Skip to Content

Socratic Method vs. Scientific Method (Which Is Better?)

Socratic Method vs. Scientific Method (Which Is Better?)

Whether you’re engaging in casual conversation or discussing something more serious, there are many different types of discussion strategies that you can use to communicate and reach an understanding.

There’s the Socratic Method which was developed by Socrates – and this involves employing dialogue in order to guide a participant towards the truth – while there’s also the Scientific Method which is best used when looking for facts.

Through comparing these two methods, it becomes clear how one may work out better than the other for particular purposes such as avoiding repeating points or drawing conclusions.

There are many reasons why humans argue with one another – but is it worth it? The Socratic Method and Scientific Method vary greatly in their approach when it comes to disagreements; where they differ most significantly is how they approach success rates and find common ground.

In this article, we’ll explore both of those aspects in depth before giving you an opinion on which method is better when debating against others. By the end, you’ll know exactly which strategy would work best for you when arguing against others.

What Is the Socratic Method?

Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, and the teacher gave birth to the method of inquiry now known as the Socratic method or dialectic in a series of dialogues with his students. In these conversations, Socrates would ask special questions to get his pupils to question their knowledge and consider opposing points of view

He didn’t give direct answers to their questions and instead pushed them towards critical thinking skills that they could apply to all aspects of life, not just philosophy. This process was intended to help students learn how to think critically on their own so that they could lead fulfilling lives as adults without needing Socrates’ help (at least directly). 

In his search for truth, Socrates used inductive reasoning by asking questions rather than relying on logic or deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning involves making generalizations based on examples while deductive reasoning involves making conclusions based solely on facts (see our post about deduction versus induction if you’re interested in learning more about these two methods).

For example, one of Socrates’ most famous debates involved showing how two men who were alike couldn’t both be good—the theory being that if two people are alike in every way except for one trait, then that single difference must account for everything else about them.

An important video giving a detailed explanation of The Socratic Method

What Is the Scientific Method?

The scientific method is a process of problem-solving that builds upon previous discoveries and knowledge to develop and test hypotheses, theories, and laws. Developed by Aristotle and refined by Sir Francis Bacon in the 16th century, the scientific method has been used in everything from engineering to psychology to physics since its inception.

A well-known example of the scientific method at work can be found in Charles Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species, which describes his research about evolution. 

Although it often comes as second nature, many people have never actually heard or understood what exactly the scientific method means or how it works. In fact, many scientists use an entirely different set of practices when conducting their experiments than those outlined here.

However, despite these variations in approach and use (which may be traced back through history to Aristotle), everyone who uses some version of science—including almost every researcher—uses elements of what we describe here as part of their day-to-day activities.

Multiple tools including a compass, a microscope, books and maps on a black wooden table.
The difference between the Socratic method and Scientific method explained

How Do They Differ From Each Other?

One of Socrates’ key characteristics was his emphasis on questioning rather than knowing and understanding, which was expressed in his method of inquiry (the Socratic method). He argued that knowing a fact could never be considered true knowledge. Instead, it can only be believed based on personal opinion and memory.

Knowing a fact doesn’t necessarily make someone an expert; rather, questioning establishes experts as people become capable of figuring out what needs to be answered about an issue. In contrast, scientific inquiry requires a factual basis for any research or experiments conducted by a scientist or group of scientists so that their results can be considered reliable and trustworthy.

While there are similarities between these two methods of inquiring into issues, they have very different focuses.

I would probably use the Socratic method as it is more useful because when you’re doing something you can always question yourself if you’re doing something right or wrong.

An example of the  Socratic method is when you’re trying to do math problems and you get stuck then you go back to step one and start over again.

Another example is if you are cooking a meal but it tastes weird then maybe you should add some spices or change the quantity of salt.

An example of the scientific method is if you want to make medicine from plants but you don’t know how you are supposed to do it then you will experiment with different ingredients until you find out what works best together.

A teacher teaching students which shows what a Socratic method is.
What are the pros and cons of the Socratic method and Scientific method?

Pros and Cons of the Two Methods

One of my favorite things about these two methods of learning is that they both come with their pros and cons.

The advantages of the Socratic method are the following:

  • Fosters critical thought above memorization
  • Insists on the beliefs of students when ideas are tested
  • Shows the complexity of a simple statement
  • Focuses on clarifying the values of students and scrutiny

The advantages of the Scientific method are the following:

  • It’s based on empirical knowledge
  • Reliable to find the truth
  • Scientists are fair
  • Focuses on established theory

The disadvantages of both the methods are summarized in the table below

Scientific MethodSocratic Method
It focuses on observations about the world It doesn’t have complete information about the world
It draws conclusions by focusing on facts Senses can misinform us – technology’s handiest presents us with an incomplete image of the world
It focuses on problem-solving through hardcore factsNot as appropriate for providing worldly statistics and lecture
Focuses on what’s real – a few matters can be illusionsIt’s not capable of providing logical facts, theorems, and information generated through traditional lectures
It utilizes a hypothesis
It utilizes data, theories, and experiments to test a scenario
Scientific Method vs. Socratic Method

When it comes down to it, though, one method isn’t necessarily better than another; each has its place in society.

I like using both methods depending on what kind of information I’m trying to learn—and if you want to be successful in life and business, then you should.

You might not even realize how often you’re already using both approaches in your everyday life, but by being aware of them, you can make sure that you get all the benefits from each one. Here are some ways that Socrates and Aristotle taught: 

Aristotle’s scientific method focuses on conducting research through observation. He would use his keen powers of observation to break apart an issue into pieces before he tried to put it back together again. He wanted students to identify their questions first before gathering evidence for them and once they had reached certainty he would encourage them to move forward with a conclusion.

Socrates, on the other hand, encouraged people to question everything around them in order to find the truth. Socrates was known as a gadfly because he liked to pester people with difficult questions until they were forced to think critically about their beliefs and actions.

He was more interested in making people think rather than teaching facts, which is why he often posed philosophical questions that could be answered in many different ways—but all of those answers came from within. Socrates believed that you should always question what you know so that you can better understand your perspective; if something seems true, then it probably is true.

A picture of chemical equipment.
Here’s why you should use the Socratic method and Scientific method

Why Should Students Use Them in Their Lessons?

Many teachers have tried to decide whether they should follow a more Socratic method of teaching, or a more Scientific method of teaching when helping their students learn new material. This can be an incredibly difficult decision for teachers to make because each method has its strengths and weaknesses that make it better than the other in certain situations.

For example, many people think that the Socratic method is better at developing critical thinking skills within students, while others think that it’s better at getting students to understand how theories work in real life.

In addition, many people believe that a scientific approach teaches students how to use facts and information from past experiences to solve problems. This makes real-life situations much easier than a Socratic approach does.

Despite these differences, there are still many similarities between them as well. For example, both approaches encourage students to ask questions about new material instead of just accepting what they are told by their teacher without any evidence. Both methods also encourage student participation during class discussions so they can become more involved in what they are learning.

Conclusion

As we can see in these examples, both Socrates and scientists are trying to arrive at the truth through effective ways of reasoning and inquiry; however, there are key differences between them.

While both have been successful in producing knowledge, those seeking to understand how things work or to discover new truths should recognize their various strengths and weaknesses before deciding which approach would be best for a given situation.

When it comes down to it, finding out what works—and doesn’t work—is an essential part of figuring out if something will yield true results over time. It’s easier said than done though, because who hasn’t experienced someone or something that claimed they had all the answers but fell short when put under intense scrutiny?

Whenever someone presents themselves as an authority, they deserve fair criticism so they can improve over time and move closer toward actual truth—whether that be personal growth or reaching scientific certainty regarding specific processes.

Other Articles: