Socrates and Rene Descartes did everything possible to contribute to the development of philosophy in their own way. Methodological doubt and the dialectical method represent the core of the development of philosophy and its further integration in social performance. There is an underlying need to understand the differences between the two methods, their significance, and the nature of philosophy (public or private).
Differences between Methods
Methodological doubt, introduced by Rene Descartes, aims to search for certainty by means of doubting everything in the surrounding world. According to Descartes’ point of view, if it is possible to doubt any process or phenomenon, then all other processes are also questionable. The method obtained its definition thanks to the systematic completeness. In addition, there is no guarantee that everyone has the same way of doubting the same phenomena. Methodological doubt nourishes human mind with considerations, doubts, interest, and conversations aiming to find the truth in different statements (Brandhorst, 2010). The point of the method lies in the philosopher’s hope to help others find certainties in the surrounding world by means of personal evaluation and consideration of every phenomenon. In this way, Rene Descartes emphasized the need to make philosophy private for every individual in order to promote knowledge development based on personal experience and way of thinking.
The dialectical method, introduced by Socrates, has a different goal and aims to unite collective thinking into a system helping to find the truth behind every statement. An argumentative dialogue involving individuals with different points of view is the key element of the method. The goal of the method lies in contrasting two opposite points of view and encouraging the defenders of personal opinions to prove that their way of thinking is right (Plato & Gallop, 1997). In simple words, the goal of the dialectical method is in weakening the opinion and arguments of another defender. In this way, Socrates aimed to find wisdom in the discussion of common topics with the help of logical explanations and supporting arguments.
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Significance of Philosophy
In the case of the method introduced by Socrates, it is necessary to emphasize that another person is always the key to certainty and the truth. The involvement of other individuals in a conversation is the main peculiarity of the dialectical method. The significance of the method lies in the development of the series of questions regarding the topic in order to generate the truth behind a conversation. The questions are supposed to engage members of a group in a conversation based on their way of thinking. The significance of the dialectical method also lies in the willingness of Socrates to define the consistency of individuals’ beliefs with beliefs of others by means of dialogue (Plato, 1953). As a result, group thinking became the key element in the philosophy of Socrates, who strove to find the truth in collective thinking and argumentation.
In terms of methodological doubt, Rene Descartes considered personal way of thinking of every individual along with the set of knowledge and experience gained during a lifetime. A dialogue within personal mind is the main source of wisdom according to methodological doubt. The significance of the method is in its intention to doubt every phenomenon in order to find the truth. It means that doubts are the source of questions encouraging every individual to seek for certainty in everything. Finally, the founder of the method supported personal approach according to the ability to find the goal of self-existence thanks to the thinking processes. As a result, the method became the core of mental development and self-exploration of every individual.
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The Nature of Philosophy
Two different methods imply opposite approaches towards knowledge improvement and self-actualization by means of thinking. In the case of Socrates, it is logical to have philosophy as a public activity, while in the case of Descartes, it is necessary to make philosophy a private activity. In both cases, the goal of philosophy remains the same – to find the truth in doubtful and questionable processes. Nevertheless, it is necessary not to focus on a single approach, but make philosophy both public and private. By virtue of the collaboration of two different methods, it is possible to boost the process of finding certainty and sharing it with others. At the same time, every individual will still have an opportunity to consider the topic on his or her own without the need to engage in the argumentative discussion. Since the contemporary community lives in the era of wide-spread democracy and freedom of human rights, it becomes obvious that both approaches to philosophy are appropriate.
As for the political implications, it is possible to consider two different outcomes of combining the dialectical method and methodological doubt. On the one hand, the politics may encourage an active discussion of various processes and phenomena in groups reaching different sizes. On the other hand, it may become a threatening factor to the security of the society. As long as there are no limits in topics to consider during collective thinking sessions, in terms of the contemporary development, the outcomes of such activities can be unpredictable. However, the society shows positive tendencies on the way to self-improvement and evolution. In general, the proposed way of leading a philosophical conversation should benefit social awareness of different problems and ways of finding solutions to them.
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The discussion showed that there are significant differences between methodological doubt and the dialectic method. Rene Descartes and Socrates were both right in emphasizing the essence of their approaches to finding the truth. However, it is necessary to consider the combination of both methods in order to promote social development and evolution