Literature Study GuidesDialogues Of PlatoThe Method Of Hypothesis Summary 86c 87c Summary

Dialogues of Plato | Study Guide


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Dialogues of Plato | The Method of Hypothesis Summary (86c–87c) | Summary



Now that he has shown that there is no obstacle to inquiring into the nature of virtue, Socrates proposes a return to the question, "What is virtue?" However, Meno wants to return to his original question about virtue: can it be taught, is it acquired through practice, or is it innate? Socrates reiterates his previous objection to the question, namely that he doesn't know what virtue is, so he is not really equipped to know whether or not it is teachable. Nevertheless, he agrees to attempt an investigation by proceeding according to a hypothesis: if virtue is a sort of knowledge, it can be taught. Meno agrees to the hypothesis.


Meno does not seem to have grasped the application of the demonstration of recollection to virtue. For if it's the case that the boy recollected mathematical knowledge, then it should be the case that knowledge of virtue is recollected, as well. It is innate. Socrates offers a connection between recollection and virtue by way of the hypothesis that, if virtue is knowledge, it can be taught. But it would seem that Meno has missed the point. However, innate knowledge does not mean that those things acquired by knowledge are also innate, such as virtue. This point becomes clear in the next section.

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