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10 - M enos Paradox I A Puzzle about Definit ions Socrates...

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Meno’s Paradox I. A Puzzle about Definitions Socrates has told us he knows how to reject faulty definitions. But how does he know when he has succeeded in finding the right definition? Meno raises an objection to the entire definitional search in the form of (what has been called) “Meno’s Paradox,” or “The Paradox of Inquiry” ( Meno 80d-e). The argument can be shown to be sophistical, but Plato took it very seriously. This is obvious, since his response to it is to grant its central claim: that you can’t come to know something that you didn’t already know. That is, that inquiry never produces new knowledge, but only recapitulates things already known. This leads to the famous Doctrine of Recollection. I I. An Objection to Inquiry A. The argument known as “Meno’s Paradox” can be reformulated as follows: 1. If you know what you’re looking for, inquiry is unnecessary. 2. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, inquiry is impossible.
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