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Socratic Method

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This article is about the teaching method. For the episode, see The Socratic Method.

The Socratic Method is a form of dialectic inquiry. It typically involves two or more speakers at any one time, with one leading the discussion and the other agreeing to certain assumptions put forward for his acceptance or rejection.

The practice involves asking a series of questions surrounding a central issue, and answering questions of the others involved. Generally this involves the defense of one point of view against another and is oppositional. The best way to 'win' is to make the opponent contradict themselves in some way that proves the inquirer's own point.

The method is named after the 5th century B.C.E. Greek philosopher Socrates who, although he probably didn't invent the process, consistently used it with his students as a way of eliminating assumptions that led to contradictions. He used it both as a teaching method and as a research method.

Today, the Socratic Method is largely used in law schools to get students to study the natural and logical consequences of following a particular rule of law, which often leads to a result opposite of what the law intended.

House relies heavily on this method as his teaching tool, requiring his fellows, and more rarely medical students, to come up with their own potential diagnosis and a factual basis to back it up. He will eliminate diagnoses that do not fit the established facts, but will also listen to counter-arguments that the established facts may not be what they seem.

In Acceptance, House engages in a short Socratic dialogue with Foreman regarding whether a death row inmate should be allowed emergency medical treatment. He starts by making an obvious moral relativity statement (killers are worse than wife beaters) then extends the analogies to child molestors and car thieves (of which Foreman was one, a car thief that is) and asks what treatment a car thief can be denied.

In Three Stories, House goes into a longer dialectic involving three students attempting to get them to come up with the correct known diagnosis based on both the available facts and his own prodding. Instead, Allison Cameron realizes House is talking about his own case and comes up with the diagnosis - muscle death, the ultimate zebra for the symptoms being presented by the patient. At the end of the lecture, the students engage in their own dialogue regarding the propriety of Stacy Warner providing consent to a procedure that House made it clear he didn't want to undergo.

Socratic method at Wikipedia

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