socratic ignorance is the conundrum that one much know that he/she doesn't know anything.  So, once you realize that you don't know anything you'll continue to seek out knowledge.

I love fireworks