The Socratic method, also called maieutics (from the Greek, which means: technique in assisting in birth, like a midwife), was a form of dialogue between a teacher and his pupil, or between a learned man and one wishing to learn. The method consisted in asking questions so that he who wished to learn would come up with the answer all on himself. The method was also used by Socrates, often, in an ironic manner in order to expose a supposed learned man in his lack of knowledge.

The idea behind maieutics was, like a midwife, to have the person experience the pains of giving birth (curiosity in the thinker), to alleviate this pain (come up with a problem to be solved), and finally give birth (acquire knowledge or gain access to an idea), all mediated by dialogue and debate.

Two remarkable examples of Socrates´ method can be found in two of Plato´s dialogues. The first is not ironic, Meno (where a slave is shown to be capable of comprehending a complicated geometry problem by only being asked questions). The second one is ironic, the Sophist, in which the famous Eleatic Stranger makes it seem that it is impossible to differentiate between a sophist and a lover of wisdom.