Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 7, 2017 is:
maieutic • \may-YOO-tik\ • adjective
“The maieutic art of Socrates consists, essentially, of asking questions designed to destroy prejudices; false beliefs which are often traditional or fashionable beliefs; false answers, given in the spirit of ignorant cocksureness.” — Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, 1962
“Montaigne wrote as a kind of maieutic exercise, a way of drawing his thoughts into the light of day, of discovering what he wanted to say as he said it.” — James Somers, The Atlantic, 21 Dec. 2010
Did you know?
Maieutic comes from maieutikos, the Greek word for “of midwifery.” In one of Plato’s Dialogues, Socrates applies maieutikos to his method of bringing forth new ideas by reasoning and dialogue; he thought the technique analogous to those a midwife uses in delivering a baby (Socrates’ mother was a midwife). A teacher who uses maieutic methods can be thought of as an intellectual midwife who assists students in bringing forth ideas and conceptions previously latent in their minds.