Recollection in Plato's Phaedo and Meno Essay

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Recollection in Plato's Phaedo and Meno

As the earliest philosopher from whom we have written texts, Plato is often misrepresented as merely reproducing Socratic rhetoric. In Meno, one of the first Platonic dialogues, Plato offers his own unique philosophical theory, infused with his mentor's brilliant sophistry.

Amidst discussing whether or not virtue can be taught, Meno poses a difficult paradox: How can one be virtuous, or seek virtue, when one cannot know what it is? "How will you aim to search for something you do not know at all?" (Plato, Meno, 80d). From this question, Plato purposes a solution, that knowledge must be recollected from the soul. When the soul enters the world of space and time, Plato suggests, it carries some
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Near the end of Meno, Socrates observes:

For true opinions, so long as they stick around, are a fine thing and do all sorts of good. But they are not willing to stick around for long. Rather, they escape from one's mind, so that they are not worth much until one ties them down by figuring out the cause. (97e-98e)

Thus true opinion, on the other hand, is of things circumstantial and conditional, and remains only temporarily in the soul's memory. Plato also uses the example of a journey to Larissa to illustrate this difference; for even if one "knows" the route, in another lifetime the route may change, and thus is temporary. The route to Larissa, therefore, would be an object of true opinion but not of knowledge, and could not be recollected by another in future lifetimes.

Although these examples of differentiating knowledge and opinion strengthen Plato's theory of recollection, the theory itself is not substantiated enough to prove the soul's immortality. Other statements in both books prove to be hypocritical. If all humans possess innate knowledge through recollection, this would refute Socrates' frequent statement that he does not have any knowledge. Other explanations are also lacking: if we are to believe this theory of recollected knowledge, then how did the soul initially gain any knowledge? If opinion is
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