• The Socratic Method

  • A Practitioner’s Handbook
  • By: Ward Farnsworth
  • Narrated by: John Lescault
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (221 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A thinking person’s guide to a better life. Ward Farnsworth explains what the Socratic method is, how it works, and why it matters more than ever in our time. Easy to grasp yet challenging to master, the method will change the way you think about life’s big questions.

About 2,500 years ago, Plato wrote a set of dialogues that depict Socrates in conversation. The way Socrates asks questions, and the reasons why, amount to a whole way of thinking. This is the Socratic method - one of humanity’s great achievements. More than a technique, the method is an ethic of patience, inquiry, humility, and doubt. It is an aid to better thinking, and a remedy for bad habits of mind, whether in law, politics, the classroom, or tackling life’s big questions at the kitchen table.

Drawing on hundreds of quotations, this book explains what the Socratic method is and how to use it. Chapters include “Question and Answer”, “Ignorance”, and “Socrates and the Stoics”. Socratic philosophy is still startling after all these years because it is an approach to asking hard questions and chasing after them. It is a route to wisdom and a way of thinking about wisdom. With Farnsworth as your guide, the ideas of Socrates are easier to understand than ever and accessible to anyone.

As Farnsworth achieved with The Practicing Stoic and Farnsworth’s Classical English Style, ideas of old are made new and vital again. This book is for those coming to philosophy the way Socrates did - as the everyday activity of making sense out of life and how to live it - and for anyone who wants to know what he said about doing that better.

©2021 Ward Farnsworth (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about The Socratic Method

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Needs a new version

The only major complaint I have, which parallels other reviews, is that the reading of the footnotes during the performance is distracting. It also interrupts my ability to follow the thread of the discussion. The audio book needs to be redone with the footnotes moved to a downloadable pdf.

16 people found this helpful

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Footnotes

There are (footnotes) so (footnote) many footnotes (footnotes) that a brilliant (footnote) book by a brilliant man and perfect (footnote) narrator is absolutely (footnote) unlistenable.

13 people found this helpful

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How Much Would You Pay For A Better Self?

Early in the book, Farnsworth compares the Socratic Method to glasses. Glasses help us see more clearly; the Socratic method helps us think more clearly. I found this apt. Two chapters near the end of the book did far and away the most to prescribe me the better glasses I'd been looking for. These were the chapters when Farnsworth gets into the nitty gritty details of how to ask questions that move an investigation forwards (often by looking for definitions, locating fundamental principles, and bringing up counter examples).
I've often found that the right question can do more to persuade someone than any number of arguments. Farnsworth seems to agree. He describes it as standing next to your interlocutor and investigating claims together rather than assuming a combative position. Two allies looking for the answer to a hard question will generally get much further than two opponents trying to show why the other is wrong.
A main strength of the book is Socrates himself. He is the question personified. He keeps things interesting. He's always up to something, whether it's questioning nobles on what the definition of courage is, getting sentenced to death, or drinking his hemlock without so much as a complaint about the taste. He's a boon to philosophy in general and this book in particular.
Farnsworth makes the social goal of his book clear. No one needs me to say that most public discourse seems to lack the Socratic values of respectful (if lively) questioning and searching for truth over winning arguments. I'll admit that I'm not optimistic about society's chances of adopting these values. However, I'm more optimistic about the readers of this book walking away with some invaluable tools for how to conduct important conversations both in the world and in their minds.

8 people found this helpful

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Socratic analysis of Socratic analysis

Ward Farnsworth has done it again. Following his exceptional book The Practicing Stoic comes this deep dive into the Socratic method with the same reader of the book who also does excellent job here. I initially found the book interesting, thought it was getting a little repetitive, then came around at the end to see where the major points were being made. I suspect it is somewhat like being on the receiving end of the Socratic method by Socrates himself.

3 people found this helpful

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  • RA
  • 01-26-22

Hmmm, something doesn't seem right.

Takes a long time to get to the point, but that might be due to the 'reader'. The voice has the staccato and blandness of a computer generated voice. I lose interest very fast when hearing this kind of reading, the mirror repetition of words that sounds like the person talking doesn't know the subject at all.

1 person found this helpful

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I

The author, Ward Farnsworth makes Socrates come alive again and enriches the mind of the listener with clever interpretations and clarity of examples from the life and works of Socrates and his followers. I will be reading more by this author, wherever I can find his work. Thank you.

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Amazing

love this book it's a great listen bought a hard copy as well really relates Socratics to common times very enlightening

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Best primer of Socratic method I have read yet!

Clear thoughtful researched discourse on the Socratic method. The author documents and discusses the references in such a way as to invite the reader or listener to witness the characters in ancient greece.

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A bit robotic

It's a great introduction to the Socratic method. it was very well explained and parts of it are very applicable. I would have liked to see more up-to-date example to make it easily understandable to the modern world as I believe this book was written in 2021.

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A stoic’s eye view of Socrates

This has some helpful content on the Socratic Method. There was a strange advertisement for stoicism and skepticism thrown in there that was a couple of chapters long, The author did bring it back to the Socratic Method eventually, but the rabbit trail did nothing but detract from the rest of the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-18-22

Exceptionally valuable

A book truly needed for our times of people competing to have the loudest hot takes and the most ascerbic put-downs of ideological rivals. I feel a better world would be one where this book is on every school's curriculum; in the spirit of the ideas presented though feel free to challenge me on that!

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  • Luis Martins Soares
  • 05-01-22

Amazing to listen to!

I am studying to become a clinical psychologist and this book made me think on how philosophy is the mother of all sciences and how the socratic method influences so much of what I do: both professionally and personally!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-21-21

Good for falling asleep

This book was quiet enjoyable, I didn’t not take in much of the information, as I did use it to fall asleep. The things that where talked about in this book where not that interesting, but It was interesting enough that If you where to read it in full consciousness it would be a good read.

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  • Marita
  • 02-21-22

Definitely recommend

Well thought out and presented. This is a really good exposition on The Socratic Method. Practical. And I agree with his interpretations. I like that he refers to Gregory Vlastos a lot. Sound thinking and definitely progresses the study of this mysterious practice.

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  • patrick m hamilton
  • 01-31-22

bruh, leave the footnotes to the physical copy.

yeah some thought provoking stuff peppered in here but the constant footnotes made it hard going. leave that kind of stuff for the hard copy pls.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-04-22

Very informative!

A great book with very detailed information. I am just beginning my journey into the world of philosophy and would recommend this to anyone starting down the same path. The narration was a little monotone and really engaging. I will definitely be listening to it again though.