Plato And Meno: What Is Virtue?

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What is Virtue? It seems that we have seen variations of this question searched for down through the centuries. Plato asked about the nature of justice. Everyone from the Neo-Platonists to the Utilitarians debated the concept of goodness. We now have the postmodernists asking what exactly constitutes truth. The “what is F” question seems to be alive and well. Although I do not necessarily agree with his conclusion, I do believe that Socrates thoroughly shuts Meno down. In this paper, I will present how Socrates won the debate and why I do not believe that Meno ever stood a chance of winning. Before I can argue for my position of how Socrates won, I must first show the strategy he won with. My argument is that in each of his dissections …show more content…
“All right. Getting gold and silver is virtue. SO says Meno, family friend of the Great King! DO you add ‘justly and piously’ to this ‘getting,’ Meno? Or does that make no difference? Even if someone gets these things unjustly, do you call it virtue all the same? Certainly not, Socrates. But vice? Certainly. So it seems that justice, temperance, piety, or some other part of virtue must be added to this getting. If not, it will not be virtue, even though it is a getting of good things(78d).” Here we see Socrates devastate Meno with the unity assumption once again. “What I mean is this. I begged you to say what virtue as a whole is. But you, far from saying what it is. Claim that every action is virtue if it is done with a part of virtue – just as if you had said what virtue as a whole is and I already know it, and would continue to do so even if you broke it up into pieces. So it seems to me that you need to start again with the same question, my friend. What is virtue, if every action done with a part of virtue is virtue(79c)?” We see Socrates saying that Meno is once again stating that the individual pieces of virtue define what virtue is. This breaks the unity assumption. I hope that I have now shown that Socrates was doing nothing that using the unity and possession assumptions to attack Meno’s

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