Word of The Day for Tuesday, May 31, 2011


mai•eu•tic (mey-YOO-tik)  adj

of or pertaining to the method used by Socrates of eliciting knowledge in the mind of a person by interrogation and insistence on close and logical reasoning
maieutics noun; maieutical adjective

1645–55;  from Greek maieutikós  "of, pertaining to midwifery", equivalent to maieú ( esthai ) "to serve as a midwife" (akin to maîa  "midwife") + -tikos -tic


Related Words: Maia, May

Sentence Examples:
• The maieutic question was used to develop propositions which Socrates was trying to establish. The mother of Socrates, as he tells us in the Theaetetus, was a midwife, and his own life-work was intellectual midwifery. It was his function to assist the minds of others to give birth to ideas. The ironical question was destructive; the maieutic was constructive. The one was employed to confute an opponent; the other, to formulate the Socratic doctrines. - Educational foundations, 1907

• The teacher's business is to direct, encourage, and prof a soul until it gives birth to the truth. The maieutic method therefore suggests that since the soul is able to bring the truth out of itself, knowledge is really a kind of recollection or remembrance. If so, then there must have been a previous life in which the soul possessed the knowledge it has forgotten. - The quest for enlightenment, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupa-da

• The gem of the whole paper is contained in a few pages, where he gives an account of his own method of teaching botany to a class of boys by what he truly calls a maieutic process, drawing out intelligence before communicating knowledge, and only imparting formulas where the pupil's mind has come absolutely to yearn for some principle under which to combine its facts. - Contemporary review, 1868


Maieutics is a pedagogical method based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to innate reason but has to be "given birth" by answering intelligently proposed questions (or problems). The word is derived from the Greek [word] pertaining to midwifery.

Sources: Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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