Difference Between Socrates And Meno Paradox

Decent Essays
Salma Sameh
PHIL 2100
Dr. Robert McIntyre

Meno’s Paradox

Meno and Socrates, found themselves in a debate over virtue. The men were trying to uncover the truth about how one acquires virtue; is it taught? Is it practiced? Or is it inborn? When Socrates proposes that they try to define virtue itself, because they do not know what it is to begin with, the men reach a disagreement. Both Socrates and Meno had very different views about how one acquires knowledge about virtue and all other things as well. Meno proposes a view, or a paradox, in which people can not learn new things, while Socrates proposes a theory, the “theory of recollection”, in which people already know everything within their minds. Socrates’s theory of recollection
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The theory of recollection assumes that the soul already knows everything and one simply needs to “recollect” what they already know. Socrates assumes that the soul is immortal, that it knows everything, and that even though it dies, it is never destroyed, it is reincarnated and continues to live and learn, both in this life and in the underworld, and therefore, there is nothing that it does not know. Thus, because people already know everything within their soul, or minds, they do not need to “learn” new things, they just need to remember, or recollect these things from within. Socrates shows a practical example on Meno’s slave boy (82b-85b), in which he questions the boy, not teach him, about geometrical problems. The slave boy has never done geometrical problems before, yet when Socrates questioned him the boy was able to “recollect”, as Socrates teased the information out of him and brought out the knowledge the boy already knows from previous lives. The theory of recollection argues that one could seek inquiry by recollecting answers and knowledge, and that one does not need to “learn” or seek answers to know new things. Learning new things does not have to come from the outside world, it could come from within, and inquiry could take form of recollection. Hence, the philosopher’s theory successfully responds to the paradox in the sense that it proves that people could recognize new things, they…show more content…
The theory of recollection could be separated from the idea that one has innate knowledge, because the theory only provides information as to how this knowledge got there, not whether it is actually there or not. Socrates’s main point that he wants to get across to Meno is that people have innate knowledge; how it got there, however, is just a “theory” and could be proven true or false. In part 86-b of the dialogue with Meno, Socrates states “I do not insist my argument is correct in all other respects,” which gives space for one to argue against the validity of Socrates’s theory of how innate knowledge exists. In summation, one should not confuse Socrates’s main argument, which is the existence of innate knowledge, with the theory of how it got there, the theory or recollection. The invalidity of the theory of recollection does not mean that the knowledge is not there, it only means that how it got there is answered through the theory of recollection. Other explanations besides the theory or recollection could be used to explain how ne has inborn knowledge, maybe God put it there, maybe this is how the minds were created. Countless arguments could be made to support the idea of innate knowledge, and the theory of recollection is just one of
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