Meno

Topics: Plato, Socrates, Virtue Pages: 3 (988 words) Published: December 5, 2013

Meno

“As to my being a torpedo, if the torpedo is torpid as well as the cause of torpidity in others, then indeed I am a torpedo, but not otherwise; for I perplex others, not because I am clear, but because I am utterly perplexed myself. And now I know not what virtue is, and you seem to be in the same case, although you did once perhaps know before you touched me. However, I have no objection to join with you in the enquiry” (Meno 80d). Plato, in his book Meno, defines whether or not virtue can be taught. He does so by presenting two different characters; Meno is just a mere prop that Plato utilizes so that he could convey his real messages through Socrates. The book is written in the dialectic style and begins with Meno’s question if virtue is teachable. Socrates responds to Meno’s question by saying that in order to answer that question, one must first know whether virtue can be defined or not. Meno attempts three times to define virtue however, each time Socrates refutes his definition with a counterargument. By the end of his third attempt, Meno calls Socrates a “torpedo fish” because he feels as if all the knowledge that he had acquired from Gorgias was replaced by questions and uncertainty. In the aforementioned passage, in the doxical context, Socrates admits he has this effect on others because he himself doesn’t know . On the other hand, in the ethological context, Socrates is mocking the teachings of Gorgias and the Sophists. Moreover, in a broader perspective, through Socrates, Plato criticizes all who pretend like they have acquired all the knowledge attainable in this world.

As Meno begins his questionnaire, Socrates asks Meno to reiterate Gorgias’ definition of virtue. He proudly defines virtue as the ability for a man and a women to complete their rightful duties and continues on my saying that virtues is different for all. Socrates immediately rejects this idea by explaining to Meno that he is describing the different kinds...
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