Meno : Humans Can Become Virtuous Essay

This essay has a total of 2068 words and 7 pages.

Meno : Humans Can Become Virtuous


Before reading the Meno I thought I had a clear definition of exactly what virtue meant.
Once I read the dialogue I realized that I only have an idea of what virtue and being
virtuous means. I definitely think that it has many aspects to it, including moderation,
justice, effort, patience, knowledge and being able to live peacefully with others. I
believe that virtue is something that everyone has their own meaning for, yet everyone’s
meanings go along the same lines. Since virtue is more complex than most parts of life and
thought, I do not necessarily believe that virtue could be taught to Meno or anyone else
in society for that matter, however I do believe that over time any person has is within
themselves to be a virtuous person. I also believe that to become virtuous through life
you need willingness, positive examples and many good and bad experiences.


First of all, part of life that one must posses at some point to become virtuous is the
will to be a good person. Throughout the Meno, although Meno does give his own ideas of
what virtue may be, he does agree with Socrates quite often. This shows that he is
open-minded and is willing to learn about what virtue could be and how he can become
virtuous, as though Socrates has all the answers. Meno understands that Socrates is a wise
man and I am sure Meno feels like he could learn something from him. Meno also discussed
the possibilities of what virtue is for quite a while with Socrates but kept on until he
ended the conversation, even after having shown frustration with Socrates by comparing him
to a broad torpedo fish. Some may say he is not showing willingness by only giving short
answers to Socrates’ questions. However, I see those short answers more as eagerness to
hear more of what Socrates has to say. For example on page 29, Meno and Socrates were
discussing the difference between knowledge and true opinion when Socrates speculated that
someone with a right onion would succeed as long as his opinion is correct. Here, Meno
says “.. And it makes me wonder Socrates, this being the case, why knowledge is prized far
more highly than right onion, and why they are different.” To acknowledge what Meno
stated, Socrates asks, “Do you know why you wonder, or shall I tell you?” And then Meno
answers, “By all means tell me.” To some Meno’s response to Socrates question on page 29
could be interpreted as a quick, sarcastic answer to end the conversation. However I think
that it was very sincere and that he really does want to learn from Socrates. Besides,
Meno is not arguing with him and refusing to hear what he has to say. Also, the fact that
Meno gives so many definitions that contradict each other or are just completely
different, such as being able to rule over men or “justice is virtue,” shows that he
really does not know what virtue is. I also feel that the example I just used from page 29
including Meno’s statement “By all means tell me,” shows that he cares to know what virtue
is. I think that since he has been so accepting of Socrates, he can accept what virtue
really is and can accept it as part of his life. On page 20 Meno says, “But Socrates, I
should be most pleased to investigate and hear your answer to my original question,
whether we should try on the assumption that virtue is something teachable, or is a
natural gift, or in whatever way it comes to men.” I think that not only does this show
Meno’s interest in learning, but it also and most importantly expresses that he is open to
the thought that virtue may just come to a person. He does not seem to think that there is
only way it may come, but rather, he is open to many ways.


Secondly, something else Meno needs in his life to become virtuous are good examples set
for him and positive support. Socrates uses the lines of a poet by the name of Theognis on
page 28 saying, “Eat and drink with these men and keep their company. Please those whose
power is great, for you will learn goodness from the good. If you mingle with bad men you
will lose even what wit you posses.” I believe this to be a perfect example saying that
associating with good people will lead one to have good examples set for them but
associating with people who are bad will not. Also I believe that maybe people could be
taught to look inside themselves and bring out the good which could make them more
virtuous by acting on their good qualities. Socrates could be the person to teach Meno to
look inside himself to bring out the good. Socrates could give Meno great amounts of
positive support whereas someone as closed-minded as Anytus would not be good for this.


Experiences, good and bad, are something to learn from. Having these, Meno could become a
virtuous man. Bad experiences can teach one lessons and maybe Meno has never had to deal
with too many bad experiences that have had anything to do with virtue. But that does not
mean he will not face them later in life. On page 9, Socrates says to Meno, “Because you
are forever giving orders in a discussion, as spoiled people do, who behave like tyrants
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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