Theory of Knowledge

Topics: Plato, Virtue, Truth Pages: 4 (1362 words) Published: January 27, 2014

PHIL 290
December 5, 2013

1. What are the similarities and differences between Meno and Socrates’ approach to virtue and how does virtue as a topic figure into the issues assigned part of the dialogue raises?

The Meno consists of a conversation between Meno and Socrates about the definition of virtue. Both Meno and Socrates have a different approach to virtue. Meno asks Socrates what the definition of virtue is. Socrates is questioning Meno about what he thinks it means because Gorgias had taught Meno when he was in Thessaly. Meno’s first attempt at trying to define virtue is that Meno states that virtue is different for man, woman, young and old, and free and slave. Virtue for a man is to “manage the city’s affairs capably and so that he will help his friends and injures his foes while taking care to come to no harm himself.” (Meno 71e) Meno states that a woman has a responsibility to be careful with her stores and be obedient to her husband. Meno chooses a piecemeal model of virtue, which relies on a relativistic assumption about virtue relative to particular circumstances like gender, age, etc. Socrates disagrees with Meno and chooses an organic model of virtue, which relies on the assumption that a universal account of virtue is both desirable and possible. Since Socrates disagrees with Meno, he uses an example with bees to illustrate his model. Socrates says that even though there are many types of bees, they all share the same nature. “The same is true in the case of virtues. Even if there are many and they are of various kinds, all have the same form which makes them virtues, and it is right to look to this when one is asked to make clear what virtue is.” (72c) Meno’s second attempt at defining virtue states that virtue is the capacity to govern men. However, Socrates struggles with Meno’s definition and asks for a clarification of whether or not Meno should add “justly but not otherwise.” His argument was that a man might seem to have the...
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