Socratic Pedagogy, Race, and Power: From People to Propositions

Peter Boghossian, Portland State University

Copyright (2002) the Author

EPAA/AAPE is a peer-reviewed, open-access, international, multilingual, and multidisciplinary journal designed for researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and development analysts concerned with education policies. EPAA/AAPE accepts unpublished original manuscripts in English, Spanish and Portuguese without restriction as to conceptual and methodological perspectives, time or place. EPAA/AAPE publishes issues comprised of empirical articles, commentaries, and special issues at roughly weekly intervals, all of which pertain to educational policy, with direct implications for educational policy.


Rud (1997) wrote in this journal: " Leaving aside the blatant (to my eyes at least) problems of power and dominance of an elderly Greek citizen teaching a slave boy, this example [the Meno] of teaching has always left me cold." Garlikov (1998) addressed Rud's criticism of the Socratic dialogue. The present article addresses and extends Garlikov's response to cover general notions of power, and shows how these may affect Socratic discourse. Socratic pedagogy is not merely an illusory exercise where participants acquiesce to notions of truth because of power differentials. But power relations play a role in all communicative contexts. However, in Socractic pedagogy the adverse effects of power are greatly reduced and the focus is shifted from people to propositions.