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By Johannes Helmold

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statue of socratesIn a way, Socrates was the first and last true philosopher. In his day, around 400 BC, he challenged those who had fixed ideas about knowledge itself, making alleged scholars disbelieve their own “facts” through his way of dialogue, which came to be known as The Socratic Method. He is famously quoted saying, “The only thing I know is that I do not know anything.” From this philosophy in mind, he talked to other philosophers and other respected people in Athens, Greece.

But what can we do with The Socratic Method, which challenges us to question even our basic knowledge, in terms of our writing? In writing, we question the community we live in, the definition of who we are, and other factors of existence pertinent to us. Without questioning life itself, writing would be just a form of melody and entertainment.

The best writing questions standards, questions long-standing “knowledge,” and embraces nothing in particular. It shines a light on what has been long understood, but has new facets to it.

Let’s take an example: what it means to be successful. The majority of people tend to believe that being successful is having a nice car, a fancy house, being married, having children, and owning their own well-to-do business. But there are others that think on more spiritual terms: being successful is knowing who you are, truly.

With any great essay, poem, short story, novel, and so on, it is what the author introspects about and questions that makes the writing intriguing and fresh for readers. We can all write about topics that have been explored a billion times, and write about them in the same way the majority of people have. But what is most satisfying in writing is taking on a subject with a new look and questioning its foundation.

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