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Examples of Socratic Method in Euthyphro and Meno: Analytical Essay

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To Destroy, Humble, and Lead

Socrates of Athens was famous for his never-ending questioning in search for knowledge and wisdom with the belief that he knows nothing and his method of doing so. This questioning method of Socrates would start off with Elenchus, or “belief destroyer.” Socrates would go around Athens and talk to everyone asking questions and puzzling them with their own words. Socrates would strike conversation with somebody who is deemed knowledgeable and try to gain this knowledge from them, but in doing so he would keep asking more questions trying to eliminate any inconsistencies he can find in their knowledge and ultimately confusing them. This causes them to believe they never knew what they had thought they had known to begin with. This point in which a person will now believe they do not understand what they once thought they knew is called Aporia. This “no way” moment is humbling, as one will acknowledge that they do not possess all of the knowledge they had thought they had. Once this point is reached, the person becomes teachable. They will allow a new foundation to be created and start to become more involved in bouncing an idea back and forth looking for a conclusion. The answer is never given, but to be found. When this happens, it is called psychagogia, or “soul leading.”

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Examples of Socratic method can be found in his disciple, Plato’s, dialogues of Socrates such as a long drawn out elenchus in Euthyphro where young Euthyphro thinks very highly of himself for the famous Socrates has come to him to ask what piety is. Euthyphro is lead on to lecture Socrates about piety, impiety, and how pious he is. This conversation leads to Socrates breaking down the young man’s view on piety until Euthyphro then agrees with something that could be viewed to be impious triggering young Euthyphro to leave the scene. Aporia, the moment of confusion and the base of being able to be taught, a clear example would be the point of aporia in Meno after being brought down by Socrates. Meno, being asked what he and Gorgias definition of virtue is, after replying and the definitions being contradicted, replies that he is on his wits end and does not know how to answer that question. Psychogogia is the process that proceeds aporia where a person is not told the answer, but led towards it. In Meno they do not reach a sound conclusion to the definition of virtue or what it truly is, but they are beginning to understand their own understanding of what virtue is, they will never know the essence of virtue until the gods give an answer to what the nature of virtue is.

This method of questioning to find an answer is very useful in analyzing more complex abstract ideas, as one can keep questioning those ideas. This would mean the method works well to put more thought into those intangible ideas that cannot be grasped completely. To give examples, piety and virtue as used in Euthyphro and Meno, they never find or tell a true answer, but they learn more about the topic themselves as they are led further in. Though this method could be used by those who already have an answer and are leading the other to find it. This allows for the individual who is being taught to figure it out themselves without being force fed answers to how to solve their problem, this creates a sturdier foundation to their learning. The person will have to open their minds and think harder to problem solve. This may work in various settings and topics but may not be the ideal method of teaching in many perspectives. One can teach a lesson on ideas, such as math, through discussion because a formula can be explained through process. The answers to the questions may be set in stone, but the method can be applied to numerus situations. Language and History on the other hand, cannot be taught through questioning because of the fact that things must be the way they are, there is no room for discussion if there is a set answer that cannot be altered through thought alone. This breakdown and build up method can be very handy for arguments, but cannot be applied to all fields of learning.

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Examples of Socratic Method in Euthyphro and Meno: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
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