Socratic Pedagogy: Perplexity, humiliation, shame and a broken egg



This article addresses and rebuts the claim that the purpose of the Socratic method is to humiliate, shame, and perplex participants. It clarifies pedagogical and exegetical confusions surrounding the Socratic method, what the Socratic method is, what its epistemological ambitions are, and how the historical Socrates likely viewed it. First, this article explains the Socratic method; second, it clarifies a misunderstanding regarding Socrates' role in intentionally perplexing his interlocutors; third, it discusses two different types of perplexity and relates these to philosophical inquiry and dialectical pedagogy; finally, it refutes the claim that those who use the Socratic method intentionally attempt to shame and humiliate students.