Einstein and Socrates
Two historically powerful systems of thought combined

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

Two systems of thought and perception, through history, have been associated with, and have brought about, very high levels of mental, intellectual and aesthetic performance and experience—the human mind functioning at its finest. These two systems are known today as Socratic Method and Einsteinian "Deep Thought Experiment."

In the Project Renaissance program, and in most Project Renaissance publications, these two systems are combined into far more productive and powerful wholes that are far easier to use than is either method separately.

In this section of the Project Renaissance website we provide you with free, comprehensive, step-by-step instructions for learning and practicing several of these problem-solving techniques. In-depth studies of these subjects are also available in our books. See the Book Reviews section.

Einsteinian "Deep Thought Experiment" Discovery Technique
Some researchers credit 90 to 95% of the major discoveries made during the past two centuries to Einstein-style visual thinking, though the method became public only in the 1930s and 1940s when Albert Einstein popularized it. Examples:

o Kekule's doze about a circle of tail-to-mouth snakes in his fireplace taught him the structure of the benzine ring, basis of all organic chemistry.

o Elias Howe's nightmare of cannibals attacking, whose spears happened to have holes in their heads, gave him his aha! for the long-sought sewing machine.

o Niccola Tesla's in-head visual predictions gave us part of an entire major industry and way of life.

o And, of course, it was Einstein's "train ride on a beam of light" which taught him—and us—his theories of Relativity which remade the whole of physics and helped remake the whole of science.

Einstein's method antedated him by centuries and may have been invented in Renaissance times. Einstein, however, was first to openly advocate, practice and popularize the method of running a visualization and observing it closely to see what one can discover from it.

His method had some drawbacks, however. It required a personal discipline which seems to be beyond the immediate reach of most people; and, like recording a dream before it fades, it was too easy to lose the details of what happened by the time one came back from the experience to tell about it.

Once we add another system, though, combining Socratic Method with the Einsteinian, matters become very different. We have many new systems, most of which can be used easily, effectively, and productively by virtually everyone, whatever his/her current level of intellect and of personal discipline, or lack thereof.


Socratic Method
This name is given to any technique which induces the learner to examine his/her internal and external perceptions and to describe in detail what s/he discovers there:
o Describe anything in detail while you are examining it—describe it aloud, to a listener, and, while examining, describe what you are perceiving, and you will discover more and more and more about what you are describing.

o This Principle of Description is the operating instruction for how to realize Walt Whitman's dictum, that if you observe closely enough even an ordinary blade of grass, you will discover the universe. Whitman's dictum was more than metaphor; it is literal, provided that you describe in enough detail to your listener while you are looking very closely.....

o Fully as significant as this effect on particular perceptions is the effect of such describing on the behavior of perceiving and on the perceiver himself. For example:

A method popular in Europe for training ordinary people into being sophisticated, sensitive winetasters or perfume testers, is: to provide that person a sample, and he is to describe rapid-fire everything that comes into mind, for some minutes. Then another sample, and again he describes rapid-fire for some minutes everything that comes to mind or awareness or imagination. Then a third sample.... Keep up three days of this activity, sustained, and reportedly that ordinary person has developed the sensitivities of a professional perfume tester or wine taster.

The first schools in our Western cultural tradition were those of ancient Greece. Those schools were not for the purpose of benefitting students, nor even to promulgate a particular "school of thought." Their main purpose was to provide the leading thinkers and perceivers with quality audiences to whom to describe their perceptions, in order to develop those perceptions even further. The Sophists and especially Socrates would return this favor and draw out their listeners in turn. Their doing so, and the various ways they did so, became known as "Socratic Method."

For 2200 years, classical Socratic Method induced the learner to examine his internal and external perceptions and to describe what he discovered there. Historically, this practice was always accompanied by such huge miracle leaps of perception, understanding and growth that all its main practitioners became convinced that all knowledge and understanding are already within each learner and need merely be "drawn forth." This "Socratic miracle" was frequent enough for the "drawing-forth" theory to have such currency that, for 2200 years, "education" itself became named after that idea—"educare" means "to draw forth."

During those 2200 Socratic years, from a population base of but a few thousand citizens—most of whom soldiered or sold olives or politicked or followed other such interests and pursuits—nonetheless, Classical Greece produced more cultural giants and geniuses than have all of Earth's 5 billion people during this past half-century.

Likewise, from a population base of but a few hundred thousand citizens allowed access to culture-related ways of living, Renaissance Europe radically out-produced our 5 billion in geniuses and cultural giants. But then, we are no longer on Socratic education but on didactic teaching.

The drawback of the classical Socratic method, with its acute questioning of 1 to 2 students, or fierce argument with maybe a half-dozen, was that it could be practiced with only a few at a time while the remainder of a large group or class grew restless. Yet any procedure which has people examine their perceptions and describe at length, in detail, what they discover there, creates the Socratic miracle effect.

Surprisingly, many of the modern versions of Socratic Method work better the more students or participants there are at a time in a group. Hundreds of such techniques have now been published, most of them by Project Renaissance, and with most of these, with a mere tape recorder if live listeners aren't close to hand, any individual who can read and follow specific printed instructions can evoke Socratic miracle effects for himself or herself. Yet we've gone even a step further than that.....

The combination of Einsteinian and Socratic Methods
By combining Einsteinian and Socratic methods, Project Renaissance has given rise to many forms of modern Post-Einsteinian Discovery Technique, most of these currently found in the Project Renaissance program but a few also beginning to show up elsewhere.

In these modern combinations of the two systems, we perform Einstein-like "Deep Thought Experiments" but describe our perceptions aloud, in detail, a la Socrates, while we are observing them. This simple act brings an amazing wealth of further details and perceptions that often lead to fresh discoveries even upon first use of the technique.

Further differences: We deliberately program for the unexpected, the Surprise!! to happen in these experiences. This improves accuracy by helping us move beyond the "ought-to-be" expectations which stand between us and the fresh perceptions we need for ingenious, creative answers. The whole point of either Einsteinian or Socratic approach is to enable our subtler, richer faculties to show us what we ordinarily would fail to see and which is the answer to our quest, question or line of investigation.

Applications of these combinations can serve everywhere, in every field and discipline and in all areas of personal life as well. Project Renaissance's applications in creative solution-finding and in self-help are but the barest beginnings of what looks to be an entire new Renaissance breaking upon us!


Project Renaissance welcomes individuals who would like to become a trainer in any of these programs. Trainer training is available for certification. Communicate your interest to Project Renaissance.

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