Plato: Meno (Classical Texts) (Ancient Greek) Paperback – 1 Jan 1985
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Fine translation, good notes--inexpensive, too!--D.A. Rohatyn, University of San Diego Unmistakably superior: more lucid, more accurate, more readable. Above all, they're lucidly adorned, unpretentious, and in translating Plato that counts a good deal. The prose is, as English prose, persuasive, cogent, and as eloquent as it can be without departing from the text.--William Arrowsmith --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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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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Socrates claims that to answer such a question, a person would have to know what virtue is. An incredulous Meno asks, "Socrates, do you really not know what virtue is?"
Socrates responds, "Not only that, my friend, but as I believe, I have never yet met anyone else who did know."
And so Socrates and Meno engage in a question-and-answer investigation of what virtue is and if it can be taught. They explore how to define words, how people learn, whether virtue is knowledge, and the difference between true opinion and knowledge. The process at one point leads Meno to call Socrates a "broad torpedo fish," capable of numbing the mind with his probing questions.
G.M.A. Grube does a great job translating, and his footnotes aren't intrusive. If you're wondering what the Socratic Method entails, Meno is a good introduction that satisfies that curiosity without being too dense. But if you want to fully learn Plato's opinion of virtue and its properties (and the immortality of the soul), you might want to check out Protagoras (where Plato reaches the opposite conclusion than in this dialogue) and, of course, The Republic.
This was somewhat interesting, Socrates meets with Meno to discuss what virtue is and how can it be acquired. Meno seems to have some ideas but he comes in contact with a broad torpedo fish (Socrates) and this leaves him numb and in a state of perplexity, in the end we're not really sure what virtue is but we know a few things its not.
The thing this seems to be best remembered for a part where Socrates questions a slave to prove that souls already learned everything before inhabiting a human. To prove this Socrates asks a series of leading questions which the slave gets wrong but then upon further leading questions he figures out the answer. This seems to prove the preknowledge to everyone, although I don't see how anyone getting some questions right when they're lead to the conclusion to prove anything of the sort, all it proves is that humans have the ability to think and learn.
Overall this dialogue was one of the first Socrates ones I've read and it was a good introduction to Plato, but with that being said, I think some of his other ones are far better. Its worth reading in any case and this same inborn knowledge will be brought up again (for example in Phaedo).
For such a short story, so much is said. Reading Plato answers many questions and exposes the framework of so many later writers of history, a classic that should be read and contemplated. Spending the time reading on Plato's Meno reaps much, far more valuable than vast amounts of mediocre writers. Can you imagine if the masses spent as much time reading Plato as they do their shod journalism!
Actually this idea of virtue has the basics of all philosophical thought, the direction of the whole or the overall purpose always direct the thoughts. Virtue acts as the driving force of the empirical observation and technical craft. Virtue is the purpose, the why, as opposed to the what. And so, it has been determined from the conversation of Socrates and Meno, that virtue is not knowledge, it is not the "what" but rather it is that which moves the direction behind knowledge and therefore cannot be taught. And if it is not knowledge then it can be observed by example, yet Socrates determined that virtue is from a divine source, the inspiration that is behind all knowledge.
This particular edition has a lot of room on each side to enter notes and is a very readable and understandable translation of the original.
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