Meno: Epistemology and Socrates

Topics: Epistemology, Plato, Truth Pages: 3 (882 words) Published: December 5, 2010
Meno’s Paradox
A paradox is a true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or situation, which defies intuition (Wikipedia). In Plato’s Meno, Meno and Socrates engage in the typical Socratic elenctic method of examination pertaining to the topic of virtue. Socrates helps Meno reach a state of learned ignorance. After reaching this state, Meno presents his paradox to Socrates. Socrates, in philosophical fashion, examines the statement using epistemological evidence to understand how the soul and mind acquire knowledge. Through this examination, Socrates produces the recollection theory to explain the acquisition of knowledge and refute Meno’s paradox.

Socrates does not solve Meno’s paradox by presenting the recollection theory fully. This paper will explore Plato’s Meno through Meno’s paradox, Socrates’ refutation of the paradox, the recollection theory, and the evidence Socrates uses to present his theory. Socrates never explores how one can learn something that is not previously known.

Meno’s paradox states that knowledge is either present or not present. Meno believes that there is no gray area in the black and white realm of knowledge. If the answer is known, it can not be sought because it is already known and therefore futile to search for it. If the answer is not known, it can not be sought because it is unclear what the search is for due to the lack of knowledge in question. Meno claims a person can not transition from a state of not knowing to a state of knowing. Therefore, it can be derived from Meno’s paradox that the acquisition of knowledge is impossible. This paradox is false because it is based on the false premise that learning never takes place.

The false premise is present because Meno argues that a person either knows something or does not. Contrary to that belief, Socrates reveals something may not be known in full capacity but can be known in some capacity. With the false statement, Meno’s paradox is void....
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