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￼￼￼• Socrates’ genius traits included curiosity, intellectual honesty, and non-conventionality.
• Though not much is known about Socrates’ personal life, his students and followers wrote down dialogues and plays containing some of his main ideas, where he demonstrated a heightened ability for rational argument and insight.
• Like other people considered great philosophical thinkers, Socrates took total ignorance as a starting point and cleared his mind so that he could inquire genuinely into the nature of things. His Socratic method is a classic question-driven approach to seeking out knowledge and understanding.
• To practice this in our own lives, we can use six main types of questions to get to the heart of a matter.
• We can ask clarification questions, questions that probe assumptions, explore rationale, reasons, and evidence, challenge viewpoints and perspectives, consider implications and consequences, and ask questions about the nature of the question itself.
• Our goal is to find out why certain ideas matter, to see what hidden or unconscious assumptions we hold, to look more rationally and closely at evidence, to consider and weigh up potential perspectives we haven’t considered, to think about the meaning of the answer we are looking for and how it relates to other pieces of information we have, and to examine the way we are framing our question and why.
• The Socratic method can be used to inquire more deeply into our own beliefs, but it can also help us debate more effectively with others. We can use the fundamentals of Socratic dialogue to structure more logical arguments or design experiments that follow the scientific method, i.e. making a hypothesis (a question) and testing it against evidence and observation to reach an insightful conclusion.
• To be more like Socrates, we can get into the habit of routinely asking questions of our own deeply held beliefs and assumptions, taking nothing for granted. Be like the child who always asks, “But why?”
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