Difference Between Socratic Seminary and Philosophical Chair with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

Key Difference – Socratic Seminar vs Philosophical Chair      

Socratic Seminar and Philosophical Chair are two dialectical methods that promote students’ critical thinking skills. A Socratic seminar is a structured discussion that involves asking and answering questions, while a philosophical lecture is an activity that uses a debate format to discuss two opposite sides of an issue. The key difference between Socratic Seminar and Philosophical Chair is that Socratic Seminar focuses on a text, while Philosophical Chair focuses on a controversial topic.                                                             Difference Between Socratic Seminary and Philosophical Chair

What is the Socratic Seminary?

The Socratic seminar is a dialectical method that is based on Socrates’ belief in the power of asking questions. It involves asking and answering questions to encourage critical thinking and to prolong underlying ideas and assumptions. The main purpose of this method is to reach a shared understanding through discussion; It does not involve debate, persuasion or personal reflection.

Socratic seminars are based on textual analysis and discussion. An ideal text for discussion should be rich in ideas and values, and fundamentally ambiguous. It must also offer complexity and challenge and be relevant to the participants. It is also important that students study and annotate the text before the discussion so that they have time to think and prepare for the discussion.

The discussion often begins with an open-ended question, usually asked by the discussion leader or the teacher. A leader in a Socratic seminar is a facilitator who guides other participants to deepen, clarify, different points of view and keep the discussion focused on the topic. The open question does not have a correct answer, and generally leads to new questions, deepening the discussion. Questions in a Socratic seminar can ask for clarification, probe assumptions, explore reasons and evidence, introduce varied points of view and perspectives, and investigate implications and consequences. Common questions in a Socratic seminar may include

Why do you say that?

Can you say that another way?

Where do you find that idea in the text?

How can you prove or disprove that assumption?

What are the consequences of that assumption?

What is the philosophical chair?

The philosophical chair is another type of discussion, which is somewhat similar to a debate. The classroom is usually divided into two sections, and students are given a topic, usually a controversial philosophical proposition that they must choose to agree or disagree with. Students must choose one side and sit in the opposite rows. The discussion is initiated by a student in the professional group, which gives him reasons for reaching an agreement. Then a member of the opposing section must give their reasons for the disagreement. Likewise, each student has the opportunity to present their point of view. If someone changes his mind in the course of the discussion, he is free to switch sides. At the end of the discussion, students should be able to explain their points of view, as well as opposing points of view.

This activity helps students to think critically and learn to be open minded and accept different perspectives. The goal of the exercises is to teach students to be fair and open. Below are some themes for philosophical chairs.

Students must be able to work without parental consent by age 16.

Men can take care of both children and women.

War is inevitable.

Drug legalization would lead to fewer crimes.

Lying is not a sin.

Who should you vote for president? – Clinton or Trump

What is the difference between Socratic Seminary and Philosophical Chair?


Socratic Seminar is strictly a discussion.

Philosophical chair It uses a format similar to the debate.


Socratic seminar involves questions and answers.

Philosophical chair involves two opposite sides.


Socratic seminar focuses on a text.

Philosophical chair It focuses on a controversial topic.


Socratic Seminar aims to foster critical thinking and achieve a deep and shared understanding of a text.

Philosophical Chair aims to teach students to be fair and open-minded.

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