socratic debate

March 20, 2012
From a young age I have had this thirst for knowledge beyond the expected curriculum, which has forced me to push myself to the limits and not take anything for granted. I recall learning about adding and subtracting numbers in the second grade. While the other kids were satisfied with what the teacher had to say about it, I sat there and proceeded to asked my teacher what would happen when a number was equal to less than zero… how was it possible to have less than nothing… how could I have less than zero cookies in my cookie jar?I now know this process is called Socratic debate.

The Ancient Greek Philosophers used Socratic debate to mature and flourish as philosophers. This practice is still widely used in today’s world for more or less the same reasons it was used in Ancient times. I myself have become accustomed to employing this method, not to instigate or provoke ill feelings from anyone but simply to expand my own horizons.

I believe disagreeing is one way to go about learning. Debating has allowed me to make sure I have reached the just answer. This process has proven useful even though I have not always been correct in my reasoning. In the same way that it is necessary to prune a tree in order for it to develop; I believe the clashing of ideas is merely a way to grow. It is what’s necessary to eliminate the wrong answers and to single out the right ones. What’s considered the right answer isn’t always the one I find most crucial. (Maybe it’s the right answer to the wrong question).

I’ve never been completely satisfied with the answers I received in school. Instead I have been galvanized to dig deeper. Last year I was shown, for the first time, Zeno's paradoxes. After scanning through them I was captivated by the very notion that motion is a mere illusion. It was one of the most intriguing things I had ever examined and I was compelled to do more research. As it turns out Zeno’s arguments are thought to be perhaps one of the first examples of Socratic Debate. I gleaned from this experience something of great importance. It made me realize that; in the words of Socrates “All I know is that I know nothing”. Due to this I will continue to strive to acquired skills, knowledge, comprehension, and understanding of the world inside and outside of school.

Going through life with the philosophy of questioning everything has also allowed me to constantly become aware of and acknowledge mistakes that I have made. It is important to reflect on and admit my own fallibility allowing me to find ways to consistently improve myself. It has become a matter of personal importance and integrity. I have done my best to incorporate these lessons into my life.

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