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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Plato's most frustrating early dialogues, 19 July 2004
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Meno (Paperback)
Meno is one of Plato's early and, to my mind, least successful, Socratic dialogues. The conversation centers, naturally enough, on virtue and whether or not it is teachable. Meno's definitions of virtue are woefully inadequate, by and large, and deserving of Socrates' typical arrogance. At one point, Meno says that one cannot learn about what one does not know. To counter this argument, Socrates, arguing that the soul is eternal and that learning is in fact recollection, sets about showing him how an ignorant slave "remembers" the answers to geometrical questions Socrates puts to him. Later, when Meno agrees with the notion that virtue is knowledge and can be taught, Socrates counters the point by saying he has yet to find anyone who truly practices virtue and is thus qualified to teach it. In the end, Socrates concludes that virtue cannot be taught and is in fact a gift of the gods. Only the gods have true knowledge and can thus do nothing wrong, in Socrates' opinion.
The whole "knowledge is recollection" argument dominates my reaction to this dialogue, as the demonstration of geometrical knowledge involving a slave never sits well with me. One should not really look for answers in Meno, as the whole dialogue ends with little more than open questions. Many of the same ideas were developed much more completely in The Republic.
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Meno by Plato (Paperback - 1 Jan 1980)
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