Socratic Method: a Superior Approach

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In The Meno, Plato presents a dialogue that aims to figure out what virtue is. Each character contributes to the conversation by presenting their different theories on dealing with ideas like virtue. Even though Socrates and his interlocutors fail to come up with an exact definition concerning virtue, they successfully portray three different points of view on the subject. This enables the reader to become the philosopher and ponder which theory is more effective. After analyzing Meno’s theory of examining virtue by discussing its qualities and Anytus’ refusal to discuss ideas like virtue, it is clear that the most efficient method is Socrates’ theory of recollection.

Socrates’ theory of recollection, also known as the Socratic Method, is based on the idea that our soul is immortal and has already experienced everything. Because of this we already know everything and the only thing left is to find a way to recollect the information. Since our souls have all the knowledge we need “there is no teaching, but only recollection” (Plato 41) and the only way Socrates can help someone learn anything is by making them go through this process of recollection. He does this by asking questions, providing comparisons or analogies, and by using examples. All of the above can be seen in Socrates’ conversation with Meno’s attendant. Socrates asks the attendant several questions about geometry and the servant answers them with confidence. He got some of them wrong so Socrates proceeds to ask him some more questions on the subject and the second time around he got them right. Proving that “by putting questions to him, his soul must have always possessed this knowledge…” (Plato 47) seeing as he got the questions right. This conversation between Socrates and Meno’s attendant is a clear example of the efficiency of the Socratic Method.

The other two people conversing with Socrates, Meno and Anytus, present their own methods for examining virtue, both of which lack the...
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