The Fundamentals of Education

A Socratic Perspective on
the Cultivation of Humanity

by Max Maxwell and Melete

Page 30

Socratic Persuasion Summary

The persuasion to lead an examined life:
We are born as miraculous works of art and have an obligation to improve ourselves and the society in which we live. This is not to say merely that we are not enough and must become better. We must stand up to pay the attention needed and give the work required to allow the excellence that we are to have a life and to make a contribution. Therefore, seeking knowledge, openness to learning and growing, and the will to be vigorously persistent in the quest for self improvement is an important part of every person's daily life. The mastery of self through knowledge is at the heart of living well.

Persuasion about the human character
of Intelligent and creative conversations:

1.) The refutation of our own ideas and beliefs is worthy of being embraced as something very valuable. Failing faster and failing more often is positive and useful when a learning curve is involved. Thus, the ability of a human being to place positive value upon finding out that they are wrong, and their willingness to eagerly seek such discoveries is important for even our most basic development.

2.) Our unique contribution to dialogue is valuable.
This essay was written in the context of the unique contributions of two people in dialogue. I have lost track of the number of times that Melete and I have bounced ideas back and forth with the result being something that neither one of us could have come up with alone. The principle of honoring the unique contribution of individuals is not some generic moral aesthetic just to be inclusive or to make people feel good. It is the pragmatic reality of what it means for people to work together in creative ways. We have a responsibility as good citizens to make our own original contribution. Allowing the talk of others to be the sole source of what formulates our ideas is an abdication of our responsibility to living an examined life.

3.) Dialogue between people that is friendly, inviting and mutually encouraging is a fundamental necessity between people who differ in good conscience. This ability to offer a hospitable place for creative dialogue is a vital resource to make individuals and societies strong. It is our differences that are most valuable for creating new knowledge and problem solving. The difficult issues require the interaction of a diversity of perspectives in order to optimize our ability to create solutions. The paradigm of enemies and of demonizing those who are different does not belong in any useful conversation that has the ability to solve problems or create new knowledge. People with different ideas and perspectives should act like this is true when they discuss their differences together with the courtesy and mutual hospitality that is worthy of honored quests.

These are talking points worth repeating.