A Review of Plato's Meno

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A Review of Plato’s Meno
Plato presents in his dialogue, titled Meno, the distinction between genuine knowledge and true opinion. In the text, he refers to knowledge as the form and definition of something that is changeless, where as true opinion can be altered and is not restricted in the way knowledge is by having standards of a form. Plato includes the characters of Socrates and Meno, a pupil of Gorgias, to discuss the nature of virtue and knowledge. The dialogue is provoked by Meno posing the question: “How will you look for [virtue], Socrates, when you do not know at all what it is? How will you aim to search for something you do not know at all? If you should meet with it, how ill you know that this is the thing that you did not know?” (Meno 80d). Socrates begins his discussion with Meno by comparing himself to a torpedo fish, which has the ability to ‘numb’ other creatures. By using the method of elenchus, in which Socrates uses an opponents claim to contradict and confuse them. In this comparison, Socrates uses ‘to numb’ in terms of ‘to perplex’, and admits that just as the torpedo fish numbs itself upon impact, Socrates is also left perplexed thereafter. Socrates applies to the concept of knowledge, to the concept of what one knows and does not know, yet according to him there is no unknown knowledge. Meno asks Socrates how is it possible to search for what is unknown if one does not know the unknown, and thus does not know what one is searching for, which Socrates declares as an unsound argument. Socrates then presents each premise of his deductive argument, in order to provide grounds for his conclusion. Notably, Socrates carefully avoids explaining what is unknown to Meno with other unknowns. His definitions are lexical, in that Socrates presents the definitions to eliminate what is ambiguous to Meno.

To begin, Socrates gives the premise that the soul is immortal. Much like the Pythagorean idea of metempsychosis, Socrates suggests that the soul...
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