“’No Guru, No Method, No Teacher’: Socrates and Education,” in Lee Trepanier (ed.), The Socratic Method Today: Student-Centered and Transformative Teaching in Political Science.

Trepanier, L. (Ed.). (2017). The Socratic Method Today: Student-Centered and Transformative Teaching in Political Science. Routledge.

This chapter on wisdom-seeking takes up the question of what is philosophy, and it uses Socrates as our very best case study. I undertake this investigation by embarking upon a simple, three-part discussion of what philosophy is not. As the Van Morrison quote in the title of this chapter suggests, in philosophy there can be “No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.” That is to say: there can be no philosopher-guru because the lover-of-wisdom does not transmit anything to his or her disciple; neither is there guru or disciple where philosophy is understood to be the “art of dying and being dead.” Similarly, philosophy is not a method; hence, there really is no “Socratic method.” Nor is philosophy a course of study that has a teacher. Socrates tells us plainly that he was nobody’s teacher. The philosopher’s (and therefore Socrates’) elusive identity will be further explored in relation to its doppelganger in the character of the sophist: how both the sophist and the philosopher are seen not only talking about similar/identical things, but also using the same speaking techniques to do so. If there is a “Socratic method,” in other words, it is indistinguishable from the sophist’s method; dialectic and eristic are, in all outward appearances, identical. Indeed, the only way to discern the one from the other is by their distinct spiritual orientations: the philosopher’s noetic dispensation towards the transcendent ground which transpires as a process of dying to the self (or rather to the illusions and pretences-to-knowledge harboured in our attachments to the psycho-mental ego) on the one hand, and the sophist’s contrasting concern with the enlargement of the ego’s dominance and the lust for power on the other.

(My publication)Posted:Dec 01 2017, 12:00 AM by sdsteel
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