For Socrates, Athens was a classroom and he went about asking questions of the elite and common man alike, seeking to arrive at political and ethical truths. Socrates didn’t lecture about what he knew. In fact, he claimed to be ignorant because he had no ideas, but wise because he recognized his own ignorance.

He asked questions of his fellow Athenians in a dialectic method — the Socratic Method — which compelled the audience to think through a problem to a logical conclusion. Sometimes the answer seemed so obvious, it made Socrates’ opponents look foolish. For this, his Socratic Method was admired by some and vilified by others.

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