Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno and Phaedo

The Quest for Virtue in Plato's "Meno" College

A seemingly excited lad initiates Plato’s Meno. Meno appears to have learned what virtue is and is eager to share this knowledge with the renowned Socrates. Thus, Meno tactically lays out calculated questions to Socrates: “…is virtue something that can be taught? Or does it come by practice? Or is it neither teaching nor practice that gives it to a man but natural aptitude or something else?”[1] Meno’s enthusiasm to discuss virtue is immediately seen. Also, behind Meno’s sincere, keen interest lies a somewhat arrogant desire to prove his knowledge to Socrates. But does Meno actually know that which he thinks he knows?

On the other hand, we see a skeptical Socrates. He is very wary of agreeing to certain opinions, regardless of how sensible they might appear to be. Socrates blames Gorgias for acclimating Meno to the habit of answering questions confidently, as is appropriate to the ones who know: “ὥσπεr εἰκoV touV εἰδότας.”[2] Socrates frequently uses various forms of the verb “οἶδα” in this part of the dialogue while referring to the knowledge of what virtue is. According to the Middle Liddell Lexicon, “εἰδότaV” is the perfect participle of “οἶδα”—translated in the present tense—meaning “the ones who know.” Also, “oἶδα” is...

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