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I was so intrigued by what David Diener said regarding Socratic teaching. I wish he had been able to go into it more. He mentioned that Socratic teaching is based on assumptions that we would not agree with necessarily. Does anyone know more about those assumptions? Also, I wonder where he was going with that. Do you think he meant because Socratic teaching is based on assumptions we would not agree with that we ought not to give it much weight in our teaching? Or was it that we should be aware of it, but it still works with our Christian assumptions? I look forward to hearing people's thoughts.


Jen Dow

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I'm coming to this really late, and I haven't read what David Diener said (I don't think--although I did read his little book on Plato), but I wonder if this has anything to do with the rhetorician/philosopher pedagogical question discussed in Norms and Nobility? If I'm not completely messing thing up in my memory, I think the philosopher's school (to which Plato and Socrates belonged) believed that people had some kind of innate knowledge within them, and Socratic questioning is meant to draw that out. I'm just guessing here. 

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I don't know anything beyond what Dr. Diener said, but it sounded like Plato believed in a kind of reincarnation, and that's why the soul already "knows" things that merely need to be drawn out. Clearly this view of the soul is incompatible with the Christian faith and worldview. I think it underscores, though, why it's important to have Socratic discussion with a leader you can trust, because it's quite possible to get led quite astray by, say, a stereotypical bullying atheist professor who's out to ask the young Christian college student impossible questions to make them question (in a bad, destructive way), the things they think they know.

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It's quite possible that they did believe in some kind of reincarnation. I do think there is a kind of innate knowledge that we have, but not because of that. I'm thinking of "the law of God written in their hearts" referred to in Romans chapter 2. But your description of a bullying professor makes me remember again why it's so important to understand questions--what kind of questions are appropriate, and why. Examining the assumptions/fallacies behind a question, or different types of questions, seems like an interesting line of inquiry in itself!


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