Analyzing Meno 's Definitions Of Virtue And The Soundness Of Socrates Essay

Analyzing Meno 's Definitions Of Virtue And The Soundness Of Socrates Essay

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The theme of Meno is the argument on whether virtue can be taught, as discussed by Socrates and Meno. To reach a conclusion on whether or not virtue can be taught requires that the philosophers first define what exactly is being taught, or what is virtue. Socrates claims to know nothing about virtue, except that he is looking for it 's form. As a result, Meno provides many definitions for Socrates. This paper will analyze Meno 's definitions of virtue and the soundness of Socrates ' argument against them as he searches for the form.
The first definition offered by Meno is that virtue is the “power of governing mankind.” Socrates argues against this definition with the question of “Does this virtue include all virtue? Is virtue the same in a child and in a slave, Meno?” These question are directly followed by questions that tie to Meno 's earlier but fruitless attempt to define virtue as being specific to each age, gender, and personal situation. Using this premise, that there are multiple virtues for each stage/state of life, Socrates concludes that- if each age, gender, and personal situation had their own virtue, then it would be considered virtuous for a slave to govern over it 's master or a child over it 's father. Using this argument, Socrates proves Meno 's argument to be unsound since it is built off of an untrue premise that there are multiple virtues for each stage/state of life
Secondly, having his first definition found unsound, Meno agrees with Socrates that “The power of governing the state, justly and not unjustly” must the definition of virtue. In agreeing with Socrates, Meno states that this definition would be sound because justice is virtue, to which Socrates questions his use of the term “virtue” as opposed ...

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...eads to the definition of virtue being “The power of getting silver and gold.” Meno believes that acquiring these goods is thought to be virtuous when accompanied by an element of virtue, such as justice, temperance, or holiness. Socrates, after clarifying that he has understood correctly, become upset at Meno for his inability to deliver the form of virtue, but has instead returned to the concept of virtue being defined by it 's particulars.
Having come full circle in their defining reasoning, Socrates and Meno depart in a state of aporia. Assuming that the definition cannot be discovered, both men decide to continue the argument on whether virtue can be taught by settling on a general definition of virtue. My analysis of Meno 's definitions of virtue and Socrates ' response to argument against them to concludes that the form of virtue can not be captured.

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