Socratic Questioning

We think constantly and our thoughts influence our emotions and shape how we see ourselves and the world around us. Therefore, it is important to think well, and a really good way to think well is by asking good questions. There is a form of questioning devised by Socrates that is often called Socratic Questioning. Socrates used this as a form of teaching where he would assume an ignorant mindset and ask thoughtful questions that would aid the student in his own reasoning. This has not only been used in a teaching setting, but also in cognitive therapy.

This is such a useful tool for helping ourselves and others. For ourselves it can help us to understand difficult subjects. Having good questions to hand are always useful in bible study, for example. Also, it can help us to manage our own thoughts, especially if we struggle with depression and anxiety, which are often fueled by illogical thoughts. We can also help others in this way, by asking them good questions.

Also, it can be helpful with others, in my experience, as we all suffer from pride, and sometimes it’s hard to accept external advice and much easier if we come to the conclusions through our own reasoning. In discussions and debates, it can often work better if we assume the ignorant role and ask thoughtful questions of the other party, rather than entering into argument and attempting to teach them directly.

It also helps us with humility, as to Socrates’ mind the ignorant role was no role at all, as he said, “I know that I know nothing.” It does us well to keep this in mind, that we are just a drop in the ocean and what we know is very little. Jesus teaches us this too, that we should be like little children. With a childlike curiosity and humble receptivity we can learn a great deal. By always being the student, we become like a sponge for knowledge. I aspire to be like this!