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The Socratic Way of Questioning

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The Socratic Way of Questioning

How to Use Socrates’ Method to Discover the Truth and Argue Wisely


15 min read
10 take-aways
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Let Socrates help you dissect problems skillfully and react rationally.

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The art of Socratic questioning, an ancient method of critical thinking, has renewed relevance in the age of disinformation and fake news. A foundation for scientific methods of research and applied logic, Socrates’s model for exploring the world and the meaning of existence is also a philosophical cornerstone. Writer Michael Britton explains how Socratic questioning can help you sharpen your mind, recognize your biases, instigate dialogues that reveal true questions, and make informed decisions. With an unrelenting commitment to truth and rationality, his book challenges readers to think.


Socrates’s emphasis on reasoning, precise definitions and critical thinking are the basis for the scientific method.

Socrates, a fifth-century BC Greek philosopher, was a wise man who continually sought greater wisdom. He developed the Socratic method – a probing, direct and respectful questioning technique – as he set out on a quest to find someone who was wiser than he. He approached anyone whom he considered knowledgeable – politicians, teachers and elders – and questioned them. Realizing he needed precisely defined terms before any argument or dialogue could proceed, he would spend half the discussion searching for the exact definition of the subject at hand. His unrelenting focus on differentiation of terms often elicited embarrassment, frustration and animosity in his discussion partners. 

Socrates’s emphasis led to universal rules for definitions. Logically, acceptable definitions should be neither too broad nor too narrow. They must be literal, short, positive and not self-referential. In short, a definition must be both clear and distinct.

Using inductive and deductive reasoning, Socrates invented ways to test&#...

About the Author

Michael Britton is a freelance writer and author of several books.

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