How Might Socrates Provide Access to Fourth Degree Accountability?

The Greek philosopher, Socrates, recorded a timeless method for discovery that is useful to this day – the Socratic method. His system of inquiry may provide a gateway to enlightenment and Fourth Degree of Illumination accountability. Inquiry is essential to awareness – you must ask to receive enlightenment.

Socrates’ questioning helped him understand himself, others, and the world. He used them to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. I find these questions relevant today as I explore myself in a First-Second Degree bubble. Seeking to expand my perspective beyond the bubble, I pass through Third Degree choice into Fourth Degree Accountability expressed as gratitude, the Aha Zone.

Socratic Questions

Let’s take a look at Socrates’ questions to get an idea of why I find them so useful. I’ve used these questions to increase my reading speed and improve my reading comprehension. I might also use these questions in a meditation where I investigate some belief I wish to challenge. They may help me understand and sort out my own inner dialogs. I like their underlying usefulness to “question everything!” I might apply the following in a conversation with myself and or somewhat else.

  1. Questions of Clarification
    • Examples:
      • “What do you mean when you say that?”
      • “How does that work?”
      • “Specifically…?”
  2. Questions that Probe Assumptions
    • Examples:
      • “What does the word, ‘that’ refer to when you say, ‘I understand that.’?”
      • “Are you referring to a specific person in a group when you say you understand them?”
  3. Questions that Probe Reasons and Evidence
    • Examples:
      • “How would you verify or disprove your contention that those people are dangerous?”
      • “What are your reasons for believing that?”
      • “What evidence do you have to support that idea?”
  4. Questions about Viewpoints or Perspectives
    • Examples:
      • “Suppose you could view this from another perspective. What would you think then?”
      • “How would you view this from another perspective?””
  5. Questions that Probe Implications and Consequences
    • Examples:
      • “What would happen to the world were I/you to believe this?”
      • “What are you implying when you say that?”
  6. Questions about the Question
    • Examples:
      • “Why am I asking this question?”
      • “How else might I ask this question?”
      • “Does this question address what I want to understand?”
      • “What questions does this question induce?”

When I apply the above type questions to my own inner dialog, I find clarity and sometimes inspiration. Inspiration is the essential characteristic of Third Degree of Illumination choice – the “flash of inspiration” one gets when the mind is clear of bubble cruft.

Simplified Socrates?

We propose a simplified method of questioning that includes those that start with,

  • “What… is that, is my judgement, and etc.?”
  • “How… do I feel, did that work, will I respond, and etc.?”
  • “Why… is that so, do I believe that, and etc.?”
  • “Who… am I to believe that, am I as a result, and etc.?”

After asking the above questions, I might explore:

  • “What else…?”
  • “How else…?”
  • “Why else…?”
  • “Who else…?”

Resources:

Empathy and Respect Inside the Bubble

Inside my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble, I perceive you separate from me, us separate from them. Even when we are we, as in a tight relationship, I distinguish each of us as separate individuals! I crusade for, create, and fortify alliances with others to assist me in defending my reality as THE reality. This the result of a separation hallucination.

From a Fourth Degree of Illumination perspective, everyone and everything in my perceptual world represent aspects of ONE individual – ME. To understand that concept, I may wish to connect with “others” – metaphoric, representational aspects of that ONE.

Through the vehicle of empathy, I can connect to aspects of me in all the myriad ways I present myself in my perceptual reality. I can extend empathy and realize a more expanded reality – one that recognize separation for the illusion it is. I might view empathy as an invitation to more fully understand the ONE that is ME.

Connecting Values to Extend Empathy

Dr. Robb Willer in a TED talk proposes that one can connect with another through shared values. He suggests we use values to extend empathy. Paraphrasing, when I appreciate your values and understand them in the way you do, I can connect to you in a meaningful way. When I connect through our values, I may discover a source of my perceptual separation and an opportunity for re-unity.

As a political activist, social scientist, and researcher, Dr. Robb Willer supports the idea that like-minded individuals tend to extend empathy to each other – what evolutionary psychologists call tribalism. A bias for tribal associations causes us to favor the opinions of those in the in-group and discount those of the out-group. We see this playing out everyday in American politics. That same separation illusion appears in me as perceptions of human cruelty, blame, terrorism, and justifications for and acceptance of genocide – and much more.

Connecting the Dots

This disconnect between competing values is the essence of the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble.

To begin the process of “connect the dots” I might exercise one of my human “superpowers” – imagination. I can pretend I am both sides of an issue. I am you AND I am me. Imagine what it might be like to espouse another person’s beliefs and values in a scenario in which they are the “good guys” in an issue. Willer suggests I connect by applying the same value I hold for some other issue to their value concerning the issue in controversy. Value to same value.

Using Willer’s TED example, a conflict might arise when I espouse a more liberal view than my neighbor who espouses a more conservative view. When we discuss a divisive issue, I may tend to favor values of equality and fairness while he might base his arguments more heavily on moral values.

People are willing to fight and die for their [moral] values. Why are they going to give that up just to agree with you on something that they don’t particularly want to agree with you on anyway? If that persuasive appeal that you’re making to your Republican uncle means that he doesn’t just have to change his view, he’s got to change his underlying values, too, that’s not going to go very far. (Willer)

Remember – ALL the values on ALL sides of the issue are MINE – they only appear to apply to other people. Even the values themselves are an artifact of the separation illusion and do not exist as I perceive them – if at all.

Connection

To connect with my neighbor, I connect with his values as MY values. To do that, I respect his values as valid. Then I can extend empathy, in which I begin the process of dissolving the perception of separation into connection. That within-the-bubble empathy still validates a perception of separation because I’ve “extended” it to someone else – a someone I perceive as not me. Still, it is a step closer to complete dissolution of the separation illusion.

Connecting with the characters in my world offers me an opportunity to delve more deeply into the source of that world – the ONE that is ME. And isn’t that the point?

Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Might I be able to identify a personality type by dominant usage of Third Degree of Illumination question type? Referring to our 4-question model of inquiry:

  • A What type might focus more on things, ideas, etc.;
  • A How type might focus more on ways and means, goals, and methodologies – engineering;
  • A Why type might focus more on emotions, empathy, and certainty;
  • A Who type might focus more on interpersonal relationships, authoritarianism, etc. –

Might a long list of personality characteristics be made from these? I wonder.

Read more Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Presuppositions Expose Hidden Information

A presupposition is an underlying unexpressed assumption that supports the logic of a behavior. I often ask myself, “What are the presuppositions (assumption defenses) s/he’s using that I’m perceiving and not perceiving?!” I like to follow that up with, “What do these assumptions tell me about who I believe am?” and, “Who am I that would presuppose these things?”

I wonder what my presuppositions might mean in a world of my own creation – my waking dream. First things first – investigating what I might presuppose in this “wonder” statement, I assume that:

  1. there may be no such thing as an objective observation or report because I filter (taint) everything through my biases, prejudices, and beliefs. I give Fox News less credibility than I do CNN, for example. Thus…
  2. there are presuppositions and they hold meaning for me.
  3. I create my perceptions of my world.
  4. I am awake and that which I am perceiving is a dream alike in nature to the experience I have in a sleeping dream state.
  5. there are even more presuppositions that I missed!

That’s a helluva lot of information extracted from a simple sentence!

Read more Presuppositions Expose Hidden Information

Communicating Secret Signals

I’m sitting at my big kitchen window, watching the activity in the back yard. A flock of blackbirds have gathered in one of the larger trees. Although I can’t hear them, I intuitively know they are communicating amongst themselves. I ponder to myself, “I wonder what they are thinking right now…” and, “What secret signals might they be communicating to me?”

I, too, have secret signals. My body, for example, speaks to me all the time – perhaps mostly in vain attempts to get my conscious attention. It speaks in the language of sensation – interpreting electromagnetic waves to which my senses are attuned and my brain make sense to present me with a picture of my world, including my body.

That doesn’t seem so secret to me – when I feel pain, it’s no secret, I can assure you! I’m quite aware that my body is speaking. I listen, though often with the intent to fix rather than to understand.

Read more Communicating Secret Signals