Socratic Discussion Group is back

08 June 2016

‘What is novelty and how important is it?’ was the first topic debated in this year’s Socratic Discussion Group at the Hellenic Museum. 

Over 30 people made their way into the Henson Gallery on the first floor of the Museum to argue using a version of Socrates’ method.

Facilitated by Dr Christopher Gribbin, University of Melbourne, the Socratic Discussion Group is a chance for people to come together and have a conversation in the style of the ancient philosopher Socrates.  It is a unique and stimulating experience that helps you think about contemporary issues in a different way and to have a conversation where you can really hear what the other person has to say. 

“We had a great turn out for the first session, with people enthusiastically exploring the topic in all kinds of ways,” said Dr Christopher Gribbin.

“Some groups considered novelty in their personal lives, some looked at novelty in politics and some people talked about novelty in literature. Some groups considered whether only good things counted as novelty. Some people saw novelty as a continuum and some restricted it to things that were very different to anything they'd experienced before. In every case, people got to talk with other people to play around with these ideas and take some time to think about the importance of novelty in their lives.”

The discussion groups allow you to have a focused conversation, to understand different perspectives and to think about issues in new ways. It also ensures that everyone has a chance to participate and that the night is thought-provoking as well as entertaining. Anyone is welcome to take part; no background in philosophy or Socratic argument is required.

“One of the great joys of the Socratic method is that it helps people to explore each other's ways of looking at the world. We had a great mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds and ages. That made for an interesting night where everybody could walk away having learnt something about someone else,” said Dr Gribbin. 

In June, the topic will be ‘What is memory? How do our memories shape who we are? How do cultural memories shape our society?’

The Socratic Discussion Group is held in the Henson Room – a gallery that houses the installation ONEIROI. ONEIROI is a photographic series by Australian artist Bill Henson. Nine portraits in the collection incorporate priceless treasures from the Hellenic Museum’s award winning Benaki collection, Gods, Myths & Mortals.

Dates for the Socratic Discussion Group in 2016 are: Tuesday 28 June; Tuesday 26 July; Tuesday 30 August; and Tuesday 27 September. If you have any questions, you can contact Christopher on or call the Hellenic Museum on 8615 9016.

Each Socratic Discussion Group starts at 6:30 pm and finishes at 8:00pm.  $10 entry includes light refreshments.