How Socrates Cafés were created?

Socrates Cafés started in 1996 when a founder and writer Christopher Phillips brought philosophy back onto the streets from its academic debates, just like Socrates. He did this after wondering what he could do to further ennoble the works of ancient philosophers and thus help people to be responsible and do good. He thought that the best way to achieve this was by being a philosopher in the mold of Socrates and having Socratic dialogues with anyone who wanted to participate in a common pursuit of a better understanding of human nature.

What are Socrates Cafés?

Socrates Cafés are gatherings for all people who are willing to break prejudices, eliminate all social divisions, accept a different opinion, and discover a common ground. This is a place where people gather for a cup of coffee and socializing, they use the Socratic method to seek truth about a particular topic and exchange experiences, embracing the idea of questioning themselves and others. Everyone is actively involved in the whole process, and asks himself/herself not only the questions “who am I?” and “who are we?” but also “who can I become?” and “what are we capable of achieving and being?”

Dialogue initiatives within Socrates Cafés intertwine the “component of change” in which everyone is inspired to be the change they want to see in the world. Participants of Socrates Cafés are learning to see similarities and accept differences.

What is the Socratic Questioning Method?

  • The Socratic Method represents any process of asking questions consecutively within a discussion, debate or dialogue.
  • The Socratic Method has three stages – irony, maieutics and definition, whereby irony presents a Socratic attitude “I know that I know nothing” that leads to questioning and reasoning the fact that one who thought he knew, he did not know.
  • Then, Maieutic means maternity/midwifery technique or skill whereby spiritual childbirth and a way of giving birth to knowledge is accomplished by thinking.
  • Therefore, the Socratic Method of the dialogue was called elenchus, which is Greek for inquiry, cross-examination (“common sense” – what we take for granted), which is ultimately a way of seeking truth by your own lights, your own inner self, simple ordinary everyday speech.
  • If it never touches any nerves, if it doesn’t upset, if it doesn’t mentally and spiritually challenge and perplex, it is not Socratic dialogue.
  • According to Socrates, it is almost impossible to know what we believe in and what we all recognize under common sense until we involve others around us in dialogue.

Who can participate in Socrates Cafés?

Everyone can participate in Socrates Cafés. Age, gender, education, religion, nationality, sexual commitment are not important, because everyone can benefit from one’s life experience and wisdom. Those who take part in Socrates Cafés share the sensibilities of a philosopher Socrates who involves a passionate but fictional exchange of ideas and ideals.

Visitors to Socrates Cafés are willing to inspire and cultivate reasonableness, thoughtfulness, imagination, empathy and methods of enquiry where a wide variety of perspectives and remarks are considered. They are willing to observe things, experiment and improve themselves. They are inquisitive, open-minded, curious and playful – like a child.