Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: May 30, 2021, 6:53 a.m. Humanist 35.55 - questioning

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 55.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-05-29 16:36:06+00:00
        From: Geoffrey Rockwell <>
        Subject: Fwd: [Humanist] 35.47: question about questioning

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.47: question about questioning
Date: Fri, 28 May 2021 10:02:33 -0600
From: Geoffrey Rockwell <>
To: Willard McCarty <>

Dear Willard,

There is a long tradition of philosophical questioning, of which the
Socratic method of questioning is the best known. In the Meno we see
Socrates demonstrate how he can elicit knowledge from Meno through
questioning. Elicitation of knowledge by questioning is
Of course, we read of the Socratic example in Plato’s dialogues. There
are other examples of Socratic questioning in dialogue. There is
Xenophon and Aristophanes. Even in Plato we see different uses and
styles of questioning. Later we have the Ciceronian style of questioning
that was very influential (think Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural
Religion.) In short, you might step back from the question to ask about
the dialogue and ask how we enter into dialogue with a model or what we
leave the dialogue with.

For a different view of dialogue, here is a quote from a satirical
dialogue by Lucian of Samosata, "The Double Indictment” in which
Rhetorica and Dialogue are themselves characters:

Rhetoric: Having conceived an inordinate affection for that bearded man
in the mantle, Dialogue, who is said to be the son of Philosophy and is
older than he (Lucian of Samosata) is, he lives with him. Showing no
sense of shame, he has curtailed the freedom and the range of my
speeches and has confined himself to brief, disjointed questions: and
instead of saying whatever he wishes in a powerful voice, he fits
together and spells out short paragraphs, for which he cannot get hearty
praise or great applause from his hearers, but only a smile, or a
restrained gesture of the hand, an inclination of the head, or a sigh to
point his periods.

So what is dialogue?


Geoffrey Rockwell


> On May 27, 2021, at 11:16 PM, Humanist <> wrote:
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 47.
>        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                               Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                Submit to:
>        Date: 2021-05-27 11:26:33+00:00
>        From: Willard McCarty <>
>        Subject: question about questioning
> Let's say that the recursive process of constructing, implementing,
> running and revising a model of something (i.e. modelling) is a kind of
> open-ended questioning. For a better grasp of modelling, what help
> might we be able to get from looking into the role of questioning in the
> context of research? Those here who have taught students about how
> to do research will likely have told them that good questions are those
> that lead to better ones. (If anyone here knows a source for that old
> saying, I'd be glad to know it.)
> But how does that happen? How do we come up with a good question?
> Who has written insightfully about that, not about the linguistic structure
> of interrogatives nor the role of questioning in conversation &c but about
> how good questions are conceived?
> Suggestions welcome!
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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