Ideas from 'Meno' by Plato [385 BCE], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Complete Works' by Plato (ed/tr Cooper,John M.) [Hackett 1997,0-87220-349-2]].

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas

1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Spiritual qualities only become advantageous with the growth of wisdom
                        Full Idea: If virtue is a beneficial attribute of spirit, it must be wisdom; for spiritual qualities are not in themselves advantageous, but become so with wisdom…..Hence men cannot be good by nature.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 88c)
                        A reaction: Personally I haven't got any 'spiritual qualities', so I don't really understand this.
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 2. Aporiai
How can you seek knowledge of something if you don't know it?
                        Full Idea: How will you aim to search for something you do not know at all? If you should meet with it, how will you know that this is the thing that you did not know?
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 80d05)
                        A reaction: Vasilis Politis cites this as a nice example of the 'aporiai' (puzzles) which Aristotle said were the foundation of enquiry. Nowadays the problem is called the 'paradox of enquiry'.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 3. Value of Knowledge
True opinions only become really valuable when they are tied down by reasons
                        Full Idea: True opinions are a fine thing and all they do is good, …but they escape from a man's mind, so they are not worth much until one ties them down by (giving) an account of the reason why.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 98a3)
                        A reaction: This gives justification the role of guarantee, stabilising and securing true beliefs (rather than triggering some new thing called 'knowledge').
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / b. Recollection doctrine
Seeking and learning are just recollection
                        Full Idea: Seeking and learning are in fact nothing but recollection.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 81d)
                        A reaction: This is a prelude to the famous conversation with the slave boy about geometry. You don't have to follow Plato into the doctrine of reincarnation; this remark is a key slogan for all rationalists. As pupils in maths lessons, we pull knowledge from within.
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / b. Need for justification
As a guide to action, true opinion is as good as knowledge
                        Full Idea: True opinion is as good a guide as knowledge for the purpose of acting rightly.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 97b)
                        A reaction: This is the germ of Peirce's epistemology - that knowledge is an interesting theoretical concept, but opinion/belief is what matters, and most needs explanation.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
You don't need to learn what you know, and how do you seek for what you don't know?
                        Full Idea: You could argue that a man cannot discover what he does know or what he doesn't. The first needs no discovery, and how do you begin looking for the second?
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 80e)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
Is virtue taught, or achieved by practice, or a natural aptitude, or what?
                        Full Idea: Is virtue something that can be taught, or does it come by practice, or is it a natural aptitude, or something else?
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 70a)
If virtue is a type of knowledge then it ought to be taught
                        Full Idea: If virtue is some sort of knowledge, then clearly it could be taught.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 87c)
It seems that virtue is neither natural nor taught, but is a divine gift
                        Full Idea: If our discussion is right, virtue is acquired neither by nature nor by teaching. Whoever has it gets it by divine dispensation, without taking thought.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 99e)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
Even if virtues are many and various, they must have something in common to make them virtues
                        Full Idea: Even if virtues are many and various, at least they all have some common character which makes them all virtues.
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 72c)
How can you know part of virtue without knowing the whole?
                        Full Idea: Does anyone know what a part of virtue is without knowing the whole?
                        From: Plato (Meno [c.385 BCE], 79c)