Socrates use to employ a structured disciplined method of questioning to get answers from his students. In his method of questioning, Socrates would assume an ignorant mindset and give student the ability to explore their assumptions, acknowledge different point of views, re-examine the evidence/fact on which they based their thought and in the process become a better thinker.
Let’s explore Socrates method of questioning in detail.
Goal/Purpose: The first and foremost question we need to ask is what’s the purpose of the thought? What’s the end objective I want to meet?
Information/Facts/Evidence: Every thought we have is assumed on some information we know. On what information are you basing your thought on? How do we know this information is accurate, can we verify it? Have we failed to consider any other additional information?
Assumptions: Not every thought is based on hard facts, majority of them are based on the assumptions we make. What are you taking for granted here? What assumptions lie under point of view, can we make alternate assumptions?
Viewpoints/Perspectives: From what point of view we are looking at this? Is there an alternate point of view?
Concept/Ideas: Sometimes we use a concept to build on a thought. What’s the main idea you are using in your reasoning? Could you explain the idea? Are we using the appropriate concept or we to re-think on it again?
Inference/Conclusions: The end state for a thought is that you reach some conclusion. Could you explain your reasoning in reaching that conclusion? Is there an alternate conclusion?
Socratic method of questioning is essentially nothing but first principles thinking where you break-down the problem at hand into it’s fundamentals (not necessarily exact truths) then building something new.