Socrates 's Theory Of Recollection Essay

Socrates 's Theory Of Recollection Essay

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In the Meno, Plato addresses the question of virtue, what it is, how to obtain and if virtue can be taught. Meno came to conclusion after a long discussion with Socrates that it is impossible to know what virtue is. The Meno’x paradox states, “if one knows what virtue is, he does not need to search for it. However, if one does not know what virtue is, how can he search for it? He may not know he has it even when he gets it.” Seeing how hopeless Meno is, Socrates propose the theory of recollection as a way to obtain virtue. This paper will argue against this theory.
Meno is the first dialogue that does not specify the setting where it takes place. It starts out with Meno’s question, “is virtue something acquired by teaching?” After a few discussions, Meno asked a couple more questions if virtue can be practice or virtue is in nature. Socrates says that he cannot answer those questions because he does not even know what virtue is. Meno is very surprised at Socrates’s answer, therefore he decides to explain the definition to Socrates. On his first attempt, Meno gives a list of all the virtues that men and women have. Socrates points out that it is just a list of various virtue but it does not define what virtue is. He makes reference of Meno’s information is like a swarm of bees. There may be different types of bee but we do not know the essence that makes them a bee. On Meno’s second attempt, he defines virtue as the power to rule over people. Socrates asks Meno to add “justly” in the phrase “to rule over people.” He then asks Meno if justice is virtue or a virtue. The example here is that roundness is a shape but not shape itself. There are many other shapes. Same concept applies to virtue. Justice is a virtue but there are many ot...


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...knowledge of virtue. The second problem is Socrates’ answer does not give the definition of virtue nor does it answer Meno’s paradox. All Socrates is saying is that we may be able to recollect the lost knowledge. He does not mention how we can do it.
Meno’s paradox is one of the famous topic in Plato’s work. It has puzzled many philosophers throughout the ages. Socrates’s theory of recollection attempts to solve the paradox. The theory does answer the paradox in a way. However, theory itself has many problems including its circular nature and its purpose. The goal is to give Meno the instruction of how to enquire virtue when nobody knows what virtue is. The theory only says that Meno may be able to learn about virtue because his soul is immortal. He will be fine as long as he is engaging in the process of recollection. The paradox’s problem still remains unanswered.

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