Single Idea 8003

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue]

Full Idea

Socrates' great point of agreement with the sophists is his acceptance of the thesis that areté is teachable. But paradoxically he denies that there are teachers.


'Areté' is excellence or virtue

Gist of Idea

Socrates agrees that virtue is teachable, but then denies that there are teachers


report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.3

Book Reference

MacIntyre,Alasdair: 'A Short History of Ethics' [Routledge 1967], p.21

A Reaction

This is part of Socrates's presentation of himself as 'not worthy'. Virtue would be teachable, if only anyone knew what it was. He's wrong. Lots of people have a pretty good idea of virtue, and could teach it. The problem is in the pupils.