28 January 2014
MENO BY: PLATO
1. The anatomy of the meno
• Can virtue/excellence be taught or is it a natural gift or by practice? If it can be
taught, who are the teachers, and who are the learners?
Sophists are men paid to instruct. Ability to speak well and influence others. Notion of taking
the money sullies the art. Meno paid to learn.
“Aporia” ends in a sort of stalemate. Not a true stalemate bc learn that it cant be taught and
doesn’t come by nature or practice. All we have for now is “right opinion” until we get someone
who can give a sufficient account of it. rejection of the premises
• leads to 2 ndquestion of dialogue: to offer judgment about an attribute (like teach
ability) must know what that thing is: must know the form. (classic Socratic move)
Can virtue be taught? virtue is teachable? (yes or no?)
• Leads to 3 question: can anything be taught?
How do we get from Q2 to Q3 and what does the interlude with the slaveboy do (learners
• Leads to 4 : how does discussion of virtue return in Socrtic distinction between “right
opinion” and “knowledge” and “statues of Daedalus” example
2. Platonic Doctrine of “forms/Ideas”
Socrates always searching for definitions (concepts/forms/essences) Forms comes from root
“idea” Patos philosophy is often called “idealism”
Plato often calls concepts forms when he means the principle of ineligibility by which we
know a thing as it is irrespective of that out of which it is made.
Debate if Plato understood forms existing in the mind. Aristotle corrects by taking out of
heaven into mind. Believed there is one perfect thing for which all else is derived. Ability to
make distinctions. Animal analogy: there is no animal there are m