Plato presents Socrates’ views concerning the question of whether virtue is knowledge. This dialogue, which Plato is most famously in Meno, focuses on Socrates’ view that virtue can be taught. Socrates uses a variety of arguments to discuss virtue in this dialogue. These arguments address how virtue is defined as well as whether people can obtain it. He considers whether virtue can actually be acquired, whether it is possible to teach virtue or if one must be born with it. In this essay, I will examine the question whether virtue can actually be taught. Plato says that virtue cannot be taught. In this essay I’ll suggest that Plato could ask the same questions but frame them differently. He would probably get a completely different answer. In particular, I suggest that Plato might have better asked whether virtue could be taught than whether it could be learned.
Meno asks Socrates whether virtue could be taught. The argument drifts then to another question about knowledge. Meno then suggested an interesting paradox. One can never find anything new. In either case, one knows it already and it is not necessary to find it out. Or, one doesn’t know what it is, and it is difficult to recognize it when it is discovered (Plato 1997. 80d-e. That is to say, if one doesn’t already know what arete is (virtue), he can’t even search it. If he doesn’t know, then even he searches, it won’t be possible to tell when one has found it. Socrates suggests a way out of this quandary, which is based in the Pythagorean view regarding the immortal soul. According to this view, the soul is reincarnated every time the physical body passes away and thus can never be destroyed. The paradox of not being able to learn anything new and yet knowing that we’re always learning, leads us to conclude that learning is a matter of recalling past experiences and knowledge. Also, there is no teaching; only remembering.
He demonstrated with a young man who was a slave and didn’t know any geometry in the Meno. He demonstrated mathematical skills by asking the young boy questions.
Meno asks the same question again, this time asking whether virtue can either be taught, or obtained by nature. Socrates gives his consent to proceed, but points out that they need to reach a common ground due the fact that neither can identify virtue at this time. Meno and Socrates agree that virtue cannot ever be taught if knowledge is lacking. Knowledge can, however, be taught. He points out that teaching is possible only when one is able to understand the subject matter being taught. If someone doesn’t know how the car works, it is very unlikely that they can teach anyone else. Meno and Socrates are in agreement that no one can truly know what “virtue”, so it cannot be taught. Main keyword of this article “virtue essay”, read my paper below.
Socrates stated that virtue should be taught. He suggested that we should be able not only to learn from the teachers but also from those who practice it. Socrates claims that doctors, teachers of medicine, horsemanship and other disciplines, are available. Exist and people recognize them as teachers. However, opinions differ on whether the Sophists do actually teach virtue. Thucydides was one of Socrates’s two sons. One of these sons was not considered to have been virtuous. Thucydides did educate his children in many disciplines. But it seems that he could never find a teacher to teach virtue, even though teachers were available for other aspects. He was not able to teach virtue, even though his own reputation for being virtuous. Virtue can’t be considered knowledge. For something to be known, it must be taught to others. Socrates concludes that virtue can’t be taught and there is no way to acquire it. “We see virtue as being given to us by God whenever it is due” (reference?)
Plato could have had a different approach to the questions, and gotten a different outcome, in my view. Plato could have asked the question if virtue can be learned, instead of asking whether virtue may be taught. I’m referring to the fact, that asking whether someone can be taught something requires that there are two people involved in the learning process. Asking whether someone can be taught something means asking whether they were taught it by a teacher. Asking whether I learned geometry is asking if I was taught it or if I learned it through a book.
Learning comes in many forms. Learning something does not necessarily require the teacher’s strict guidance. You can learn from people who have virtue but may not even know they are being studied. So, while a man may be learning virtues, his “teachers,” may be virtuous. Learning can also be done through experience. One way to acquire virtue is through personal experience. In this example, “teacher” could be both the reflective nature of the student and his/her life experiences. There is another kind of learning. The man can still learn, even though he may not be able to explain how he learned what he knows. A relative may have been going through the exact same problem as him. It is possible to know the problem but not explain it. Another example is musicians or painters, who know their craft well and are able perform well, but find it difficult to explain why.
This makes it more difficult to ask whether virtue is possible to be taught or learned. Plato is correct when he says that virtue cannot even be taught. I am sure that most people have heard or seen someone who is able to recall “rules”, such as “be compassionate” or “be honest”, but can’t put them into practice. In this sense, virtue cannot even be taught. As stated above, the ability of being virtuous, as well as the ability and instinct to be musical is a part of the human ability to be virtuous. You could argue, then, that instinct or judgement is what determines whether a person should be able to provide help for a friend.
This is to say, while virtue cannot be taught it doesn’t mean that virtue can’t learn. Plato says that virtue is an inborn quality. This is certainly true in a small degree. Some people possess exceptional qualities such as compassion and other virtues. Since their birth. Others appear to be born with no moral awareness, which is necessary for virtue to exist. This means that virtue is not something that can be learned but inborn.
Just as we are able to understand the fact one can be taught how virtuous behavior but fail to live up to it in practice, so is the opposite. People can also refine their virtue understanding, practice reflectively, and as they get older, their ideas about how to behave virtuously change. Plato’s questions could have been asked in a different manner (that is, if Plato had inquired whether virtue can actually be learned rather than whether virtue can ever be taught), and he would have likely found a more affirmative answer.
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