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Meno by Plato Philosophical Ideas Essay

Relationship between recollection and Knowledge

Plato had the conviction that individuals learn totally by means of recollection. He had the view that individuals naturally possess knowledge and that what they need is a direction for them to come to terms with what they already knew. In illustrating this point, Socrates (the character that Plato uses in the Meno) starts by quoting a section of a poem that asserts that the soul is immortal and there is no knowledge gained in the underworld.


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According to Socrates, it is possible for a human to gain knowledge as he or she only requires bringing to mind that which his or her soul already knows, even though he or she is not conscious of knowing. Since Meno wanted to understand the concept further, Socrates called in a slave to exhibit the process of recollection using the Socratic Method.

His aim was to confirm that the servant, who lacks knowledge on geometry, is able to bring to mind some knowledge of the topic and give right answers when questioned by Socrates. To his disbelief, Meno observes the servant answer the geometric questions and he gets convinced on the argument put across by Socrates. The relationship between recollection and virtue

Although Socrates and Meno have come to a common understanding that neither can virtue be achieved through learning nor can it be inborn, they are now encountered with a final difficulty. All of them now examine the circumstances that make humans to be virtuous.

Plato (through Socrates) is satisfied to draw a conclusion to this mystery by asserting that virtuous statesmen exists only by means of divine inspiration. Plato claims that they talk about true things when under inspiration, but lack the knowledge of what they are proclaiming. In this sense, Plato relates virtue to a gift from the supernatural forces that goes along with a lack of understanding.

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He seems to be of the opinion that virtue is an attribute that is difficult to define. Rather than applying the views on knowledge he had before, he perceives virtue as an attribute that a person is endowed with, and does not come through deep philosophical thinking or too much learning.

My view on Plato’s comments

My personal view on acquiring knowledge is contrary to what Plato postulates in the Meno. I have the opinion that when a person is born, he or she is like a blank page. For that reason, to fill the blank page, the person must be taught and learn without inherently acquiring the knowledge.


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Everything that a person learns comes through teaching, but not from an inherent mechanism whereby a soul has to preserve knowledge. Therefore, I do not find Plato’s ideas to be compelling. Plato’s Ideas about recollection may continue to inform or influence what people know and learn.

For example, how does a kindergarten kid learn anything and realize that he or she has learnt without knowing if the thing existed? The kid would learn about different things and what they stand for simply because he or she was made to understand. Plato ends without giving any definitive answer to the term virtue. The dialogue strives to find the answer to the problem of virtue, hence exposes the fact that humans have knowledge and they do not know. Rigorous questioning exposes this inherent knowledge in human beings.