PHILOS 2P03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Christian Mortalism, Anytus, Sophist

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Notes on Meno
Brief Intro:
-three dialogues (Meno, Phaedo, Symposium) linked by Plato’s theory of forms
-Meno begins with question of whether virtue can be taught
what is common form shared by all virtues that makes each of them a virtue (72c-d)?
-Meno then introduces problem for inquiry: if neither of them knows what it is, how will they recognize
it if they find it?
Socrates answers they will know based on recollection (ex. slave boy [82a-86c])
-dialogue ends with return to if original topic of virtue can be taught
-theory of recollection presupposes that the soul is immortal
>Meno’s first definition of virtue (for a man) = to take part in city’s affairs capably, benefit his friends,
harm his enemies, while making sure he does not suffer
virtue is in relation to a particular function one must perform and a stage of one’s life (virtue different
for man, woman, child)
>Meno’s second def’n = ability to rule people
Socrates —> “justly or unjustly” should be added to one’s ability to rule, which Meno agrees
>Meno then concludes that justice is virtue
Socrates inquires into justice being a virtue or is justice is virtue
>Meno says justice is a virtue (there are other virtues) and includes temperance, wisdom, etc.
Socrates objects as they are only inquiring about what virtue is, not different types; they are in search
of the one that extends through all of them
>Meno’s 3rd def’n of virtue = “enjoying beautiful things and having power (to get them)” (p.96)
Socrates: arrives at new def’n = the power to get good things is virtue
>to get ‘good things’ one needs justice and temperance and consequentially, Meno is found to have
broken down virtue into smaller parts instead of stating what exactly virtue is
>Meno comments that Socrates is like a stingray that affects people in such a way they become puzzled
and numb
>Socrates claims he will join into inquiring about what virtue is
>Meno is confused as to how they will figure out what virtue is since they do not know, so how will they
even know what it is when they bump into it
Socrates brings up argument of recollection and an immortal soul — since soul is immortal, there is
nothing it has not learned (learning is just recalling something one already knew)
uses Meno’s slave as an example that one recalls information and that is what learning is
>the slave would have not been taught the knowledge of geometry and math so he must have
recovered the knowledge from inside himself; “there are true beliefs in him, which result in
knowledge when awakened by questioning […] his soul be for all time in a state of
learnedness” (p.102)
>they return to investigate whether virtue something acquired by teaching or nature
>Socrates suggests they investigate from a hypothesis, meaning they will adopt a hypothesis wether virtue
is something acquired by teaching
if virtue is some sort of knowledge, would be acquired through teaching
is virtue something good? Yes. Good is beneficial so virtue is beneficial. They benefit when there is
correct use. Soul’s undertakings end in happiness when guided by wisdom.
since virtue is beneficial it must be some sort of wisdom
>Socrates def’n: virtue is wisdom; and if so, good men would not be good by nature
contradiction — teaching implies teachers and learners
(Anytus comes in)
>if Meno wants to acquire virtue, he should be sent to people who know virtue best and are teachers of
virtue
Socrates suggests that these people are Sophists
Anytus disagrees, says that Sophists corrupt
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Document Summary

Three dialogues (meno, phaedo, symposium) linked by plato"s theory of forms. Meno then introduces problem for inquiry: if neither of them knows what it is, how will they recognize it if they find it: socrates answers they will know based on recollection (ex. slave boy [82a-86c]) Dialogue ends with return to if original topic of virtue can be taught. Theory of recollection presupposes that the soul is immortal. >meno"s second def"n = ability to rule people: socrates > justly or unjustly should be added to one"s ability to rule, which meno agrees. >meno then concludes that justice is virtue: socrates inquires into justice being a virtue or is justice is virtue. >meno"s 3rd def"n of virtue = enjoying beautiful things and having power (to get them) (p. 96: socrates: arrives at new def"n = the power to get good things is virtue.

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