Thursday, November 8, 2007

Plato's Meno

Plato was born in the 5th century B.C. and was executed in 399 B.C. He was born in what is known as the golden age of Greece. "Socrates wrote nothing because he felt that knowledge was a living, interactive thing." The only writings about Socrates were written by the man that he mentored, Plato, and Xenophon. Socrates was the mentor of Plato and Plato was the mentor of Aristotle, it is kind of interesting how that all plays out. (Class Podcast)(Nardo, 55)

Socrates has many methods that he is known for. He is known for his method of Know Thyself. He also believes that a bad man could never really harm or hurt a good man. He also believes that if you remove ignorance you remove evil. According to Socrates the difference between man and animals is that we have a concious and animals do not. Socrates is always trying to find out more and question more things. He always asks why and this is known as the Socratic method. (Class Podcast)

One of Plato's works is called "Meno". Meno is a diolouge between Meno and Socrates and a few other characters including one of Meno's servants and Anytus. Plato used a diolouge between characters most frequently to format his writings. Meno is about defining virtue. In this diolouge virtue is a result of trial but these men are trying to define it. (Nardo 35) (Class Podcast)

Meno starts off with Meno asking if virtue can be taught and what virtue is. In the first phase of "Meno" Socrates keeps asking for a general definition of virtue. Socrates says that you can't find out if virtue can be taught unless you known the definition. Socrates wants to know the definition and not just examples of virtue.

The second phase of the dialogue starts with the challenge of Meno to Socrates saying that if you dont know what virtue is already then even if you were to look you would not know when you have found it. The second phase of this diologue is where Socrates says that knowing is a kind of remembering. During this phase of Meno we have"reached a new understanding of the nature of knowledge." (source)

The third phase of Meno starts when Socrates agrees to look further into whether virtue can be taught. Socrates explains the way he wants to examine the idea. First they are to determine if virtue is a kind of knowledge. If it is a kind of knowledge we can conclude to say that it can be taught. If it is not a type of knowledge than we can conclude that it can not be taught. (Source)

At the end of "Meno" we can see that none of the questions asked earlier were answered. We never get the answer to whether virtue is knowledge or what virtue is. We do reach the conclusion that knowledge is important. Also that knowledge is explained and supported by true belief. (source)

Nardo, Don. Lost Civilizations:The Ancient Greeks. San Diego Ca: Lucent Books, 2001.

Nardo, Don. Living in Ancient Greece. Farmington Hills MI: Green Haven Press, 2004

Kreeft, Peter. What Would Socrates Do?: The History of Moral Thought and Ethics (CD 2, Lecture 3-Being Good and Being Wise:Can Virtue Be Taught). New York, NY: Barnes and Noble, 2004.