1. In Plato’s Meno, Socrates claims that all learning is actually recollection (80d – 86c). What prompts Socrates to make this claim, and what does he mean by it?
As Socrates and Meno were trying to find out the essence of virtues, Socrates said: “The soul, then, as being immortal, and having been born again many times, and having seen all things that exist, whether in this world or in the world below, has knowledge of them all; and it is no wonder that she should be able to call to remembrance all that she ever knew about virtue, and about everything; for as all nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things1.” As he suggested, the soul has already known everything, and thus the acquisition of all knowledge is the process of remembrance, the process of the recalling what we have already known with the help of some hints.
How does he demonstrate to Meno that learning is recollection?
Socrates then managed to verify his theory by demonstrating it on one of Meno’s slaves. He did not directly teach or instruct anything to that boy slave who originally did not know about geometry. Instead, Socrates provided that slave with hints and guided his thoughts step by step. As a result, the boy slave found out a simple geometrical theorem which apparently “emerged” from his mind.
Do you find his demonstration persuasive? Why or why not?
Of course no. His claim that “Learning is recollection” is not convincing either. Basically this claim is completely apriorism, an idealist theory in which I do not believe. When it comes to his demonstration of that theory, I think his demonstration might be persuasive at that time, but simply does not hold water at all when put into modern society. The complexity of modern science has g...
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...k, therefore I am, was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the sceptics capable of shaking it.” 4
Are you persuaded that the statement “I think therefore I am” is a certain truth? Why or why not?
I tried to change the “think” with other verbs and make the phrase look like “I eat, therefore I am” or “I walk, therefore I am”, but no word other than “think” really makes sense. Thinking is the only action that can pass the test of doubting because it is the basis of doubting. The action itself has confirmed the substantiality of thoughts, and thus confirms the existence of one’s self.
1. Meno. page 45
2. [V. I. Lenin，What Is To Be Done? (New York: International Publishers, 1961) p. 31.]
3. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito ergo_sum
4. Part IV Discours de la Méthode, René Descartes, 1637
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