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Agora : Journal for metafysisk spekulasjon. Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift. New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy. The Philosophical Significance of the Figure of Diotima. Kunst og historie hos Gadamer. Kunstjournalen B-post. I grenseland - mellom innenfor og utenfor. A World of Sexual Difference. Reports and theses. Book sections. Chapter 3 , pages Lexington Books. In: Pettersen, Helge.
Essays on the Confrontation of Philosophy and Sophistry
Deleuze i vest. Visible and Audible Movement in the Protagoras. Essays on the Confrontation of Philosophy and Sophistry. A third possibility: mixture and musicality. In: Hopkins, Burt; Drummond, John. Identity and Gender in Plato. In: Heyes, Cressida. Philosophy and Gender. Correct belief can direct our behavior well, too, though not nearly as reliably as knowledge. As Socrates says to Anytus:. For some time we have been examining And what about Socrates: does he teach virtue in the Meno? But what about his practice? And Socrates finishes by emphasizing that real knowledge of the answer requires working out the explanation for oneself.
The understanding requires active inquiry and discovery for oneself, based on innate mental resources and a genuine desire to learn. Whatever else might prove true or false about the notion that learning is a kind of recollection, these practical implications are what Socrates insists upon.
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Active Socratic inquiry requires humble hard work on the part of all learners: practice in the sense of the personal effort and training that properly develops natural ability. Or is it not taught, but trained? Or is it neither trained nor learned, but people get it by nature, or in some other way? Some have argued that Plato mentions training in the opening lines only because it was one of the traditional options debated in his day.
It seems to be tacitly dropped from the rest of the dialogue, and when Meno later revisits his opening challenge, he omits the option about training 86c-d. But if Meno forgets or deliberately avoids it, Socrates does not. When Meno starts to recognize his difficulties, Socrates encourages him to practice with definitions about shape 75a and gives him a series of paradigms or examples to practice with 73ea ; later, he criticizes Meno for refusing to do so 79a.
At a number of points, Socrates draws attention to the kind of training and habits Meno has already received 70b, 76d, 82a. While the theory that learning is recollection suggests that an essential basis for wisdom and virtue is innate, Socrates also reminds Meno that any such basis in nature would still require development through experience 89b.
And the combination of quotations from Theognis near the end of the dialogue suggest that virtue is learned not through verbal teaching alone, but through some kind of character-apprenticeship under the guidance of others who are already accomplished in virtue 95d ff. And it would not be a theoretical understanding divorced from the practice of virtue.
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In fact, our dialogue as a whole shows that Meno will not acquire the wisdom that is virtue until after he already practices some measure of virtue: at least the kind of humility, courage, and industriousness that are necessary for genuine learning. The Meno seems to be philosophically transitional between rough groupings of dialogues that are often associated in allegedly chronological terms, though these groupings have been qualified and questioned in various ways.
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All of that resembles what we see in early dialogues like the Euthyphro , Laches , Charmides , and Lysis. This cluster of Platonic concerns is variously developed in the Phaedo , Symposium , Republic , and Phaedrus , but in those dialogues, these concerns are combined with arguments concerning imperceptible, immaterial Forms, which are never mentioned in the Meno. Accordingly, many scholars believe that the Meno was written between those groups of dialogues, and probably about B.
That would be about seventeen years after the dramatic date of the dialogue, about fourteen years after the trial and execution of Socrates, and about the time that Plato founded his own school at the gymnasium called the Academy. More specifically, significant relations of the Meno to other Platonic dialogues include the following. The Meno is related by its dramatic setting to the famous series of dialogues that center on the historical indictment, trial, imprisonment, and death of Socrates Euthyphro , Apology , Crito , and Phaedo.
Anytus in the Meno will be one of the three men who prosecute Socrates, which is specifically foreshadowed in the Meno at 94e. The failed attempt to define virtue as a whole in the Meno is much like the failed attempts in other dialogues to define particular virtues: piety in the Euthyphro , courage in the Laches , moderation in the Charmides , and justice in the first book of the Republic. Those dialogues emphasize some of the same criteria for successful definitions as the Meno , including that it must apply to all and only relevant cases, and that it must identify the nature or essence of what is being defined.
The Meno adds another criterion: that something may not be defined in terms of itself, or in related terms that are still subject to dispute. But there it is countered by a long explanation from the sophist Protagoras of how virtue is in fact taught to everyone by everyone, not with definitions or by mere verbal instruction, but in a life-long training of human nature through imitation, storytelling, and rewards and punishments of many kinds.
Book VII of the Republic describes a system of higher education designed for ideal rulers, which uses a graduated series of mathematical studies to prepare such rulers for philosophical dialectic and for eventually understanding the Form of Goodness itself. The passage about recollection in the Phaedo even begins by alluding to the one in the Meno , but then it discusses recollection not of specific beliefs or propositions like the theorem about doubling the square in the Meno , but of basic general concepts like Equality and Beauty, which Socrates argues cannot be learned from our experiences in this life.
Plato also explores other models of innate knowledge elsewhere, such as an innate mental pregnancy in the Symposium cb; compare Phaedrus a ff. Glenn Rawson Email: grawson ric. Overview of the Dialogue a. Dramatic Setting The Meno is a philosophical fiction, based on real people who took part in important historical events.
Characters i. Socrates About the historical Socrates, much of what we think we know is drawn from what Plato wrote about him.
Meno Meno is apparently visiting the newly restored Athenian government to request aid for his family, one of the ruling aristocracies in Thessaly, in northern Greece, that was currently facing new power struggles there. Summary of Arguments, in Three Main Stages There are three main parts to this dialogue, which are three main stages in the argumentation that leads to the tentative conclusion about how virtue is acquired. Major Themes of the Dialogue a. Recollection and Innate Ideas A surprising interpretation of knowledge occurs in the middle third of the Meno , when Socrates suggests that real learning is a special kind of remembering.
Teaching and Learning According to Socrates, the practical purpose of the theory of recollection is to make Meno eager to learn without a teacher 81ea, 86b-c. As Socrates says to Anytus: For some time we have been examining Theory and Practice And what about Socrates: does he teach virtue in the Meno? References and Further Reading a. Platonis Opera, vol. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Some English Translations Plato: Meno.
Translated by G. Second Edition.
Hackett Publishing, Plato: Meno and Phaedo. Translated by Alex Long and David Sedley. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, Plato: Protagoras and Meno. Translated by Adam Beresford and introduced by Lesley Brown. Penguin Classics, Klein, Jacob. University of North Carolina Press, Scott, Dominic.