Ward Farnsworth: The Socratic Method
Audio excerpt from the How to Think Like Socrates virtual conference
Ward Farnsworth is Dean and John Jeffers Research Chair at the University of Texas School of Law. He formerly was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the Boston University Law School. He’s the author of The Socratic Method and The Practicing Stoic.
The Socratic method as an orientation of mind, is different from the orientation of mind that we use by default and therefore challenging. It's a humbler, more inquisitive frame of mind, a path toward intelligence.
“A life, a good life is a life with pleasure.”
Socrates would ask, “What if a life had a lot of pleasure in it, but it was only obtained by doing horrible things to other people? Would you consider that a good life?”
“Well, no, of course not.”
“Maybe revise what you said.”
Socrates always finds or suggests contradictions between different things the person believes. This sounds modest and unassuming, this little process, but it has many uses, many payoffs.
You're really just asking questions about the premises. The major premise behind what people think is in the foreground. And most people are much clearer on what they think in the foreground than they are in the deep reasons for it.