Summary of Plato's Meno

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Summery of Plato’s Meno

Characters: Socrates, Meno (Menon,) Anytus (Anytos,) The slave Boy.

The discussion begins with a wealthy young Thessalian nobleman named Meno asking Socrates if virtue can be taught or does it come by practice. Is it acquired through either means or is it endowed by nature or some other means. Socrates gives him and the place from where he hails a complement yet ridicules them. He, Socrates does this by saying Thessalians are ever so ready to give or receive the answer to a question with finding out the deeper understanding. Socrates states that he can not give the answer readily due to his lack of knowledge of the nature of the subject. The fundamental question for Socrates is what is virtue before knowing whether it is even acquirable in the first place. This Socrates does brilliantly; foreshadowing the nature of the whole discourse. Menon’s response is the knows what virtue is, and says Socrates lack of knowledge of the nature of virtue could reach place far abroad and can be scandalous. Socrates see no problem in that and his reputation, then goes on to say he is yet to meet anyone who knows what virtue is. Menon reminds Socrates of Gorgias whom he had met. Socrates says he can not recall whether he, Gorgias, knew or knew not what virtue is. This is a further play by Plato on the idea of recollection. He did ask if Menon thought as Gorgias. Menon agreed. He then asks Menon what is virtue. Menon says virtue is like a man’s virtue, a woman’s virtue, a child’s virtue which is different for boys and girls et al. And all these virtues have responsibilities tied to them. Socrates states that these a examples of virtues and tacitly rejects the notion of virtue being dependent on gender or age. Socrates then asks Menon if he agrees that all the virtues he mention have a quality that makes them a the same. Menon agrees. Socrates Further gives examples of how virtues can be like likened to shapes and...
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