This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Plato’s Views on Virtue and Whether It Can Be Taught

downloadDownload printPrint

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay. We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

Download PDF

In his work, “Meno”, Plato discusses human virtue and whether or not it is taught to us. Structured as a dialogue between Socrates and Meno, Plato defines virtue, what it means to be virtuous, and how virtuosity is determined, through these characters. As Meno and Socrates discuss their beliefs on whether or not virtue can be taught, the Socrates dialogue is extensively used to question and invalidate Meno’s views on virtue. The Socrates dialogue, or an argument type that uses the question-and-answer method to critique and discuss classic, moral and philosophical problems, is repeatedly employed by Socrates in Plato’s Meno. By using this technique, Socrates not only proves there is no tangible answer to the question “what is virtue”, but he also differentiates between knowledge and belief, terms which were, and still are seemingly interchangeable.

Plato first introduces the discussion on virtue, with Meno asking Socrates if virtue can be taught. Although Socrates is unable to answer Meno, he posits that no one really knows what virtue is or if it can be taught. Meno then begins the dialogue of differentiating the virtue of man and women, in an attempt to explain that virtue can indeed be taught. Meno persists, stating that a man’s virtue is found in how he conducts himself, and in his interactions with others, while a woman’s virtue is found in her obedience and domestic abilities. In his response, Socrates firmly dissents. There is no age or gender- dependent scale on which virtue is measured, according to Socrates. Virtue must be common to all people, man or woman, young or old, master or servant, and its application must be universal. As he argues, Socrates begins to point out this universality of virtue, and how it might be considered an inherent value all humans possess, irrespective of their status or place in society. To support his argument, Socrates references the slaveholder and slave that have gathered before Meno and himself. According to Socrates, whether or not the slaveholder “governs well” must not be deemed “a virtue of a slave, because then he would not be a slave.”

Meno finally agrees that virtues are common to all people, and presents his definition of virtue, which is to “desire beautiful things and have the power to acquire them”. Socrates once again disagrees, contending that telling good and evil apart is no easy feat. In his argument against Meno’s definition of virtue, Socrates references the social climate both he and Meno live in, to give proof to the fact that few among them are able to discern right from wrong. Socrates also questions Meno on whether or not the means justify the acquiring of good things. Shouldn’t good things be acquired with virtue for them to be deemed good ? Although neither Socrates nor Meno present a legitimate definition of virtue, Socrates’ arguments suggest that “virtue” is an amalgamation, not separate virtues as previously posed by Meno. Most striking in Plato’s “Meno”, is the “Meno paradox”: “how will you look for something when you don’t in the least know what it is? ” In response, Socrates explains that souls hold knowledge within them, regardless of what the body knows or has learned. This allows people to simply “recollect” inborn knowledge, as proven in Socrates interrogation of the slave boy.

Predominant in “Meno”, is also the disagreement between Meno and Socrates on whether or not Sophists or Athenians are the “true teachers of virtue.” Socrates continues this discussion by asserting that it is “better to know that one does not know” than to “bolding and grandly” claim knowledge – an attack on Sophist teachers and principles. Socrates further interjects with his Athenian opinion of the distinction between “true belief” and “knowledge”. According to Socrates, true beliefs are very useful, but must be restrained so as to not be considered part of our learned knowledge. With at times confusing explanations, admonishment of Sophist principles, and the use of the Socrates dialogue, Socrates reiterates that virtue is indeed good, but only when it is in “directed by wisdom”. As the exchange between Socrates and Meno draws to a close, both agree that virtue cannot be taught and that it is instead “a gift from the gods”.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Plato’s Views On Virtue And Whether It Can Be Taught. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from
“Plato’s Views On Virtue And Whether It Can Be Taught.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Plato’s Views On Virtue And Whether It Can Be Taught. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Jan. 2022].
Plato’s Views On Virtue And Whether It Can Be Taught [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2022 Jan 27]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.


    Attention! This essay is not unique. You can get a 100% Plagiarism-FREE one in 30 sec

    Receive a 100% plagiarism-free essay on your email just for $4.99
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample

    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!


    Professional writers and researchers


    Sources and citation are provided


    3 hour delivery