Animated Philosophers Presents a Rocking Introduction to Socrates, the Father of Greek Philosophy

Would there be such a thing as philosophy had there been no such person—or literary character, at least—as Socrates? Surely people the world over have always asked questions about the nature of reality, and come up with all sorts of speculative answers. But the particular form of inquiry known as the Socratic method—a blanket presumption of ignorance—would not have become the dominant force in Western intellectual history without its namesake. And that is, of course, not all. In the work of Socrates’ highly imaginative student, interpreter, and biographer Plato, we find, as Alfred North Whitehead suggested, a “wealth of general ideas” that have made for “an inexhaustible mine of suggestion” for philosophers since antiquity.

As bluesman Robert Johnson did for rock and roll, Socrates more or less single-handedly invented the formulas of Western thought. He might be called the first philosophical rock star—and judging by the Guns N’ Roses soundtrack to the animated video above, the producers of the Greek Public Television series Animated Philosophers seem to feel the same. Dubbed into English, and with character animation that owes more than a little to South Park, this episode makes the case for Socrates’ importance to philosophy as tantamount to Christ’s in Christianity. Overstated? Perhaps, but the argument is by no means a thin one.>>

College students claim they’ll pay attention in class if professors cut the lectures and make class more engaging, but former Utah Valley University business professor Steven Maranville found out the hard way that’s not always the case. Seniors in Maranville’s “capstone” business strategies course complained because he didn’t lecture enough. After a year on the job, citing negative student course evaluations, the university denied Maranville tenure. Now Maranville, who left a tenured faculty position at the University of Houston to teach at UVU, has filed suit against the school.

What was going on in Maranville’s classroom that generated such a backlash? He says he simply required students to do what most employers wish colleges would do: connect academic concepts to the real world. To facilitate that process, Maranville used the Socratic method, creating classroom dialogue by asking students open-ended questions that necessitated creative thought and participation—even if they hadn’t raised their hands. He also required them to work in teams and participate in small-group discussions during class time.

“I’m not in this business to just give degrees. I want students to learn,” Maranville told the The Salt Lake Tribune. “Students told me they had never been asked to do this kind of work before and weren’t about to do it now. They have families and jobs and don’t have time to do this.”

Michael Apple, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin, told Inside Higher Education that the Socratic method is increasingly unpopular on college campuses “because we are in a test-based education system.” Students are no longer used to such a process-oriented way of learning, and are “increasingly impatient where the answer is not clear and when the professor is not giving it to them immediately,” Apple told the website.

If students give negative course evaluations to professors who refuse to simply lecture and give multiple choice exams, professors won’t take the risk of upping the intellectual ante. If that happens—or if Maranville’s situation is more common than we know—colleges run the risk of becoming nothing more than diploma mills. And that won’t be good for anyone.


Every time that I look out of my window … and see those damn, amazing, baffling, breath-taking clouds of a sunset … I tell myself, you must be living in a dream.

Who is dreaming this dream? Will we ever know? Will we notice when the dreamer wakes up? Will we vanish?

What happens when we sleep? Are we creating? Where are we dreaming? Where’s our mind and its image?

Did I ever create such beautiful clouds?

Who dreamed first?

And what’s it worth, living in a dream?

I aspire to become rich. But then, when I look at those clouds, it’s so insignificant.

Everything is. They are just up there. It’s a naive thing to say somebody must’ve put them there. Sure. But …

Maybe I feel that those clouds are a part of myself. I want to know what they think, feel.

Could I be the one dreaming this dream?

Tell me, are you real?

Are we sharing a dream?

And if so, can we alter it? It is our dream.

And can I alone alter it?

I stare at them, but I hear no voice answering me.

What is the Socratic Method?

Socratic Method is a dialectic method of inquiry, that uses cross-examination of someone’s claims and premises in order to reveal out a contradiction or internal inconsistency among them.

 Socratic questioning is at the heart of critical thinking – they enhance your critical thinking skills. Socratic questions challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal.

The primary learning goal of Socratic method is to explore the contours of often difficult issues and to learn critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is the process we use to reflect on, access and judge the assumptions underlying our own and others ideas and actions.

Six Types of Socratic Questions