How and Why to Analogize Socratic Questioning to Zen Buddhist Koan Practice
The nature and aim of Socrates’ philosophical method is a contested matter in ancient philosophy scholarship. Among scholars who believe that there is a coherent method in Plato’s dialogues, it is generally agreed that Socrates’ method is a practice that aims to elicit something by way of question and answer. I, among others, believe that something to be a transformation (in the sense of an awakening) on the part of the interlocutor to his own ignorance and conceit of knowledge. Instead of pointing to Plato’s dialogues for evidence in order to argue for this, I analogize the method and aim of Socratic Questioning to Zen Buddhist koan practice.
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