Plato's Meno: A Theory Of Recollection

1396 Words 6 Pages
“We do not learn, and that what we call learning is only a process of recollection.”
- Plato.
As the earliest philosopher and a pivotal person from his classic era, Plato is often mistaken to be considered as merely reproducing Socratic rhetoric. Along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle, Plato is known to have laid the very foundations of Western philosophy and science. In Meno, one of the first Platonic dialogues, Plato offers his own unique philosophical theory, infused with his teacher’s brilliant sophistry.
Amongst the discussion of common topic virtue in Meno one might come across this very simple but a tricky paradox:
“How can one be virtuous, or seek virtue, when one cannot know what it is? “How will you
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- Meno, 81c-d.
Thus, follows the conclusion in Meno that education cannot teach knowledge, but rather aids a student to recall what the soul already knows, i.e. the unchangeable Knowledge of Forms.
Even though we get an introduction to this theory of recollection in his first writing, you might say it’s a devotion or just a mere fascination… but if you’re familiar with his work you may know you might notice we get a reintroduction to this theory in his fourth and last writing which is Plato’s Phaedo.
We know that Phaedo tells us about Socrates’s last days and his trial in court, but we must also know that it shows us how Socrates did not surrender his exploration of the nature of the soul. Using the Socratic Method and the Recollection Argument, he was able to cleverly prove the soul existence before birth and that it is immortal. But before we dive deeper into an understanding of Socrates’s Recollection Argument, let us understand the premises upon which the Recollection Argument is
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But seeing this theory my own true opinion, on the other hand, is that even though I belief in soul’s immortality, I do not believe in this theory of recollection, although the above examples and arguments of differentiating knowledge and opinion strengthen Plato’s theory of recollection, the theory itself is not substantiated enough to prove the soul’s immortality.
Other statements in both books Meno and Phaedo prove to be hypocritical. If all humans possess innate knowledge through recollection, this would refute Socrates’ frequent statement that he does not have any knowledge at all. I mean Other explanations are also lacking: if we are to believe this theory of recollected knowledge, then how did the soul initially gain any knowledge? If the opinion is temporary to each body, then what was the source of this knowledge of forms we recollect?
At best, situational examples in the dialogue (including Meno slave’s example of him recollecting mathematical forms when asked of certain questions) serve as the strongest argument for the claim – they deconstruct the highly abstract conceptions behind recollection but yet many challenges to Plato are left

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