Meno's Paradox of Knowledge
An analysis of Meno's challenge of Socrates in Plato's "Meno" as to whether virtue can be taught.
# 154162 | 940 words | 1 source | 2015 |
Published on Apr 14, 2015
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From the Paper:"In Plato's Meno, Meno approaches Socrates with the challenge of whether or not virtue can be taught. In order to answer Meno's question, Socrates believes they must define virtue first before they decide whether or not it can be taught. After being asked to define virtue, Meno suggests, "First, if you want the virtue of a man, it is easy to say that a man's virtue consists of being able to manage public affairs and in so doing to benefit his friends and harm his enemies and to be careful that no harm comes to himself" (Meno 60). Meno's attempt at defining virtue is shot down when Socrates states that simply defining different ways for beings to be virtuous is not sufficient in defining virtue itself. Meno then attempts to define virtue again and fails according to Socrates, "We are having the same trouble again, Meno, though in another way; we have found many virtues while looking for one, but we cannot find the one which covers all the others" (Meno 63). Here, Meno and Socrates are both frustrated with their unsuccessful attempts to define something they are not familiar with. Because they do not know what it is they are looking for, they are having trouble finding it, thus the paradox of knowledge. The paradox of knowledge questions the human ability to gain information, suggesting that it is seemingly impossible to learn something without already knowing it. Meno's paradox questions, "How will you look for it, Socrates, when you do not know at all what it is? How will you aim to search for something you do not know at all? If you should meet with it, how will you know that this is the thing that you did not know?" (Meno 70). Meno's statement implies that Socrates' hunt for the meaning of virtue is impossible to fulfill because he does not know what virtue is and he will not be able to recognize what he has found."
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