In Plato’s Meno, Socrates and Meno attempt to answer the question, ‘What is virtue?’ Through this discussion, Meno is lead to question whether they are even able to arrive at an answer, presenting us with the paradox of inquiry, ‘And how will you enquire, Socrates, into that which you do not know? What will you put forth as a subject of enquiry? And if you find what you want, how will you ever know that this is the thing which you did not know?’ (Meno 80d). Meno’s paradox states that one cannot gain knowledge through enquiry.
Before addressing the fundamental issues of the Theory of Recollection, it is worth noting that Socrates never addresses the second half of Meno’s Paradox- assuming one has found what it is they are looking for, how is one to know they have found it if they do not know what they are looking for? There seems to lack a method for verifying one’s answer and if you cannot confirm that what you have found is in fact what you were looking for then inquiry seems to be never-ending. Although this is a discussion for another time, it does highlight an issue, which Socrates faces in the first part of the paradox, the part he addresses, which is the problem of circularity. Ironically, Socrates’ Theory of Recollection, which is used to overcome
If we apply this to the question of virtue, which is being considered in the Meno, neither Socrates nor Meno can define virtue, and so they do not know what virtue is, therefore they can not inquire about virtue.
The dialogue opens up with Meno asking what virtue is and whether it could be taught. Socrates asks Meno for a general definition of virtue, since as Socrates points out, we cannot figure out if virtue can be taught if we do not have a clear idea what it is. Socrates is looking for a general, or formal definition of virtue, not just examples or instances of it. Socrates wants to know what all the examples of virtue have in common. He wants to know the essence of virtue. Meno initially offers a list of virtues, but Socrates rejects this as a sufficient account. Meno also states that there are different virtues for everyone. The virtue of a man is to order a state and the virtue of a woman is to order a household. I believe that virtue can
Socrates does well in applying his Socratic method to his conversation with Meno as well. It seems evident from the text that Meno is rather ignorant. For, a great sum of his responses to Socrates consisted mostly of impertinent questioning and meek agreements. However, Socrates did not seem to mind, as he continued to fathom the nature virtue. He explores the relationship between virtue and knowledge, more specifically whether virtue is a kind of knowledge and may therefore be taught (though he concluded to be uncertain of this case). Socrates also goes on to invalidate Meno’s paradoxical question, “... how will you enquire, Socrates, into that which you do not know?” Socrates concludes with the argument that “...there is no teaching, but only recollection.” He goes on to prove his argument to Meno by questioning one of his slaves. This supports Socrates’ claim
The Paradox of Inquiry is also known as Meno’s Paradox, there are a few interpretations to this dialogue which can appear to be quite challenging to understand. In the Paradox, Socrates and Meno are inquiring into the term “virtue” and what the definition of “virtue” might be. Socrates postulates three possible options of acquiring knowledge in the Meno; finding out for yourself, learning from someone else or by a divine inspiration. My thesis is that …….
In this essay I will show that Socrates answer to Meno 's paradox was unsuccessful. First, I will explain what Meno 's paradox is and how the question of what virtue is was raised. Second, I will explain Socrates attempt to answer the paradox with his theory of recollection and how he believes the soul is immortal. Third, I will provide an argument for why his response was unsuccessful. This will involve looking at empirical questions, rather than non-empirical questions and how Socrates theory of recollection fails in this case. Next, I will provide an argument for why his response was successful. This will involve his interview with the slave boy and how the slave boy is able to provide the correct answers to Socrates questions. Lastly, I will explain why Socrates ' interview with the slave boy does not actually successfully prove his theory of recollection by examining how Socrates phrases his questions.
In the dialogue of Meno, Socrates explains the idea of recollection with the question and answer period between himself and the boy. Meno asks Socrates, “What do you mean by saying that we do not learn, and
Plato states that "all inquiry and all learning is but recollection" (81). Socrates uses Meno's slave to show that knowledge comes from recollection. This is Plato's way of stating that recognition of truth depends on the use of one's intellect. Truth may be understood as the conformity of intellect with reality. By using his intellect, Meno's slave recognizes the truth of the measurement of squares drawn by Socrates. Socrates calls this action "recollection." The act of recollecting, or using the intellect, is defined by Socrates as one
"Socrates, can virtue be taught?"1 The dialogue begins with Meno asking Socrates whether virtue can be taught. At the end of the Meno (86d-100b), Socrates attempts to answer the question. This question is prior to the division between opinion and knowledge and provides to unsettle both. Anytus participated in Socrates and Meno conversation about virtue. Socrates claims that if virtue is a kind of knowledge, then it can be learned. If it is something besides a kind of knowledge, it perceptibly cannot be taught.
Socrates had a unique way of teaching and expressing his thoughts and ideas. He taught by constantly posing questions with the assumption that any person could approach the truth through logic if he set aside ingrained prejudice and received knowledge (Hattersley 17,18). His dialectic method of questioning consisted of a subject being broken down by one or more people, in search of the same truth but with differing views. Instead of merely trying to convince listeners, Socrates would approach others by questioning what they felt to be true and therefore would be able to determine that person’s true feelings and the basis for those feelings. Socrates was open to receive knowledge wherever he could find it, yet when he approached people who claimed to be wise, he found they really knew nothing. He would challenge preconceived opinions, based on the words of others and fallacious logic. Many felt that he was attacking their identity and security causing them to resent Socrates when he pointed this out. Due to his search for truth, Socrates would, eventually, pay the ultimate price. Socrates teaches us to assume nothing and to question everything. In scientific study today, this is a fundamental element of scientific study, starting with a theory and afterward refining it to the point of when a decisive conclusion is made.
This is a clearer example of what Plato wrote about. Socrates said that virtue is knowledge which is to know what is right is to do what is right. All wrong doing is the result of ignorance, nobody chooses to do wrong purposely. Therefore, to be honest you must have true knowledge. Plato was trying to find a solution to the problem that although there is fundamental steadiness in the world (sun comes up every morning), it is constantly changing (you never step into the same river twice). An old theory about this problem is that we gain all knowledge from our senses. Plato disagreed with this. He said that because the world is constantly changing, our senses cannot be trusted. Socrates sets up a mathematical problem for a slave boy. The slave boy knows the answer, yet he has not been taught arithmetic. Plato suggests that the slave boy remembers the answer to the problem, which has been in
In The Phaedo, one of Socrates’ aims is to convince us that our souls existed prior to our birth. In making this argument, he claims that we had some knowledge of imperceptible things prior to our birth, and that through “recollection” of our pre-birth knowledge of imperceptible things, we are able to perceive certain qualities of things like equality beginning after our birth. Socrates’ argument begins by defining recollection as when someone ‘perceives one thing, knows that thing, and also thinks of another thing of which the knowledge is not the same but different’ (73c). Socrates asks that we consider our perception of equal things, such as sticks and sticks or stones and stones. He claims there is “Equal itself” or the Form of Equality, which is unmistakably equal at all times (74a). Once the Form of Equality, is agreed upon, Socrates claims that “as long as the sight of one thing makes you think of another, whether it be similar or dissimilar,” you are recollecting (74d). Socrates then concludes that because we are able to make judgments about equal things through perception, we must have knowledge of the Form of Equality prior to making these judgments about equal and unequal things, and we are able to recognize these things as equal or unequal by recalling the form of equality. Socrates’ argument begins with the idea that our souls were acquainted with all forms prior to our births, and he outlines an argument that illustrates his Theory of Recollection, concluding
Plato contended that all true knowledge is recollection. He stated that we all have innate knowledge that tells us about the things we experience in our world. This knowledge, Plato believed, was gained when the soul resided in the invisible realm, the realm of The Forms and The Good.
Plato 's dialogue Meno touches on many important questions of virtue and the ability to teach someone to be good. Arguably one of the most interesting of these questions concerns the nature of learning itself, as Socrates and Meno discuss the relationship between knowledge and true opinion. Socrates concludes by not only defining knowledge and true opinion as separate entities, but also by placing knowledge as the higher of the two in value. He makes this value judgment by pointing to knowledge 's status as opinion that is substantiated with reasoning and truths, arguing this makes knowledge concrete and unwavering. However, due to the notion of change as the central tenant in the search of scientific knowledge, I am inclined to disagree with this static description.