Socratic Method (Essay # 12)
Plato’s account of Socrates’ dialogues in his dialogue Euthuphro and the Apology brings to light Socrates’ genius through his pioneering style of thinking. His primary method of teaching was through a process of critical inquiry, a process that has become so renowned that it is now commonly referred to as Socratic Method. In the Apology Socrates uses the metaphor of a gadfly. He claims that a philosopher’s role is a gadfly; which I have come to disagree with this idea.
As Socrates says “though it seems ridiculous thing to say – as upon a great and noble horse which was somewhat sluggish because of its size and needed to be stirred up by a kind of gadfly.” (Plato 33) Using the gadfly as a metaphor was suitable for the Apology. The metaphor refers to Socrates because he is always active, and is always stirring up people from their sleep.
The Socratic Method seeks to find the truth in matters, often those that are fundamentally wrong. Essentially, Socrates asks people to think to their selves and find answers to their own questions through dialogue rather than reiterate a popular definition. Usually, Socrates finds faults in the new definition and asks that a refined one is created. In theory, this process is to be continued until a satisfactory definition is reached (although this never really happens). The key to the Socratic Method is the moment of confusion all of the people subjected to it experience. Once their beliefs are shattered, they find themselves forced to think independently and search for the truth. This method of Socratic questioning becomes especially invaluable when dealing with complex issues that are commonly misunderstood, such as piety in Euthyphro.