Plato - Meno

Plato's Republic is widely recognized as his philosophic and literary masterpiece, but many of his shorter dialogues are also exquisite demonstrations of philosophical brilliance and argumentative cunning. The Apology, for instance, in which Socrates defends the value of philosophy and the principles that informed his own moral character, is universally taught in literature, rhetoric, oratory and philosophy courses as one of the most powerful speeches ever delivered. His Euthyphro makes an intellectually convincing case, and a hilarious one at that, for the independence of morality from religious foundations. The Symposium provides a fascinating account of the nature of love and its relationship to Beauty. The Crito provides a dramatic account of justice and of the appropriate response to injustice. Etc.

In Plato's Meno, showcased here today, we encounter, condensed into one brief discussion, an important account about the importance of defining concepts in terms of their necessary and sufficient conditions, a theoretical framework for how to investigate philosophical questions, a beguiling paradox about inquiry and whether we can know what we think we know, a fascinating account (and proof?) regarding the immateriality and immortality of the soul, as well as a theory of knowledge as recollection from previous existences, some allusions to Plato's theory of the Forms, an explicit demonstration of the Socratic method and its importance for philosophical reasoning, a demonstration of hypothesis testing through dialectics, and much, much more... all in the classic style for which Socrates was reviled by his detractors, loved by his pupils and admirers, and celebrated by lovers of wisdom ever since...




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