OSCAR BRENIFIER
Why is maieutic scary?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

19:00 Paris time

Plato notes that Socratic questioning, which is supposed to appeal to reason, produces above all an emotional effect. And anyone who practices this exercise observes this phenomenon in his interactions with others. This is the case when a dialogue begins, where very often, the one who is invited to answer questions becomes nervous, irritated, or protests rather compulsively. With time and experience he will learn to settle down, to respond quietly to what is asked of him, or to simply admit that he cannot answer. Plato calls "thinking" in the strict sense of the term this exchange of questions and answers, of a dialectical nature.

But more surprisingly, we observe that this nervousness occurs even before the process begins. Either when the person in question is merely offered such an exchange, because his interlocutor begins to ask him questions, or because he has simply heard about this practice. We could assume that out of sheer intellectual curiosity, anyone might want to try this exercise, but only a small minority does. As if being questioned by another were a perilous endeavor. All kinds of arguments are used to refuse the exercise, the most common being the "lack of time", an expression of bad faith if there is one: who does not have an hour to waste, however busy he may be? Thus, we can wonder what frightens so many people in the Socratic practice, a problematic that we will explore during this next workshop.
Oscar Brenifier
Philosophical practitioner
Oscar Brenifier is the co-founder of the Institute of Philosophical Practices, based in Paris. Doctor of Philosophy, he has been promoting philosophical practice around the world for many years. He has published around fifty books in this area, for children and adults. His specialties are philosophical consultation, philosophy for children, didactics of philosophy and business philosophy.
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