Influence of Humanism in the World today

 

“The Socratic Method” {Humanist Model for Teaching} Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elenchus redirects here. For the brachiopod genus, see Elenchus (brachiopod).

Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate) is a dialectic method of inquiry, largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts and first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. For this, Socrates is customarily regarded as the father of Western ethics or moral philosophy.

It is a form of philosophical inquiry. It typically involves two speakers at any one time, with one leading the discussion and the other agreeing to certain assumptions put forward for his acceptance or rejection. The method is credited to Socrates, who began to engage in such discussions with his fellow Athenians after a visit to the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle of Delphi confirmed Socrates to be the wisest man in Athens. Socrates interpreted this as a paradox, and began utilizing the Socratic method in order to get his conundrum answered. Diogenes Laertius, however, wrote that Protagoras invented the “Socratic” method.

The practice involves asking a series of questions surrounding a central issue, and answering questions of the others involved. Generally, this involves the defense of one point of view against another and is oppositional. The best way to 'win' is to make the opponent contradict themselves in some way that proves the inquirer's own point.

Plato famously formalized the Socratic Elenctic style in prose — presenting Socrates as the curious questioner of some prominent Athenian interlocutor — in some of his early dialogues, such as Euthyphro or Ion, and the method is most commonly found within the so-called "Socratic dialogues", which generally portray Socrates engaging in the method and questioning his fellow citizens about moral and epistemological issues.

The term Socratic Questioning is used to describe a kind of questioning in which an original question is responded to as though it were an answer. This in turn forces the first questioner to reformulate a new question in light of the progress of the discourse.

Method

Elenkhos (Greek: λεγχος, a cross-examination for the purpose of refutation), more usually spelled 'elenchus', is the central technique of the Socratic Method. "If you ask a question or series of questions in which your prospect can readily agree, then ask a concluding question based on those agreements, you will receive a desirable response".

In Plato's early dialogues, the elenchos is the technique Socrates uses to investigate, for example, the nature or definition of ethical concepts such as justice or virtue. According to one general characterization (Vlastos, 1983), it has the following steps:

1. Socrates' interlocutor asserts a thesis, for example 'Courage is endurance of the soul', which Socrates considers false and targets for refutation.
2. Socrates secures his interlocutor's agreement to further premises, for example 'Courage is a fine thing' and 'Ignorant endurance is not a fine thing'.

3. Socrates then argues, and the interlocutor agrees, that these further premises imply the contrary of the original thesis, in this case it leads to: 'courage is not endurance of the soul'.
4. Socrates then claims that he has shown that his interlocutor's thesis is false and that its contrary is true.
One elenctic examination can lead to a new, more refined, examination of the concept being considered; in this case it invites an examination of the claim: 'Courage is wise endurance of the soul'. Most Socratic inquiries consist of a series of elenchai and typically end in aporia.

Frede (1992) insists that step #4 above makes nonsense of the aporetic nature of the early dialogues. If any claim has shown to be true then it can not be the case that the interlocutors are in aporia, a state where they no longer know what to say about the subject under discussion.
The exact nature of the elenchos is subject to a great deal of debate, in particular concerning whether it is a positive method, leading to knowledge, or a negative method used solely to refute false claims to knowledge.

 

The Socratic Method is a negative method of hypotheses elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those which lead to contradictions. The method of Socrates is a search for the underlying hypotheses, assumptions, or axioms, which may subconsciously shape one's opinion, and to make them the subject of scrutiny, to determine their consistency with other beliefs. The basic form is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic, exploring the definitions or logoi (singular logos), seeking to characterize the general characteristics shared by various particular instances. To the extent to which this method is designed to bring out definitions implicit in the interlocutors' beliefs, or to help them further their understanding, it was called the method of maieutics. Aristotle attributed to Socrates the discovery of the method of definition and induction, which he regarded as the essence of the scientific method. Perhaps oddly, however, Aristotle also claimed that this method is not suitable for ethics.

Application

Socrates generally applied his method of examination to concepts that seem to lack any concrete definition; e.g., the key moral concepts at the time, the virtues of piety, wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. Such an examination challenged the implicit moral beliefs of the interlocutors, bringing out inadequacies and inconsistencies in their beliefs, and usually resulting in puzzlement known as aporia. In view of such inadequacies, Socrates himself professed his ignorance, but others still claimed to have knowledge. Socrates believed that his awareness of his ignorance made him wiser than those who, though ignorant, still claimed knowledge. Although this belief seems paradoxical at first glance, it in fact allowed Socrates to discover his own errors where others might assume they were correct. This claim was known by the anecdote of the Delphic oracular pronouncement that Socrates was the wisest of all men. (Or, rather, that no man was wiser than Socrates.)

Socrates used this claim of wisdom as the basis of his moral exhortation. Accordingly, he claimed that the chief goodness consists in the caring of the soul concerned with moral truth and moral understanding, that "wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the state", and that "life without examination [dialogue] is not worth living". It is with this in mind that the Socratic Method is employed.

The motive for the modern usage of this method and Socrates' use are not necessarily equivalent. Socrates rarely used the method to actually develop consistent theories, instead using myth to explain them. The Parmenides shows Parmenides using the Socratic Method to point out the flaws in the Platonic theory of the Forms, as presented by Socrates; it is not the only dialogue in which theories normally expounded by Plato/Socrates are broken down through dialectic. Instead of arriving at answers, the method was used to break down the theories we hold, to go "beyond" the axioms and postulates we take for granted. Therefore, myth and the Socratic Method are not meant by Plato to be incompatible; they have different purposes, and are often described as the "left hand" and "right hand" paths to the good and wisdom.

Law school

The Socratic Method is widely used in contemporary legal education by many law schools in the United States. In a typical class setting, the professor asks a question and calls on a student who may or may not have volunteered an answer. The professor either then continues to ask the student questions or moves on to another student.

The employment of the Socratic Method has some uniform features but can also be heavily influenced by the temperament of the teacher. The method begins by calling on a student at random, and asking about a central argument put forth by one of the judges (typically on the side of the majority) in an assigned case. The first step is to ask the student to paraphrase the argument, in order to ensure that the student has read and has a basic understanding of the case. (Students who have not read the case, for whatever reason, must take the opportunity to "pass," which most professors allow as a matter of course a few times per term.) Assuming the student has read the case and can articulate the court's argument, the teacher then asks whether the student agrees with the argument. The teacher then typically plays Devil's advocate, trying to force the student to defend his or her position by rebutting arguments against it.

These subsequent questions can take a few forms. Sometimes they seek to challenge the assumptions upon which the student based the previous answer until it breaks. Further questions can also be designed to move a student toward greater specificity, either in understanding a rule of law or a particular case. The teacher may attempt to propose a hypothetical situation in which the student's assertion would seem to demand an exception. Finally professors use the Socratic method to allow students to come to legal principles on their own through carefully worded questions that spur a particular train of thought.

One hallmark of Socratic questioning is that typically there is more than one "correct" answer, and more often, no clear answer at all. The primary goal of the Socratic method in law schools is not to answer usually unanswerable questions, but to explore the contours of often difficult legal issues and to teach students the critical thinking skills they will need as lawyers. This is often done by altering the facts of a particular case to tease out how the result might be different. This method encourages students to go beyond memorizing the facts of a case and instead focus on application of legal rules to fungible fact patterns. As the assigned texts are typically case law, the Socratic method, if properly used, can display that judges' decisions are usually conscientiously made but are based on certain premises, belief, and conclusions that are the subject of legitimate argument.

Sometimes, the class ends with a quick discussion of doctrinal foundations (legal rules) to anchor the students in contemporary legal understanding of an issue. In other classes the class simply ends and students are forced to figure out for themselves the legal rules or principles that were at issue. For this method to work, the students are expected to be prepared for class in advance by reading the assigned materials (case opinions, notes, law review articles, etc.) and by familiarizing themselves with the general outlines of the subject matter.

Psychotherapy

The Socratic Method has been adapted for psychotherapy, most prominently in Classical Adlerian psychotherapy and Cognitive therapy. It can be used to clarify meaning, feeling, and consequences, as well as to gradually unfold insight, or explore alternative actions.

Training

The method is used by modern management training companies focusing on behaviour change, e.g. Krauthammer, Gustav Käser Training International, Dynargie. In this case the trainer acts as a facilitator who uses open questions to allow the participants to reflect on their way of thinking and behaviour, and then using closed questions to force them to make a decision towards a change in their thinking and/or behaviour. In sales communication training it is often referred to as the funnel concept. The open questions help to discover the needs of the client and the closed questions pin the client down and get to the 'Yes' to close the deal.

Lesson plan elements for teachers in classrooms

A skillful teacher can teach students to think for themselves using this method. This is the only classic method of teaching that was designed to create genuinely autonomous thinkers. There are some crucial lesson plan elements to this form of teaching:
• The teacher and student must agree on the topic of instruction.
• The student must agree to attempt to answer questions from the teacher.
• The teacher and student must be willing to accept any correctly-reasoned answer. That is, the reasoning process must be considered more important than pre-conceived facts or beliefs.
• The teacher's questions must expose errors in the students' reasoning or beliefs. That is, the teacher must reason more quickly and correctly than the student, and discover errors in the students' reasoning, and then formulate a question that the students cannot answer except by a correct reasoning process. To perform this service, the teacher must be very quick-thinking about the classic errors in reasoning.
• If the teacher makes an error of logic or fact, it is acceptable for a student to correct the teacher.

Since a discussion is not a dialogue, it is not a proper medium for the Socratic Method. However, it is helpful — if second best — if the teacher is able to lead a group of students in a discussion. This is not always possible in situations that require the teacher to evaluate students, but it is preferable pedagogically, because it encourages the students to reason rather than appeal to authority.

More loosely, one can label any process of thorough-going questioning in a dialogue as an instance of the Socratic Method.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source
Socratic Method – noun
The use of questions, as employed by Socrates, to develop a latent idea, as in the mind of a pupil, or to elicit admissions, as from an opponent, tending to establish a proposition.

American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source
Socratic Method - n.
A pedagogical technique in which a teacher does not give information directly but instead asks a series of questions, with the result that the student comes either to the desired knowledge by answering the questions or to a deeper awareness of the limits of knowledge.

WordNet - Cite This Source
Socratic Method – noun

A method of teaching by question and answer; used by Socrates to elicit truths from his students.

 

 

Text Box: When this Pagan Philosophical “method” is used in a Christian School; College; or Seminary, it will inevitably lead to the undermining of the students; faith;and a corresponding loss of reverence for God and His Holy Word. Eventually this method leads to APOSTASY! Re: The history of any and all Christian churches and schools in the Western world in the last 200 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influence of Humanism in the World today

 

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

CASUISTRY - NOUN:Inflected forms: pl. ca•sui•ist•ries

1. Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead.

2. The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by
analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Casuistry (pronounced /ˈʒuːɨstri/) is an applied ethics term referring to case-based reasoning. Casuistry is used in juridical and ethical discussions of law and ethics, and often is a critique of principle-based reasoning.

For example, while a principle-based approach might claim that lying is always morally wrong, the casuist would argue that, depending upon the details of the case, lying might or might not be illegal or unethical. For instance, the casuist might conclude that a person is wrong to lie in legal testimony under oath, but might argue that lying actually is the best moral choice if the lie saves a life (Thomas Sanchez and others thus theorized a doctrine of mental reservation). For the casuist, the circumstances of a case are essential for evaluating the proper response.

Typically, casuistic reasoning begins with a clear-cut paradigmatic case (from paradigm, the Greek word παράδειγμα, paradeigma, "pattern" and "example", in turn derived from παραδεικνύναι paradeiknunai, "demonstrate"). In legal reasoning, for example, this might be a precedent case, such as pre-meditated murder. From it, the casuist would ask how closely the given case currently under consideration matches the paradigmatic case. Cases like the paradigmatic case ought to be treated like-wise; cases unlike the paradigm ought to be treated differently. Thus, a man is properly charged with pre-meditated murder if the circumstances surrounding his case closely resemble the exemplar pre-meditated murder case. The less a given case is like the paradigm, the weaker the justification is for treating that case like the paradigmatic case.

Western casuistry dates from Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), yet the zenith of casuistry was from A.D. 1550 to A.D. 1650, when the Jesuit religious order extensively used casuistry, particularly in practicing the private, Roman Catholic confessional. The term casuistry quickly became pejorative with Blaise Pascal's attack on the misuse of casuistry. In Provincial Letters (1656–7), he scolded the Jesuits for using casuistic reasoning in confession to placate wealthy Church donors, whilst punishing poor penitents. Pascal charged that aristocratic penitents could confess their sins one day, re-commit the sin the next day, generously donate the following day, then return to re-confess their sins and only receive the lightest punishment; Pascal's criticisms darkened casuistry's reputation. Since the seventeenth century, casuistry has been widely considered a degenerate form of reasoning. Critics of casuistry focus on its specious argumentation as intentionally misleading.

It was not until publication of The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (1988), by Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin, that a revival of casuistry occurred. They argue that the abuse of casuistry is the problem, not casuistry itself. Properly used, casuistry is powerful reasoning. Jonsen and Toulmin offer casuistry in dissolving the contradictory tenets of absolutism and relativism: “the form of reasoning constitutive of classical casuistry is rhetorical reasoning”. Moreover, Utilitarianism and Pragmatism commonly are identified as philosophies employing the rhetorical reasoning of casuistry.
Meanings

Casuistry is a method of case reasoning especially useful in treating cases that involve moral dilemmas. Casuistry is a branch of applied ethics. Casuistry is the basis of case law in common law. It is the standard form of reasoning applied in common law.

The casuist morality

Casuistry takes a relentlessly practical approach to morality. Rather than using theories as starting points, casuistry begins with an examination of cases. By drawing parallels between paradigms, so called "pure cases," and the case at hand, a casuist tries to determine a moral response appropriate to a particular case.

Casuistry has been described as "theory modest" (Arras, see below). One of the strengths of casuistry is that it does not begin with, nor does it overemphasize, theoretical issues. Casuistry does not require practitioners to agree about ethical theories or evaluations before making policy. Instead, they can agree that certain paradigms should be treated in certain ways, and then agree on the similarities, the so-called warrants between a paradigm and the case at hand.

Since most people, and most cultures, substantially agree about most pure ethical situations, casuistry often creates ethical arguments that can persuade people of different ethnic, religious and philosophical beliefs to treat particular cases in the same ways. For this reason, casuistry is widely considered to be the basis for the English common law and its derivatives.
Casuistry is prone to abuses wherever the analogies between cases are false.

Casuistry in early modern times

The casuistic method was popular among Catholic thinkers in the early modern period, and not only among the Jesuits, as it is commonly thought. Famous casuistic authors include Antonio Escobar y Mendoza's Summula casuum conscientiae (1627), which had enjoyed a great success, Thomas Sanchez, Vincenzo Filliucci (Jesuit and penitentiary at St Peter's), Antonino Diana, Paul Laymann (Theologia Moralis, 1625), John Azor (Institutiones Morales, 1600), Etienne Bauny, Louis Cellot, Valerius Reginaldus, Hermann Busembaum (d. 1668), etc.

One of the main theses of casuists was the necessity to adapt the rigorous morals of the Early Fathers of Christianity to modern morals, which led in some extreme cases to justify what Innocent XI later called "laxist moral" (i.e. justification of usury, homicide, regicide, lying through "mental reservation", adultery and loss of virginity before marriage, etc. — all due cases registered by Pascal in the Provincial Letters).
The progress of casuistry was interrupted towards the middle of the 17th century by the controversy which arose concerning the doctrine of probabilism, which stipulated that one could choose to follow a "probable opinion," that is, supported by a theologian or another, even if it contradicted a more probable opinion or a quotation from one of the Fathers of the Church. The controversy divided Catholic theologians into two camps, Rigorists and Laxists.
Casuistry was much mistrusted by early Protestant theologians, because it justified many of the abuses that they sought to reform. It was famously attacked by the Catholic and Jansenist philosopher Pascal, during the formulary controversy against the Jesuits, in his Provincial Letters as the use of rhetorics to justify moral laxity, which became identified by the public with Jesuitism; hence the everyday use of the term to mean complex and sophistic reasoning to justify moral laxity. By the middle of the 18th century, the name of "casuistry" became a synonym of moral laxity.

In 1679 Pope Innocent XI publicly condemned sixty-five of the more radical propositions (stricti mentalis), taken chiefly from the writings of Escobar, Suarez and other casuists as propositiones laxorum moralistarum and forbade anyone to teach them under penalty of excommunication. Despite this papal condemnation, both Catholicism and Protestantism permits the use of ambiguous and equivocal statements in specific circumstances .

Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (d. 1787), founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, then brought some attention back to casuistry by publishing again Hermann Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis, the last edition of it being published in 1785 and receiving the approbation of the Holy See in 1803. Busembaum's Medulla had been burnt in Toulouse in 1757 because of its justification of regicide, deemed particularly scandalous after Damiens' assassination attempt against Louis XV.

Casuists have often been mistrusted as too self-serving, and their reasoning thought too inaccessible. The reasoning is often inaccessible because successful casuistry requires a large amount of knowledge about paradigms, and how parallels can be drawn from those paradigms to real life situations. In modern times, there is a similar tremendous resentment against lawyers and law. Defenders of casuistry often point out that the problems are not so much with casuistry itself, but with the improper use of casuistry. That these problems manifest themselves so often however may make it appear to some that this form of reasoning is somewhat easier to misuse than it is to apply correctly.

Casuistry in modern times

In modern times, casuistry has successfully been applied to law, bioethics and business ethics, and its reputation is somewhat rehabilitated. G.E. Moore dealt with casuistry in chapter 1.4 of his Principia Ethica; he claimed that "the defects of casuistry are not defects of principle; no objection can be taken to its aim and object. It has failed only because it is far too difficult a subject to be treated adequately in our present state of knowledge." He also asserted, "Casuistry is the goal of ethical investigation. It cannot be safely attempted at the beginning of our studies, but only at the end."

A good reference, analysing the methodological structure of casuistic argument is The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning (1990), by Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin (ISBN 0-520-06960-9).


Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source

 

soph·ist – noun

1. (often initial capital letter) Greek History.

a. any of a class of professional teachers in ancient Greece who gave instruction in various fields, as in general culture, rhetoric, politics, or disputation.

b. a person belonging to this class at a later period who, while professing to teach skill in reasoning, concerned himself with ingenuity and specious effectiveness rather than soundness of argument.

2. a person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly.

3. a philosopher.

 

1535–45; < L sophista < Gk sophists sage, deriv. of sophízesthai]
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.