Socrates, developer of the Socratic method for argumentation, helped transform Western philosophy. Unfortunately, he's made a mark in the wrong places as well. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Logic is the foundation of any good argument. In fact, a lazy or otherwise sloppily put together argument, especially in writing, is grounds for round criticism. So it goes without saying that if you aspire to be a good writer, you ground yourself with strong logic.

How you do that, is what’s peculiar.

Socrates developed a style of deductive argumentation — called the Socratic method — more than 1,600 years ago. His methods are studied in colleges and across America. But more so, the principles of his argument — using leading questions as premises in order to sneakily convince one’s oppenent of your righteousness and therefore logical consequence — have seeped into the daily Americana experience. You can find his touch on TV, in movies, and even in journalism.

The latter of which, it seems, is where the trendiness has caught my attention. Newspaper columnists and journo-bloggers have employed these methods in an awkard attempt to translate what is a perfected form of person-to-person communication (or fighting depending on how loud you’re talking) in a medium that is not dependent on conversation.

They don’t call it the ivory tower for just any reason.

The purpose of employing this technique, in my opinion, is to make the writing more personable, which newspapers are always trying to do. However, the inherrent failure of this method is that assumptions are made (in the form of questions) to supplement the foundation and layers of argument necessary to do actual convincing.

For example, I would follow the previous paragraph with this sentence: Do you really think people want flimsy Socrates arguments?

I’ve assumed that the argument is flimsy, and furthermore, that you don’t want it. In a conversation, there would be a cue, either by nod or a form of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as far as whether I am correct in my assumption. And then I would know how to proceed.

When writing, there are no cues. It’s simply misplaced implementation.

In order to strengthen your writing, use factual reasoning. Simply put, it’s best to take out the question-oriented premises and replace them with bold statements.

For example, replace my last example with this sentence: Socrates’ technique is both lazy and weak when used in writing.


For more information on the Socratic method, go to