“Can virtue be taught?” This is question Plato is trying to answer in Meno. This problem is important and serious, because its answer directly concerns a question about how we understand and position education. The reason for Plato making this question is related to his opposition to the wise men. It is well known in the times of Socrates and Plato, some wise men advocate “virtue can be taught” to recruit a large number of young customers. They pull out money from pocket; hope the wise men can teach them virtue However, from Plato’s and Socrates’s viewpoint, this kind of behavior ruins people’s virtue. Therefore, to criticism theses wise men, they must refute “virtue can be taught”.
Before Meno, Plato reflects “can virtue be taught” in Protagoras. In this dialogue, Plato selects Protagoras as Socrates’s opponent, the intention is obvious, if the wise men like Protagoras cannot provide sufficient and strong argument for “virtue can be taught”, then it is doubtful for the wise men to advocate “virtue can be taught”. That is only for questioning “virtue can be taught”, Protagoras cannot be considered as fail. Because in this dialogue, except in one or two places the requirements Socrates proposes to Protagoras seem quite unreasonable, even a little inconsiderate (Plato, Protagoras, 2002, pp. 27-31, 334c-338e),most of the time, Protagoras does not succeed in persuading Socrates. But the problem is that, although the argument “virtue can be taught" seems doubtful, but in the dialogue Socrates was not able to pre...
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...f his way of thinking; almost all of Plato's dialogues are not transcend this limitation. Confined on the way of thinking, Plato always trying to find a common definition of the concept and according to the definition starts analyzing and discussing. Although he stressed the overall concept, also pay attention to the semantics of the language, but he did not realize that the language system itself is whole organic and inseparable from human practice, the concept of universal knowledge and understanding cannot be separated from holding a special section. So, in Meno, he rejects virtue of a special category from discussing the issue is inappropriate.
Plato. (2002). Meno. In G. Grube., Five Dialogues (pp. 58-92). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
Plato. (2002, November 3). Protagoras. (C.c.W.Taylor, Ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc.
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