No, indeed; there would be small reason in that. All this goes to show that Socrates does not give the answer and, given that we need to show that Socrates does not give the answer to prove the success of the demonstration, we can conclude that the demonstration proves that the slave boy and the reader can go from ignorance about the side of the 8-foot figure to, at least, true-belief about the side of the 8-foot figure. And might not the same be said of flute-playing, and of the other arts? Do you observe that here he seems to imply that virtue can be taught? Socrates values focus on the soul, and the ways the state of the soul can remain in its best condition Phil. And a person who had a right opinion about the way, but had never been and did not know, might be a good guide also, might he not? You know what question you want to answer and to which you dont yet know the answer ; you follow some appropriate procedure for answering questions of that type; and finally you come to know what you did not previously know, viz. O Meno, think that Anytus is in a rage. But acquiring these things—satisfying one's desires— can be done in a good way or a bad way. Socrates may prove his theorem using a diagram drawn with a stick in the dirt but we understand immediately that the theorem is necessarily and universally true.
Meno wants to return to the original question—whether virtue can be taught—and Socrates proposes two hypotheses to lead them on their way. The general view, in Plato, Aristotle and many who are influenced by them, is that true belief is mere commitment or assent to a proposition that happens to be true. So Meno has defined the general concept of virtue by identifying it with one specific kind of virtue. Consciousness, guarded by an army of opinions, filters experience into a manageable shape. Yes, certainly, Anytus; and many good statesmen also there always have been and there are still, in the city of Athens. Here was a teacher of virtue whom you admit to be among the best men of the past.
Indeed, I cannot believe you; for I know of a single man, Protagoras, who made more out of his craft than the illustrious Pheidias, who created such noble works, or any ten other statuaries. And now try and tell me the length of the line which forms the side of that double square: this is two feet-what will that be? However, in the case of the demonstration with the slave boy in the Meno, it seems that it matters very much because, as Socrates repeatedly says to Meno, he is at pains to make sure that the boy answers with opinions that are his own. What you are saying, Socrates, seems to be very like the truth. My view of this would be basically Humean: appearances to the contrary, all this is basically logic. And are there not here four equal lines which contain this space? Here at the moment when he is wanted we fortunately have sitting by us Anytus, the very person of whom we should make enquiry; to him then let us repair. Any Athenian gentleman, taken at random, if he will mind him, will do far more, good to him than the Sophists. The reasoning here is circular — one cannot at the same time infer the existence of God because one clearly and distinctly perceives it, and infer the truth of what one clearly and distinctly perceives from the existence of God.
But I am not enquiring of you who are the teachers who will corrupt Meno let them be, if you please, the Sophists ; I only ask you to tell him who there is in this great city who will teach him how to become eminent in the virtues which I was just, now describing. And the only right guides are knowledge and true opinion-these are the guides of man; for things which happen by chance are not under the guidance of man: but the guides of man are true opinion and knowledge. What makes you so angry with them? And yet, as we were just now saying, he did not know? But beyond it lies a deeper problem. In this paper, I shall argue that although the arguments support each other and the final conclusion, I do not agree with the argument that Socrates makes about one never doing retaliatory harm. All readers of Plato are familiar with the Socratic method known as the elenchus and the process of dialectic that Socrates employs with his interlocutors, but readers of Plato are also familiar with the, sometimes, disingenuous use of the dialogue form.
Will you be satisfied with it, as I am sure that I should be, if you would let me have a similar definition of virtue? Some things I have said of which I am not altogether confident. I only asked the question from habit; but if you can prove to me that what you say is true, I wish that you would. It is absurd to suggest that there are no problems and equally absurd to suggest that there are no problems that have been solved, so it must be possible to identify a path to the solving of a problem without having to have the answer to the problem. This has severe consequences, because unless Socrates can prove that the slave boy comes by the right answer in virtue of already knowing it in a past life, then the problem of enquiry is not solved by the theory of recollection, and the Platonic theory of knowledge cannot get off the ground. I will try and tell you why, Meno. Should we not send him to the physicians? Believing something is just taking it to be true - it may in fact be true or not. What the experiment shows is that the truths we seek in the elenchus are about things unseen.
A man who was blindfolded has only to hear you talking, and he would know that you are a fair creature and have still many lovers. And suppose that he were to pursue the matter in my way, he would say: Ever and anon we are landed in particulars, but this is not what I want; tell me then, since you call them by a common name, and say that they are all figures, even when opposed to one another, what is that common nature which you designate as figure-which contains straight as well as round, and is no more one than the other-that would be your mode of speaking? What will you put forth as the subject of enquiry? So they have something in common. But if neither the Sophists nor the gentlemen are teachers, clearly there can be no other teachers? I think that he is. When we say that we should be right in sending him to the physicians if we wanted him to be a physician, do we mean that we should be right in sending him to those who profess the art, rather than to those who do not, and to those who demand payment for teaching the art, and profess to teach it to any one who will come and learn? And they say-mark, now, and see whether their words are true-they say that the soul of man is immortal, and at one time has an end, which is termed dying, and at another time is born again, but is never destroyed. Surely, there is a huge gap here which needs to be filled -- but Plato does say a lot about this elsewhere.
I should like nothing better. This was the reason why they were unable to make others like themselves-because their virtue was not grounded on knowledge. Suppose that you call one of your numerous attendants, that I may demonstrate on him. Then we acknowledged that it was not taught, and was not wisdom? And then you will tell me about virtue? He has been telling me, Anytus, that he desires to attain that kind of wisdom and-virtue by which men order the state or the house, and honour their parents, and know when to receive and when to send away citizens and strangers, as a good man should. If I could rephrase it to see if it works I would say: True belief is any belief that is found to be true independent of any methods of obtaining certainty, whereas knowledge only arises once the certainty of its truth has been verified.
And if there are no teachers, neither are there scholars? Book One of Locke's Essay on Human Understanding is a famous polemic against the whole doctrine. Can you say that they are teachers in any true sense whose ideas are in such confusion? He argues, further, that since the boy didn't acquire such knowledge in this life, he must have acquired it at some earlier time; in fact, Socrates says, he must have always known it, which indicates that the soul is immortal. Then right opinion is not less useful than knowledge? But this would mean that no problems could be solved without prior knowledge of the answers and therefore there would be no problems as any answers to them would be known. Does not think the empirical approach is appropriate - sense perceptions, key things are how would we know what good, or just is. He only guesses that because the square is double, the line is double. But what does it show? Then virtue cannot be taught? But we weren't talking about knowledge. The entrance to the cave — the exit to the daylight of truth — is behind them, and so is a fire, with a walkway in front of it.