Plato's Meno - Can Virtue Be Taught – Book Report/Review Example

The paper “Plato’s Meno - Can Virtue Be Taught" is an inspiring version of a book review on philosophy. One of the strategies that Socrates used to win an argument with Meno was questioning some of the assumptions that Meno had made. When asked to define Virtues, Socrates questioned most of the definitions Meno gave, leaving Meno to question if he too could define virtues appropriately. Socrates views virtues from a different perspective from Meno. Meno’s definition is too general and unsatisfactory. Some of the questions that Socrates raises are legitimate. In fact, all questions that Socrates asks Meno are legitimate when one views things from Socrates’ perspective. Some of the questions that Socrates asks make one question their own definition of terms.

Socrates first requests Meno to define what virtue means. Socrates first implies that he does not know how to define the term virtue. Meno’s definition is so broad and has a varied perspective. As such, he considers aspects such as management of public affairs and shows Meno that they would not be termed as a virtue. Socrates introduces the concept of the Greek who were once virtue-driven people but lack the remotest consciousness at the present. This shows that virtue is definable by analyzing what it is, and what it is not. This question helps in defining the term virtue better. For one to know what virtue is, he or she needs to know what virtue does not control.

Socrates also questions if there is a standard or a measure that can precisely assess what is a virtue and what is not. For instance, he argues that people have different levels of strength or different heights. He asks if one can possess stronger virtues than another person can. Socrates here appears to be caught up on specifics. For him, a general definition is not enough and as such, he demands a detailed definition. Using such questions, Socrates avoids answering the question raised by Meno, by trying to have Meno answer himself the same question that he had posed.

Meno’s definition of Virtue extends to both genders arguing that virtue is evident when a woman is able to manage her household, while for a man; it is the ability to manage the city well. Meno’s definition has many loopholes. Socrates first argues that virtues are of different natures and different intensities. For instance, he presents an example where he uses multiple shapes, sizes, and color, which define virtues. Socrates implies that being hardworking and being honest are two different behaviors but both are perceivably virtues. This question is very legitimate, and one that gets Meno thinking about his initial definition. 

Another legitimate question that Socrates poses is whether virtue is an adjective or a verb. Although the terms are not in the description, this question arises when Socrates asks Meno if an act is a virtue or a virtue. Socrates then diverges to the analysis of shape. Although some of the examples that Socrates uses throughout the dialogue digress from the question at hand extensively, such as the description of color and shape, but contribute to understanding Socrates questions with much ease. For instance, these conversations lead to the agreement that acts are virtues, and their outcomes are virtue-guided. As such, his definition of a virtuous act is an act that is in itself inclined to virtue.

Some of the questions and parts of the conversation that Socrates argues is irrelevant and easily distract both thinkers from one line of thought. For instance, Socrates constantly brings in the fact that Meno is handsome, despite the fact that it has little influence on the debate. Additionally, Socrates is also overly critical which makes a simple question of his thoughts about virtue transcends into a critical debate about the definition of the term. Such approaches are prevalent in most of Socrates debates that Plato published.

Socrates view in not skewed but rather one that is extremely objective. For instance, he considers aspects such as the definition of the terms (Lato 19). For instance, he gets lost in defining the term shape and color leading them to diverge from the question at hand before eventually giving a simple answer to the initial question. He concludes by arguing that virtues are gifts from the gods and that not everyone can possess them. Some people are lucky enough to have such gifts, whereas the rest are unfortunate not to have them. This definition not only shows brilliance from Socrates but also helps the reader understand some of the beliefs that Socrates held.

Socrates questions are legitimate but the detail according to each question took most of the time from the debate. By the end of the discussion, Meno had learned about many other things that were not remotely connected to the topic. As such, although some of the questions raised are not related to the topic at hand, Socrates brought in some thought-provoking questions to a simple debate, turning it into an intellectual avalanche of ideas about virtues. Socrates perspective is dependent on specific questions.

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