Reflecting on The Socratic Imperative

            by KEVIN CZARZASTY

            Socrates pioneered the philosophy of questioning.  He explained that there are two ways of teaching.  On one hand, I can be told an answer, and then memorize it.  On the other hand, if I’m asked a question, I must then look inward to find an answer True to myself.  The more questions, the more full-proof a given premise.  While the memorization happens all too much, self-exploration is falsely labeled as useless.  We’re too obsessed with thinking about what we do know; we’re not concerned enough with wondering about what we don’t
know. 

            The Athenian government persecuted Socrates for corrupting the youth with questions, and because he preached critical thought, he was given the choice between exile or death by poison.  In
hopes that his message would be heard, or maybe repeated by FTCN thousands of years later, Socrates drank the toxic Hemlock, and died a man of virtue.

            Tragically, Socrates seems to have failed.   Today, many know his name, but few hear his lesson, and even less live by the man’s prophecy.  Why are we so afraid to question?  What’s so Bad about curiosity?  The most curious people in the world are kids, and they’re arguably the smartest. Consider how much knowledge kids retain in their first three years.  Indeed you have to feed and clothe, but through their own experimentation, they learn to move, interact, and survive independently.  Children are conditioned by their environment, but it is their curiosity that enables them to function within the environment.

            Perhaps we shouldstart analyzing governance in a curious manner. Similarly, maybe our government should not mimic the Athenians, but instead encourage and even practice critical thought.

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