Platonic dialogue, maieutic method and critical thinking

Journal of Philosophy of Education 41 (3):309–323 (2007)
In this paper I offer a reading of one of Plato's later works, the Sophist, that reveals it to be informed by principles comparable on the face of it with those that have emerged recently in the field of critical thinking. As a development of the famous Socratic method of his teacher, I argue, Plato deployed his own pedagogical method, a ‘mid‐wifely’ or ‘maieutic’ method, in the Sophist. In contrast to the Socratic method, the sole aim of this method is not to disabuse the reader or learner of her false opinions. Rather, its purpose is to supply her with the skills and dispositions as well as the claims and counter‐claims she needs to critically evaluate a view, and so facilitate knowledge acquisition, for herself. But the text does not merely teach critical thinking in this indirect manner. One of the strategies its author employed was to encourage the reader/learner to consider under what conditions a claim or idea would be false. To the extent that it achieves this, the Sophist provides both a model and an application of that particular kind of critical thinking in the learning environment that Jonathan Baron has described as ‘active open‐mindedness’
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2007.00561.x
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Robert Nozick (1997). Socratic Puzzles. Harvard University Press.

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