Socrates as midwife

Socrates (ca. 470–399 BCE) described himself as an intellectual midwife who helps others give birth to their own wisdom and determine the truth in their own beliefs. This Socratic method, known as maieutics, introduced in Plato’s Theaetetus, is employed to stimulate critical thinking and evoke doubts about commonly held ideas through dialogue and posing questions. In Theaetetus, Socrates finds similarities between his mother’s craft as a midwife and the process of producing truth, which also involves the pain of delivery. Whereas a midwife either induces or relieves the pains of labor to help deliver a child, Socrates assists the soul and helps his interlocutor give birth to an idea.