Meno´S Paradox Presented By Plato Essay

1044 words - 5 pages

The critical argument, known as Meno's Paradox, as presented in Plato's “Meno”, questions the very basis of Socrates method of arriving at knowledge of unknown things through inquiry. If Socrates truly wants to gain knowledge of what no one else knows, then the content of that “unknown” thing will produce absolutely nothing. The paradox bases itself in stating that humans can never learn anything that they don't already obtain knowledge of. As identified by Meno, the paradox is this: "And how are you going to inquire about it, Socrates, when you do not at all know what it is? For what sort of thing, from among the ones you do not know, will you take as the object of your inquiry? And even if ...view middle of the document...

If one may interpret the "something" you can or cannot learn to be universal than the argument becomes sound again. Since a universal is defined as the common principle of a group of facts, there is no way for a person to only somewhat understand the meaning. It would be inadequate understanding to do such a thing.

To disprove the paradox that Meno offers, Socrates then presents the theory of Recollection. He claims that a person is merely recollecting what the soul had already had knowledge of but somehow the soul just forgotten overtime. In recollection, Socrates says that the human soul is reincarnated in a cycle of life and death, and between them both your soul stays in the Underworld. Once the soul is reborn, it then recollects information that it already has knowledge of, rather than really learning anything new. Though, It would seem that a mortal body should not know such knowledge of the soul because the knowledge is a type of immortal knowledge. Obtaining “knowledge” of this type would require someone to have had significant information on it, as Socrates would say, in order to recollect this type of knowledge. But what is the content of the information and what was said in it, so that other people may also come to fully understand such overwhelming immortal knowledge through the soul’s journey? This is something that I don’t even think Socrates would have the answer for.

Socrates presents a brilliant example to support his claim, and I find the way in which he explains it very convincing and easy to comprehend. In attempting to show that even if you don’t know something, that something can still be learned, Socrates speaks with one of Meno’s slaves and “teaches” him how to compute the baseline of an eight-foot square. He asks a simple slave boy, who has no prior knowledge of what he’s about to be presented, a series of questions about the areas of some squares, which grow increasingly difficult. Socrates, throughout this experiment and explanation to Meno, is present to act as...

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