MENO NOTES

Topics: Plato, Virtue, Meno Pages: 4 (1756 words) Published: September 22, 2014
In Plato's Meno, Socrates and Meno do not obtain a definition of virtue, while Socrates thinks that virtue is a kind of knowledge, and if virtue is knowledge, then it should be able to be both defined and taught. But most virtuous persons (virtue being some sort of excellence or another) don't seem to be able to teach "virtue" to their own children (as told to Meno by Socrates). As a consequence of this, it is problematic for both Plato and Socrates to suppose that virtue is a sort of knowledge. What can be inferred from Plato’s Meno is that one must reach the state of aporia or the state of puzzlement to embark on a virtuous life.

Protogoras' arguments evidently did not convince Socrates; virtue and whether or not it could be taught is the central subject of a later dialogue, the Meno. The dialogue opens with Meno's question: "Can you tell me Socrates, can virtue be taught? Or is it not teachable but the result of practice, or is it neither of these, but men possess it by nature or in some other way?" (Meno70a). Socrates replies that he must first know what virtue is before he can answer Meno's question. Socrates claims complete ignorance of virtue; furthermore, Socrates has never met anyone who could give an adequate definition of virtue.

The discussion of virtue in the Meno illustrates some of Socrates' argumentative methods. First, Socrates emphasizes the necessity of adequate definitions. Socrates says he cannot determine if virtue can be taught since hedoes not know what virtue is, and he asks Meno to give a definition. Meno begins by describing the virtue applicable to a man, a woman, a slave, and so forth. Socrates rejects the particularized definitions and presses Meno for a characteristic common to the particular manifestations. Socrates also exposes Meno's attempts to use the term to be defined with the definition.

The Theory of Recollection in a sense says the inquiry is impossible. It states that what appears to be learning something new...
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