In the book ‘The Philosophical Conversation. The basics’ (2024) several exercises can be found. Below one simple exercise is explicated. For other exercises, see: https://socratischgesprek.be/exercises/?lang=en

Simple basic exercise in critical thinking: Plato’s cave – musical chairs 

This exercise on arguing is a playful and very low-threshold doing exercise. It is suitable for a group of children/young people who like to play. It is also an introductory exercise. The participants learn the basics: how to express a point of view, how to distinguish between a point of view and an argument, how to give an argument, how to question an argument. 

The exercise is called ‘Plato’s Cave’ because it focuses on the distinction between the world of visible things and that of invisible things. You can also introduce the exercise by telling the story of Plato’s cave very briefly. It can then function, for example, as a first introduction to the world of philosophy. 

Target group and objectives

The exercise is suitable for groups of up to 30 and can be played from the age of 6.


The participants: 

-playfully learn the difference between the world of visible, tangible, everyday things and the world of ideas, as expressed in conceptions;

-get to know each other better.

Time and supplies

Minimum fifteen minutes, no maximum. A circle of chairs. There is one chair less than the number of participants. It is important that there is enough space around the circle.


The group sits in a circle with chairs, one of which is missing. Someone stands in the middle and formulates a statement, for example: ‘Anyone who wears laces in their shoes must change seats’. Whoever meets this criterion (round 1 or 2) or agrees with the statement (round 3) has to find another seat as quickly as possible. The speaker in the middle must also find a seat as soon as possible after speaking. The slowest participant has to come and stand in the middle and answer the next criterion.

There are three rounds:

First round (at the front of the cave): only things that are visible here and now (e.g. ‘everyone with black trousers must change places’).

Second round (a little further back in the cave): only things that you can observe, but not necessarily here and now (e.g. ‘everyone who has a sister at home should change places’). Here it is important that everyone is honest.

Third round (at the back of the cave): only invisible things, opinions (e.g. ‘anyone who thinks that God exists must change’).

In the third round, there is the variation ‘argument butterfly’: here, someone goes out of the circle and once he taps on the shoulder of a participant, he has to give a single argument to justify why he stayed or didn’t stay. If he taps twice, he has to give two arguments, and so on.

There is also the variation ‘question butterfly’: here, a second person leaves the circle. When this butterfly taps someone’s shoulder (after the arguing butterfly has tapped), this person may ask up to three questions with the aim of making the arguer think about his/her arguments.