Meno Essay

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Meno Paper Assignment
Can virtue be taught? Plato starts off the Meno with this simple question. Prior to answering this question, Socrates is adamant about first understanding what virtue is. Socrates and Meno go back and forth throughout the story attempting to figure out the definition of virtue. When they come to the conclusion that they do not know what virtue is, they attempt to prove whether virtue can be taught, is attainable by practice, or is simply possessed by nature.

As Meno asks Socrates whether virtue can be taught, Socrates explains to him that he does not know what virtue is. Meno defines virtue to Socrates in many forms. For a man virtue is managing public affairs and in turn benefiting his friends, and harming his enemies. For a woman she must manage the home well, preserve its possessions, and be submissive to her husband. He also explains that a child, a slave or an elderly man also have different virtues. Socrates refutes this definition of virtue. He has not been given a definition but yet a list of examples. He gets his point across to Meno by using bees as an example. There are many different types of bees, but one bee does not differ from another in the fact that they are both bees. This same concept has to be true with virtue, for there are many and various types but they all have the same form making them virtues. Here we are presented with the first rule of giving a definition, and that is simply to not give examples.

Meno attempts to give Socrates a second definition, stating that virtue is simply the ability to rule over people. Once again Socrates refutes this definition. In the case of a slave or a child this cannot be true; hence this is merely another example of a specific trait of someone who is virtuous. Socrates also adds that if this were true than it would have to be justly and not unjustly. Menos response to this is that justice is virtue. Is justice virtue or is it a type of virtue? This is the next issue Socrates...
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