The Definition Of Virtue In Plato's Meno

In this dialogue, Meno tells Socrates what he believes virtue is, and Socrates rejects Meno’s definitions and indirectly tells him the type of definition he is looking for.
When Socrates asks Meno to give him a definition of virtue, Meno says that “a man virtue is to be able to manage public affairs” and that there are different types of virtues (71e). Meno says that a man virtue is different from a woman’s virtue, which is also different from a child’s virtue and so on. Socrates wants Meno to tell him what is the common characteristic that all virtues share, whereas is a man’s virtue, a woman’s virtue, etc. have in common in order to be considered a virtue. He uses the example of bees to show Meno that although there are many types of bees,
…show more content…
Socrates in response asks him, “Is virtue the same in the case of a child or a slave, namely, for them to be able to rule over a master, and do you think that he who rules is still a slave?” (73d). One problem with Meno’s definition is that it does not include all members of a society because a child or a slave is not covered by this definition due to their social status. Another problem is pointed out by Socrates, who asks Meno if virtue is only about ruling over people or if it is actually about ruling over people justly and not unjustly (74e) because ruling over people is just an action, and the manner someone rules is what determines if it is virtue or not. In addition, the main problem with this definition is that Meno gives a definition of what a particular virtue and not what is virtue. Here Socrates wants a definition of the genus and not the species. This is the reason why Socrates uses the example of the shape to show Meno that there is a difference between a shape and shape. Since there are many different types of shapes and one differs from another, each type of shape would be considered a species, but because they are all considered shapes, the word shape here would be considered the …show more content…
Socrates deconstructs this definition with a series of questions that he asks Meno. First, Socrates asks Meno to tell him if he really believes that some people desire bad things and others desire good things, and if there are people who, knowing that something is bad, still desire it (77c-d). Socrates points out that these people really do not know that these things that they desire are bad because they assume these things are beneficial (77e-78). Socrates shows Meno that the definition is wrong because no one wants to be unhappy or miserable, therefore, no one would acquire something that would harm himself. Everyone desires good things, even people without

Related Documents

Related Topics