Socrates, one of the founders of Western philosophy, lived in Athens, Greece in the 5th century before Jesus, making him a later contemporary of Gautama Buddha in India, and Laozi and Confucius in China. He was the teacher of Plato, who was in turn the teacher of Aristotle, who was himself tutor to Alexander the Great. What we know of Socrates comes primarily from the dialogues of his student, Plato, and it is here that we learn of his procedure for questioning the assumptions of others in a structured process that has been called the “Socratic Method,” the “Socratic Dialectic,” or elenchus.
According to Plato’s Apology, Socrates’ life as the gadfly (horsefly) or “perpetual irritant” in Athens began when his friend Chaerephon asked the oracle at Delphi if anyone were wiser than Socrates. The Oracle responded that no one was wiser. Socrates believed the Oracle’s response was a paradox, since he thought he possessed no wisdom whatsoever. But clearly Socrates had to know he was intelligent, smart, and in addition, wise, to draw that conclusion in the first place. Was Socrates being coy or provocative? Socrates decided to test the Oracle’s contradictory pronouncement by approaching the statesmen, poets, and artisans of Athens in an attempt to refute the Oracle’s pronouncement. Was he as smart as the oracle claimed?
Socrates was apparently notorious for asking questions but not answering, claiming to lack wisdom concerning the subjects about which he questioned others. This was stated as, “I know that I know nothing,” or “I know one thing: that I know nothing.” When Socrates questioned the wisest men in Athens he concluded that while each of these public figures thought he knew a great deal and was wise, in fact, when their assumptions were questioned, he discovered that they knew very little and were not wise at all. Socrates realized the Oracle was correct; while so-called wise men thought themselves wise and yet were not, he himself knew he was not wise at all, which, paradoxically, made him the wiser one since he was the only person aware of the depth of his own ignorance.
Socrates’ paradoxical wisdom made the prominent Athenians he publicly questioned look foolish, turning them against him and leading to accusations that he was corrupting the youth of Athens. Socrates defended his role as an irritant until the end: at his trial; when he was asked to propose his own punishment, Socrates suggested a wage paid by the government and free dinners for the rest of his life instead, to finance the time he spent as Athens’ benefactor.
Phenomenologically-based experiential multi-perspectivalisms (PEMs) are a variety of integral worldview, in that they are multi-perspectival, implying an integral-aperspectival and vision-logic level of development on the cognitive line, and both transpersonal and trans-rational in that they not only include yet transcend assumptions that generate and maintain prepersonal and personal worldviews, but are experientially, rather than cognitively based. They are phenomenologically-based in that they emphasize the cultivation of objective awareness or witnessing as well as the surfacing and tabling of assumptions. While there are potentially multiple varieties of PEMs, Integral Deep Listening (IDL), the variety developed by the author beginning in 1980, is the variety addressed here. While the Socratic Dialectic is not the progenitor of Integral Deep Listening, comparisons and contrasts help to clarify IDL while helping us to remember, respect and use the outstanding tools that Socrates developed and gave to the world so long ago. Here are similarities and differences, with explanations and clarifications following:
|Socratic Dialectic||Integral Deep Listening|
|Suspension of assumptions||Suspension of assumptions|
|The methodology, not the authority figure||The methodology, not the authority figure|
|Emphasis on the value of introspection||Emphasis on the value of introspection|
|Directed by the self||Directed by the self in partnership with emerging potentials|
|Self development||Access to priorities of life compass|
|Questioning searches for underlying commonalities||Questioning searches for underlying commonalities|
|Truth through logic||Truth through logic, phenomenology, and empiricism|
|Process of logical deduction involving questioning||Process of disidentification/identification with multiple perspectives|
|Dialectical argumentation||Questioning for information and clarification|
|Pragmatism focused on reasoning||Pragmatism focused on operationalized applicability|
|Discloses beliefs and level of knowledge||Discloses multiple alternative framings of life issues and dreams|
|Fearlessly confronts power||Not confrontrational; reveals the motivations of power|
|Contradictions confronted||Contradictions seen as possible integrative perspectives|
|Resistance ignored or taken as a challenge||Interviewing resistance|
|Universal absolutes||Emerging potentials|
|Amplifies truth||Amplifies polycentrism|
|Paradoxical wisdom||Cosmic humor|
|Identification with few relational exchanges||Identification with few relational exchanges|
|Focus on virtues||Focus on core values|
|Goodness, Truth, Beauty (harmony or peace)||Gratitude, Cosmic Humor, Luminosity|
|Prudence, Temperance, Courage, Justice||Confidence, Empathy, Wisdom, Acceptance, Inner Peace, Witnessing|
|Emphasis on relationships||Emphasis on relationships|
|Emphasis on ethics||Emphasis on morality|
|Recognition of the ethics of reciprocity||Recognition of the ethics of reciprocity|
|Emphasis on justice||Emphasis on justice|
|Supporter of the expression of soul among youth||Supporter of the expression of life compass among youth|
A Socratic dialogue, from the works of Plato, usually begins with Socrates professing ignorance of some subject. He asks questions of others in order to surface assumptions and beliefs to arrive at a fuller understanding of the subject, in the pursuit of truth. The dialogues contain four elements: 1) the plot or movement of the conversation, 2) the morality or ethos of the individual being questioned, 3) their reasoning, or dianoia, and 4) their style of response, or lexis.
The importance of questioning
PEMs, along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), share a Socratic emphasis on asking questions in the pursuit of knowledge. CBT also asks a series of focused, open-ended questions that encourage reflection (Clark & Egan, 2015).This is, however, different from the purposes and methods Socrates employed. Socrates was interested in truth more than knowledge; while knowledge is a matter of uncovering facts, truth is more a matter of uncovering irrationality and contradiction. IDL expects and encourages both irrationality, in the form of questioning not only characters but mundane objects like chewing gum and pliers, and contradiction, in that challenges to both waking worldviews and identity are transformative.
The Socratic Dialectic is designed to reveal the underlying beliefs and assumptions that a person holds as well as the extent of their knowledge. Socratic questioning, or maieutics, is disciplined questioning used to uncover assumptions, distinguish what we know from what we don’t know, explore complex ideas, analyze concepts, follow out logical implications of thought, get to the truth of things, open up issues and problems, or is used to control the discussion. It is not only disciplined and systematic but usually focuses on fundamental theories, principles, issues, concepts, or problems. In the Socratic Method people are confronted with the contradictions within their own thinking, leaving their beliefs and the emotional preferences which they represent, undefended. Problems are broken down into a series of questions. Consequently, the Socratic Dialectic is, like the interviewing component of Integral Deep Listening, essentially a questioning modality. This resemblance and common emphasis is significant. Most of us, most of the time, don’t question. Our default position is to assume we understand when in fact we are projecting our assumptions and biases onto the other person or our life situation. It might be as simple as having heard a partner, child, or friend say something similar a hundred times before, or to have been in a similar situation before. In such cases we generally don’t ask for more information before speaking or drawing conclusions, because we think we don’t need to. Instead, we go straight for the heuristic, the cognitive bias that says, “This is what they mean, what they are going to say next, and what they intend to do.”
The reality is, we don’t know. We’re just assuming, based on our past experience. However, because our assumptions and stereotypes are generally more or less accurate and helpful, we don’t experience a need or desire to collect more information. We think we know, based on being accurate in the past, or due to the power of some common collective belief, or the conclusions we have drawn from previous loves, work, or mystical experiences. If we stop and think about that for a moment it is not difficult to see how grandiose and non-empathetic the assumption that we know is. Instead, we need to ask questions. This is the fundamental brilliance of Socrates’ dialectic or elenchus: It doesn’t assume it understands. Instead, it assumes it doesn’t have all the necessary information and asks questions.
The importance of the suspension of assumptions to questioning
Questioning involves the suspension of assumptions in order to collect additional information that can show our assumptions to be true or false. Socrates put it like this: “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” “I neither know nor think that I know.” “…it seems that I am wiser…to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.” “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” Integral Deep Listening takes a similar approach. Instead of making interpretations of dreams or the words, feelings, and actions of others, it asks questions.
As an outstanding historic proponent of the value of dropping assumptions and instead asking questions, Socrates said, “I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.” Socrates is in fact associated only with a particular way or methodology for questioning. Two other prominent approaches are Husserl’s phenomenology and the empirical method broadly used within science. While the suspension of assumptions is also fundamental to Husserl’s phenomenology, instead of questioning, Husserl emphasized the tabling of assumptions in order to observe, in a non-filtered way, the contents of awareness: thoughts, feelings, sensory impressions. Instead of asking questions, Husserl’s phenomenology has awareness itself take on an attitude of questioning, thereby promoting objectivity in the subject and encouraging questioning itself rather than interpreting. It does so not only to gain information, but at the same time, to observe the information process from a relatively objective, disinterested, and witnessing perspective. Husserl’s phenomenology is not so much interested in truth as it is in clarity. This is an approach to questioning that is quite different from the Socratic method, and PEMs use phenomenology in the employment of disidentification, in which the interviewed subject observes the answers given by the interviewed dream character or personification of a life issue. Another important aspect of Husserl’s phenomenology is its insistence on the surfacing and suspension of assumptions which otherwise filter and distort observations. IDL employs this aspect of phenomenological enquiry when it asks for associations to a dream and the suspension of subject interpretations and analysis during interviewing, in order to deeply listen, in an integral way, to whatever this or that emerging potential says.
A third prominent approach to questioning is empiricism, in the tradition of Bacon and differentiated as sensory (the “Eye of Flesh”), noospheric (the “Eye of Mind”), and transpersonal (the “Eye of Spirit”) by Ken Wilber. Empiricism formulates a question, proposes a series of steps to answer it, requires that they be followed, and then tests the results against expert consensus. Empiricism makes assumptions, called hypotheses, and then tests them to see if those assumptions are valid or not.
As noted above, part of the lasting legacy of the Socratic Dialectic is in winnowing out false assumptions. The influence of the Socratic method today is most widely observed in the forming of hypotheses within the scientific method as a negative process of hypothesis elimination. By identifying and eliminating poor or faulty explanations that are not rational, in that they contain contradictions, only strong hypotheses remain. While Socrates does so with reason and logic and phenomenology with the objectification of awareness, science does so with empiricism, in the formulation of hypotheses for empirical testing. IDL interviewing supports the empirical methodology by subjecting hypotheses to the judgment of one or more interviewed, invested perspectives. Interviews also test hypotheses against six core values, confidence or fearlessness, empathy, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing, or objectivity. High scores are not necessarily better than low scores and a functional balance among qualities is more important. When a lack of awareness of these core values or of a need to bring them into balance is unrecognized, collapse becomes more likely. For example, the entire history of the development of atomic energy proceeded from the development of hypotheses that met Socrates’ test of rationality but had nothing to do with the Good. The Good was not consulted, because the scientists developing atomic energy, as most men, were sure that they represented the Good. Then there were also those who, like Werner Von Braun, are brilliant, but are more interested in achieving success in their area of expertise than in any abstract, overarching concept of the Good, which seems metaphysical in any case, and subjects reason and science to values that change with governments and cultural preferences. This is less true for interviews with emerging potentials. Although they are indeed partially conditioned by culture, they are found to represent broader, more inclusive perspectives than both the subject and the culture in which he or she is embedded. This means that scientists who do interviews around their hypotheses are likely to access perspectives that cast their efforts in the evolutionary arc of self, ethical, and empathetic lines. The result is that the natural grounding in the objective quadrants of behavior and systems is balanced by a grounding in the quadrants of culture and consciousness. The result is more likely to be hypotheses that are integral and reflect deep listening instead of being partial and short-sighted, producing problematic, if not outright devastating results.
The Socratic Method, Integral AQAL, and IDL
When we compare the Socratic Method to Wilber’s Integral AQAL, the closest similarity is to his 3-2-1 Shadow work, part of his Integral Life Practice (Dillard 2017a). Wilber has students become manifestations or personifications of life issues and dream characters, as does IDL, and interview them. It is also a question-based approach like the Socratic Method and deals with noospheric imagery, as does IDL, but is not logically-driven, as is the Socratic Method, and assumes interviewed elements are self-aspects, unlike IDL, which suspends that assumption in favor of asking interviewed characters. 3-2-1 Shadow work also has as a purpose the reincorporation of split off, regressed, or fixated “parts” into a broader, healthier sense of self. These motivations, while sharing some similarities to IDL, are also different in important respects, and are even farther from Socratic elenchus or dialectic. This is because Socrates is dealing with people, not characters or self-aspects, and his purpose is clarification for the purpose of disclosing both falsity and truth, not the therapeutic purpose of a higher level integration of self. While Socrates’ purpose is primarily rational and personal in nature, Wilber’s is primarily multi-perspectival with an emphasis on the transpersonal and therapeutic.
While Socrates applied his method to questions of ethics, morality, and social justice, and Wilber’s 3-2-1 Shadow Work, in the tradition of Jung, focuses on self-development, Integral Deep Listening interviewing addresses whatever life issues a student names and whatever subjects an interviewed emerging potential finds worth mentioning. This occurs in a context of deferring to collective rather than self priorities, shifting the priority from self-development to a balancing of self/collective development. The questioning format of IDL uses set protocols and is therefore much more structured in its question and answer format than that of the Socratic Dialog or Wilber’s 3-2-1. However, in terms of logical syllogisms, the Socratic elenchus is much more structured. IDL often includes self-ratings by the interviewed character on six core qualities, most of which Socrates would recognize as virtues, and produces multiple recommendations, which are largely different from logical conclusions that Socrates aimed for. In fact, while the Socratic method aims for the rational, PEMs combine the pre-rational and irrationality of imagery with a rational methodology to access trans-rational framings, worldviews, and perspectives. Socrates would of course argue that Truth, the ultimate goal of elenchus, is similar, in that it transcends the purely rational.
Ways the “paradoxical wisdom” of the Socratic method appear in IDL
If you practice IDL you will be thrown head first into a trans-rational art form that it calls “cosmic humor.” Like Socrates’ claim that the Good lies on the other side of reason, so IDL finds that a broader, richer experience of life lies on the other side of belief and most forms of rationality. Such an approach shares an irritating nature with the Socratic Method, in that both challenge and threaten waking identity and what IDL calls “psychological geocentrism.” While the Socratic Dialectic is more of a direct frontal attack on the self, due to its identification with thinking and its belief that it is rational, IDL takes a playful, whimsical approach to disarm defenses, yet all the while accomplishing a similar end: dismantling resistances to recognizing and adopting broader perspectives. IDL takes the irrational and trivial, like spit, or the stripes in a dream road, seriously, purposely refuses to differentiate between dreaming and waking realities, makes fun of the serious, evil, and holy, respects the stupid and foolish, ignores death, encourages dissociation, refuses to interpret, yet respects the interpretations of clouds and bugs, listens to personifications of pain, disease and trauma, defers to the authority of imaginary dream characters and other self-created fantasies, purposefully confuses truth and falsity, encourages ambiguity, supports moral relativity within a clear hierarchy of growth and values, and finds virtue in the questioning of all virtues. IDL does not do these things in a celebration of perversity or as some sort of statement of intellectual superiority, as the Socratic method sometimes appears to do. These paradoxes are natural products of the method itself.
Anamnesis, the self, self-aspects, and emerging potentials
Plato had Socrates espouse the concept of anamnesis, that all knowledge is remembrance by an immortal, pre-existing self, of eternal truths. Indeed, Socrates saw himself of bringing into awareness unborn, eternal truths, and saw this as a duty elders have to educate youth: “I am a midwife to young men because I bring their souls to birth. I help the inner being, the inner man, to express himself.”
IDL considers pre-existence of a self, and a self other than our socially-constructed identity, to be an assumption to be surfaced and tabled in order to allow interviewed emerging potentials to weigh in with their own perspectives. The result is the disclosure of perspectives that are creative, in that they are novel and not the remembrance of some previous knowledge, whether surfaced from some unconscious or state of pre-existence. This creativity implies that interviewed perspectives contain a greater or lesser component of objectivity and autonomy and are not reducible to self-aspects. Those who would argue that interviewing emerging potentials is indeed a disclosure of the beliefs and the knowledge of the individual who has adopted that perspective, need to listen to the reports of the interviewed elements themselves. According to most interviewed emerging potentials, while they indeed personify this or that characteristic or attribute of the individual, their perspective is significantly autonomous, existing independently of the issues, priorities, beliefs, and perspectives with which the individual identifies. For example, a subject might associate their confusion with a cat-like shifting of focus and an inability to stay centered. This cat-like perspective may then transform itself into a dog-like perspective, which the subject associates with more of a calm and patient focus, at least in relationship to the perspective he or she associates with cats. This potential for calm and patient focus has always existed as a potential within the subject, but cannot be said to “belong” to them, just as we have the potential to travel to Shanghai but it cannot be said that Shanghai thereby belongs to us. The ability to travel to Shanghai is a potential that may or may not be emerging. The potential to shift from cat-like distractedness and confusion to more dog-like patience and calm focus is a potential that is emerging into the life of the subject. Because the ontological value of such perspectives is neither wholly internal to the subject, nor is it external; it is emerging, indicating that these perspectives express not previously known or internally hidden truths, but emergent realities. They are not bubbling out of some pre-existing metaphysical unconscious, preconscious, or subconscious latent state, waiting to be “uncovered.” The importance of this difference from Socrates, Wilber’s 3-2-1, and common assumptions of psychology is that it honors such perspectives for themselves, as a phenomenological statement of respect, without making their existence contingent on someone or something else.
The status of fundamental virtues
Socrates applied his method to questions of ethics, morality, and social justice. Another purpose of Socrates’ method was to disclose core virtues, such as the idea of the Good. He believed the pursuit of ethical virtue was the reason and justification for life and that his method was a means to that end. His were prudence, temperance, courage, and justice and beneath those, truth, goodness, harmony. Similarly, IDL uses its interviewing process to disclose virtues in the form of six core qualities that are derived from six stages of the round of each breath: abdominal inhalation: confidence; chest inhalation: empathy; the pause after inhalation: wisdom; chest exhalation: acceptance; abdominal exhalation: inner peace; and the pause after exhalation: witnessing. Unlike Socrates, it does not reduce these to one primary virtue, but instead emphasizes both the balancing of the six and the appropriate and timely use of each. Different interviewed emerging potentials personify perspectives that emphasize some of these virtues and de-emphasize others. In fact, these six core qualities are only one of seven octaves of values that IDL teaches in its application of pranayama (Dillard, 2017b). Those who score very high in all six virtues are often difficult to assimilate and integrate into waking life, due to the innate elevationism and idealism of a “perfect” perspective.
Socrates views Truth, Goodness, and Beauty as universal absolutes that pre-exist and are to be uncovered by clear thinking and rational argumentation. IDL views values as emerging potentials that exist at every stage of development in healthy and unhealthy forms, not as pre-existing absolutes. The object is to amplify the healthy forms of both truth, love, and beauty, as harmony and inner peace, at whatever stage of development we presently inhabit instead of taking on the Sisyphean task of requiring the intellectual clarity necessary to grasp some ultimate, supreme, trans-rational Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. IDL teaches such acceptance as one of its six core qualities or virtues to be amplified and balanced by everyone, regardless of their ability to reason.
Problematic aspects of the Socratic Method
If you use the Socratic method you will be rational and “right,” and you may be respected for waging intellectual warfare and winning. If you are clever, people will be forced to recognize how smart you are. However, rightness and truth exist at one end of a scale; empathy and love exist at the other end. Socrates appeared to not only recognize this principle, but enlarged upon it by having both Truth and Goodness interact with Beauty, or what we might call harmony or peace. It is indeed a sophisticated formulation, but one that appears to be so transcendental that it loses its grounding in everyday relationships. This is because those who turn rightness and Truth into transcendent absolutes tend to view those who most value love or goodness as overtly invested in the other extreme of that continuum and as obsequious hypocrites lacking backbones, eager to please others by telling whomever they face whatever they want to hear. Certainly this was something Socrates fought against. However, truth seekers like Socrates are generally viewed by those at the empathetic and loving end of the scale as pedantic narcissists who lack empathy and compassion. When Socrates is on trial for heresy and corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens, he uses his method of elenchos to demonstrate to the jurors that their moral values are wrong-headed. He tells them they are concerned with their families, careers, and political responsibilities when they ought to be worried about the “welfare of their souls.” This may have been right and true, but was it loving and compassionate? Was it consensus building or off-putting? Socrates would argue that it was right, because the way to the Good is through reason. Socrates may have believed this, but his life and method tell a different story: he was committed to truth, as the paramount virtue, even at the expense of goodness and beauty.
The consequence of confronting people with the logical inconsistencies of their beliefs is that they can feel attacked and vulnerable. They may get defensive and then counter-attack, generally in ways that are irrational, such as with ad hominem attacks on the questioner, attempting to change the subject, or by coming up with excuses and rationalizations rather than reasons for their position. While this makes them even more wrong, it does not make them any more willing to be reasonable or to learn from someone who makes them feel inadequate. That Socrates never seemed to recognize this clear and fundamental fact about human nature tells us that while he may have been an excellent philosopher, intellectual, and opponent in rhetoric, he was no psychologist. It is no wonder that Socrates alienated the power structure of Athens, because his method made leaders look stupid and ignorant while causing them to feel attacked and vulnerable. His answers could easily be heard as condescension. At one point in his life Socrates had been a soldier and was noted for his bravery in combat. To those on the receiving end of his dialectic, they could feel under assault from a form of intellectual warfare. In truth, they were. By Plato’s accounting, Socrates displayed a seeming lack of empathy combined with intellectual brilliance that is evocative of Asperger’s syndrome, autism, or even personality disorder. People who are exceptional are often, almost by necessity, seriously unbalanced. Could this conclusion apply to Socrates?
This irritating and badgering component of Socrates’ Dialectic shows up in IDL when a person is light-heartedly invited to tell a dream, or share a life issue, and then directed to stay in the persona of a horsefly, badger, or coffee cup. This is not a comfortable thing for many people to do, because our fundamental life scripting has taught us to stay in control. Giving control over to some imaginary perspective while not knowing what is going to happen next feels wildly against internalized social scripting. This is compounded when a subject discovers they have opened something of a Pandora’s Box into and onto issues of deep significance that may be associated with shame, guilt, anxiety, or depression. They may be shocked, embarrassed or overwhelmed by how an innocent game suddenly becomes profoundly relevant, often disclosing realities that the subject had not faced or had not wanted to face. This parallel comes up again when Practitioners of IDL have students commit to identifying and working daily with applying recommendations from their interviews in their daily life, and then being asked for reports on their progress. While there is little doubt that we do better when we set goals, commit to them, and have some accountability structure to keep us focused in our pursuit of them, most of us have a love-hate relationship with accountability. Resistance can easily turn into irritability.
A larger problem is that the Socratic method attempts to teach both truth and morality through intellectual warfare. This reflects several streams in Western thought: the manichaeistic division between right and wrong, good and bad; the importance of competition; a zero-sum approach that only recognizes one solution as the correct one; and virtue as residing primarily within individuals rather than within relationships.
IDL agrees with Karl Popper and Pierre Hadot that Socrates was attempting to get those he was questioning to grasp a concept of goodness that transcends everyday experience. However, IDL does not believe that Socrates’ Dialectic is the most effective method for most people, because it is challenging, confrontational, and aggressive, and therefore likely to elicit defensive and avoidant reactions, as indeed it did in Socrates’ audience. Socrates defines that which is good and loving as only that which can withstand the rigors of rational filtering. If it doesn’t make sense, it can’t be good, even if it feels good and we are personally convinced that it is good. Integral AQAL tends to agree with Socrates on this. It does so when it states that transpersonal development is trans-rational development. That is, access to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful presumes fore-knowledge of reason, logic, and the ability to think things through. If a person cannot, has not, or will not reason, then they may be loving, kind, compassionate, talented, psychic and empathetic, but these characteristics exist in the prepersonal, pre-rational context of belief and faith. Although prerational love is real and good, it is not founded on reason, and therefore for Socrates, not a love that transcends reason, although the experiencer is generally sure that it does. This is because we do not normally differentiate between belief, belief and reason, and experience that transcends and includes both belief and reason. For IDL, the challenge is to develop and use a methodology that finds balance between the two extremes of right and loving.
While it is highly unlikely that Socrates was familiar with the concept of resistance, that is, the natural defensiveness that people express to being attacked, there is abundant evidence that he had first hand experience with its effects. Confronting the interviewed with the inconsistencies in their beliefs and the limitations of their knowledge is more likely to generate resistance than growth. If truth is the object, resistance is a sign truth is present; if growth is the object, resistance is a sign things are moving too fast to be integrated. IDL views resistance itself as a wake-up call to be interviewed. Consequently, because IDL makes a conscious choice to value growth over truth, it prefers to interview and amplify co-existing perspectives that are not stuck in identification with those beliefs and perspectives which limit the growth of the subject.
What are historical strengths and weaknesses of Socrates’ legacy?
Socrates inspired curiosity, questioning, reasoning, and logic, all of which bore amazing fruit in Plato’s student, Aristotle. It is fascinating that Aristotle used Socrates’ concepts and methods to completely different ends. Aristotle had no interest in interrogating others, instead interrogating nature and the motivations behind human action. He universalized and objectified questioning in ways that laid the foundations for science and the questioning of empiricism. While Socrates was wise enough to stick to his principles, with the consequence that he won the respect of his student Plato, who made a lasting place in history for his teacher as not only a philosopher but as a martyr for truth, it seems Socrates was not wise enough to keep from alienating exactly those who held the keys to a greater, lasting influence on Athenians. While Socrates may have ensured his place in history through inspiring his student Plato, his heroic efforts did nothing to stop the rapid decline of Athens as a city state, and with it, bury the prospects of democracy for almost two thousand years.
Students of IDL can learn from Socrates his respect for both questioning, rather than assuming, and logic, as an antidote to prerational faith, belief, and irrationality. Faulty reasoning is one of four forms of cognitive distortion. The others are emotional cognitive distortions and cognitive biases and perceptual distortions, which I have written about in Waking Up (Dillard, 2017c). Socrates was a master at understanding irrationality and employing its antidote, logic, something that most people are not taught. Learning to recognize, avoid, and confront logical fallacies teaches us how to reason, which is a pre-requisite to evolution into any permanent transpersonal, trans-rational level of development. Socrates’ determination to awaken youth to innate truth resembles the emphasis of IDL, through Dreaming Healthy Families, to teach young people how to access their own unique life compass. In addition, interviewing emerging potentials teaches through direct, personal experience a fundamental belief that Socrates’ espoused: “To harm another is to harm oneself,” or the ethical principle of reciprocity. As Socrates taught, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” underlining the importance of introspection for both personal and collective development. While all of us begin in egocentrism, something IDL calls “psychological geocentrism,” and organize our lives largely by the ethnocentric dictates of our family, friends, and affiliations, both Socrates and PEMs push us to graduate into worldcentrism: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”
Clark, G. and Egan, S. 2015. The Socratic Method in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: A Narrative Review. Cognitive Therapy and Research. 39 (6): pp. 863-879
Dillard, J. (2017a). Problematic Aspects of Wilber’s 3-2-1 Shadow Work. IntegralWorld.Net
Dillard, J. (2017b). Seven Octaves of Enlightenment: Integral Deep Listening Pranayama. Berlin: Deep Listening Press.
Dillard, J. (2017c). Waking Up: How to Use Integral Deep Listening to Transform Your Life. Berlin: Deep Listening Press.