A personal example of the Socratic method.

 

 I will freely admit, I do not like politics or politicians. Those that are inarticulate and fumble around with speeches, sound dim witted and uneducated. To contrast, those that are very articulate, charismatic, and well versed in rhetoric, seam slick and un-trustworthy.

 

 So for the sake of argument or debate, let’s begin with my own prejudice.  “Politics disgusts me”. Socrates might counter with, “what do you mean by politics, define that for me.

Politics is the profession of those who are appointed or elected in the service of governing the public.

                    Soc. Dose that profession disgust you.

No?

                    Soc. So it is not the profession.

 I might say, then politicians disgust me. He might ask define politicians.

Those “professionals” elected or appointed whose job it is to bring about governance.

                    Soc. All of them bother you or some?

Not all politicians.  

                   Soc. What about them disgusts you?

They lie.  

                   Soc. Define lie.

Speak an untruth.  

                    Soc. Have only politicians lied to you, or have others.

Others as well of, course.  

                     Soc. Than is it the politician or the lie that bothers you?

It seems it is the lie.  

                     Soc. Define lie.

Telling something untrue.

                     Soc. Are all untruths a lie?

Yes.  

                     Soc. Are all lies bad?

Yes.  

                      Soc. What if your grandmother knits you the ugliest sweater you                              have ever seen and you tell her, thank you it’s beautiful? Is that not                          a lie?

Yes, but that is different.

                       Soc. How so?

No harm was done.

                        Soc. So there is a difference between one lie and another. So what is                          a harmful lie?

One that is malicious and purposeful.

                       Soc. Was your grandmother lie not also purposeful?

Yes, but not hurtful.

                      Soc. So your assertion about politics is incorrect but what might be                       closer is that you are disgusted by lies intended to be hurtful and                           misleading.  

 

So, if you follow along with the questioning, there is a methodical reducing and narrowing of each definition if it turns out to be not completely accurate. Each time this is done takes a reexamination of the facts, opinions and assertions, to either let them go as inaccurate or bring them to a fine point.  

 

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