Imitate Socrates and Jesus: Maieutic Methods of Philosophical Protagonists

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From Socrates, Jesus, Nasruddin, to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, philosophical protagonists invite us to consider the abstract and the absurd, the paradoxical and the provocative. This paper explores what makes philosophical narratives philosophical, and in turn how their protagonists encourage critical thinking. Socrates, Jesus, Nasruddin, and others are considered as their main character role in philosophical parables, with characteristics named to identify commonalities, and those characteristics compared to examine whether their similarities are essential to their role as provocateur. With the use of paradox, irony, absurdity, challenging social norms, opposing values, allegory, presenting paradigms, and proposing meaning, philosophical narratives share an openness to interpretation. The interpretative freedom of the philosophical narrative is explored to understand how it provokes thinking and invites playfulness in meaning making.


46th Annual Conference of the Semiotic Society of America (SSA)


College of Arts and Sciences


Kathryn Hamm's (alternate name: Kathryn Cook) ORCID ID is 0000-0002-0224-6616

Paper presented at the 46th Annual Conference of the Semiotic Society of America, October 12-16, 2022, Virtual.

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