In this paper, I will investigate the basic characteristics and properties of Plato’s “recollection” in Meno. In my opinion, Plato uses “recollection” to refute this argument, “whether people know or do not know, discovering is unnecessary.” He believes there is a state between “do not know” and “know”, he calls it “forget”. Therefore, when people are learning or discovering, they are just recollecting things they already forget.
In general, when people are learning, they achieve a state of understanding by learning something they consider they do not know. However, this common-sense contains a very irrational factor, that is, if a person have no idea about something exists, then for this person, that kind of things does not exist, hence the person will not emerges a desire to acquire that kind of things, then this person cannot behave like discovering or learning. If a person emerges a desire for something, that person must already know it sometime in the past in some way. Only in this way, it will make sense.
However, when people are learning, in common-sense is to learn, to discover things that they do not know, in other words, because they do not know, they precisely need to learn. But how to learn, to discover something people do not know? People are learning or discovering, but they do not know what they are learning or discovering, this is impossible. And then again, if people already know what they are discovering or learning, there is no need for them to learn or discover. In this way, people either know or do not know what they are learning or discovering, learning and discovering are impossible or unnecessary. The essential start point that Plato proposes “recollection” in Meno is to refute this argument about learning and discovering problem which has a logical dilemma. In other words, through “recollection” Plato reveals that there is a cognitive state between “know” and “do not know”, named “forget”, to solve this logical dilemma. Briefly, people currently forget things that they already know in the past, then through learning, they can recollect knowledge about that kind of things, this is so called learning. Therefore the meaning of learning is not knowing something people do not know completely, but something they already forget. Thus, Socrates says “a process men call learning—discovering everything else for himself, if he is brave and does not tire of the search, for searching and learning are, as a whole, recollection.” (Plato, Meno p71, 81d)
The purpose Plato mentions “recollection” is to solve the logical dilemma about discovering, but its essential purpose is to reveal the meaning of Socrates’s pursuit of true knowledge. Such as, in Meno, the discussion between Socrates and Meno about virtue is the most representative example of Socrates’s pursuit of true knowledge.
In Meno, it begins a discussion with the question “can virtue be taught?” Socrates has a different way thinking about questions. He believes that before...