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AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: Socratic Dialogue 'What is my responsibility to my community?', London 1 June 2013, St. Marys University College, London


You are cordially invited to take part in a Socratic Dialogue on the question 'What is my 
responsibility tomy community?'. The costs for participating are 10, and include coffee, 
tea, cake, and lunch. Students, unemployed,  etc. can pay the reduced fee of 1 pound. The 
facilitators will be Sarah Banks (Durham) and Marije Altorf (St. Marys University College).

For directions, please see the website of the University College 

For more information and enrolment, please contact Marije Altorf 
(e-mail:, tel.: 020 8240 2351.

What is Socratic Dialogue?
Socratic Dialogue is a method of philosophical enquiry, first designed by the German philosopher 
Leonard Nelson (1882-1927) and further developed by his students, especially Gustav Heckmann 
(1898-1996). Nelson was a German mathematician and philosopher who, inspired by Socrates, 
Immanuel Kant and Kant-interpreter Jakob Fries created his own Socratic method.

Socratic dialogue allows for a very different way of engaging with philosophical issues. Rather 
than gathering evidence and thought from other resources, participants in a Socratic dialogue 
test their own ideas. You do not need to be a philosopher to take part. You only need to be 
prepared to use your reason and be willing to revisit positions.

Socratic dialogues in the Nelson tradition often (but not always, and not necessarily) have 
the following form. A small group of people (ideally between six and twelve) share an interest 
in a philosophical (or mathematical) question. By a philosophical question is meant a question 
that can be answered by the use of reason alone. Examples of such questions are: What is 
friendship? What are the limits of tolerance? What is courage? What is a just decision? Are 
there unselfish acts? Am I allowed to lie? How do I know that a statement is correct? What 
is professional integrity? and, What is learning?. Guided by a facilitator, who - unlike 
Socrates - does not take part in the content of the dialogue, participants investigate this 
question through an example given by one of the participants from his or her own experience. 
This example is one which interests the other participants and which they can recognise. By 
discussing this example they try to form a judgment, which will then need to be verified.
Through this process participants learn intellectual virtues like revisiting ones ideas, 
trusting doubt, listening to one another, persistency, etc. In Nelsons Socratic dialogue this 
pursuit involves all participants, who function as each others midwives.

For more information on Socratic Dialogue, see