Question;

Instructions:
Please read the section “Meno” from the Book Plato: Five Dialogues second Edition by G.M.A
grube and John M. Cooper.

● Read “The protagoras Excerpt”,
Write a 3- 4 page essay analyzing the definitions mentioned about Virtue and determine
whether you defend it. In other words, are these definitions good counters?
Look the the Argument and address it, also
give your own thoughts / argument about it
Please Mainlyfocus on these Questions. Answer ALL the following questions.
1. There are Three parts in the section, “Meno”, explaining whether Virtuous can be taught.
Explain part three, which continues after the story of the “Slave boy”.
2. Can we be Virtuous?
3. What does it take to be taught Virtuous?
4. Whose argument is correct? Protagoras or Socrates? Explain Why.
5. What is Virtue? (In the Section of Meno)
6. Is it through Wisdom that can help us be taught to be Virtuous?
7. Based on the first, second, and mainly the third definition, What do they all have in
common?
8. Explain how God helps us to be taught to be Virtuous.
9. Explain and give your own argument about these definitions:
a. Socrates:
“ Then if they managed justly and moderately, they must do so with
justice and moderation? – Necessarily. So both the man and the woman, if they
are to be good, need the same things, justice and moderation. – So it seems.
What about a child and an old man? Can they possibly be good if they are
intemperated and unjust? – Certainly not. But if they are moderate and just? –
Yes. So all human beings are good in the same way, for they become good by
acquiring the same qualities. – It seems so.”
b. Meno: “I think courage is a virtue, and moderation , wisdom, and munificence,
and very many others.”

c. Socrates: “Come then, let us try to tell you what shape it is. See whether you will
accept that it is this: Let us say that that shape is that which alone of existing
things always follows color. Is that satisfactory to you, or do you look for it in
some other way? 

Answer;

Introduction

Plato’s dialogue Meno is considered as one of his most significant and essential works, the dialogue ranges from various theoretical questions such as what is a virtue and can it be taught? Socrates and Meno are the main participants of the dialogue; they commence their dialogue by discussing the meaning of virtue and proof from the Socrates that some of our knowledge is inborn. The last debate is on why there are no teachers to teach virtues and whether virtue can be taught at all. This paper will mainly focus on the Meno dialogue and the different definitions and conclusions reached by the two key participants of the dialogue inputting some modern perceptions of virtue.

Virtue Definitions

Virtue is the state of having a moral excellence and showing good behavioral standards, in the dialogue Meno, virtue is defined by both the Socrates and Meno.  Plato, Grube, and Cooper (2002, p. 89) indicate that Socrates defined virtue as the knowledge of doing good because all living things aspire to be good and therefore if anyone does not know what good is they cannot do good and will constantly aim for a wrong goal. Meno, on the other hand, provided three definitions for virtue; the first one he listed instances of honorable conduct for men, women, and children, giving the example that the virtuous conduct of men is to manage their public affairs. The second definition he pointed out that virtue is the ability to rule over all; Meno’s last definition of virtue indicated that it is the yearning of beautiful things and having the ability to acquire them all. All definitions provided by Meno and Socrates have the similarity aspect of doing good, so generally virtue can be defined as an act of doing good to others and to oneself.

Socrates indicated that all humans are good in a similar manner since they became good by obtaining the same traits. I do not agree with this statement since there are many different aspects of being good and people with different acts can be considered virtuous, for example, a person can have good leadership skills, but they have poor technical skills, and others have better technical skills, but have poor leadership skills. Meno indicates that courage, moderation, wisdom and many other good characters are the definition of virtue, I agree with this definition as it covers a broader aspect of characteristics in a virtuous person. Socrates used shape and color to define virtue, he indicated that after shape, color is the next major factor that is noticed in an object; virtuous individuals can also be recognized through their characters some of which are external.  I believe there is some truth to this sentiment since virtues are characters that can be used to recognize a morally upright individual.

Can being Virtuous be taught?

In part three of the dialogue, Meno asked Socrates if virtue could be taught, Socrates attempted to scrutinize any person who claimed to know the meaning of the term virtue. However, Socrates pointed out that virtue is something important and anything that is important should be accompanied by wisdom and knowledge, for example, courage is beneficial to a wise person, but to a fool, it is sheer recklessness. The argument is not convincing enough since it does not clearly show the relation between wisdom and virtue. According to Plato, Grube, and Cooper (2002, p. 92),  Socrates indicated that virtue cannot be taught since it comes as a gift from God, but after a lengthy dialogue and argument with Meno the two concluded that virtue can be learned through repetition and from a very young age. I believe the question asked was very confusing and hard to reach a conclusive answer; the better question would be if virtue can be learned. Many people are taught music in school, but they lack the ability to be musical, the same thing with virtue, most people are taught the theoretical aspect of being virtuous, but only a few are able to practice it in real life.

In my point of view, anyone can be virtuous, provided they have the right background and are surrounded by an honorable environment, it is really hard for an adult who is not virtuous to suddenly adopt good virtues and start practicing them. Children and sometimes adults are easily influenced by their surroundings and are likely to pick up behaviors practiced around them, when the surrounding environment is upright it is most likely that all individuals within the environment become virtuous. I believe it takes the practice of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) for one to be considered virtuous. A virtuous person knows what he/she is doing, the reasons behind the action, and undertakes their actions with firmness and certainty.

Protagoras vs Socrates

According to Protagoras virtue is teachable since political systems are founded on the basis that all citizens can be virtuous, he also argued that the justice system was created on the belief that people perceived as bad and dangerous can be reformed and taught on how to be virtuous (Plato, & Bartlett, 2004, p. 19). The argument between Socrates and the Protagoras was lengthy since they both wanted to justify their answers and views on different aspects of virtue. Socrates believed that virtue could only be acquired through God’s intervention, and it would only be gifted to people filled with wisdom and knowledge. He also believed that virtue is a type of knowledge; Protagoras argued that if virtue was a form of knowledge then it was teachable, they both ended up arguing against their own ideas which were presented at the beginning of the dialogue creating a very complicated and uncertain conclusion on the matter. I, however, believe that virtue can be taught at a certain age and it can also be learnt, I support Protagoras’s original idea which indicated that virtue was based on political and justice systems. Over the years people have gone to jail and come out reformed due to the virtuous lessons they are taught in prison, this is a clear indication that virtue is a lesson that can be learnt by any individual.

Wisdom and Virtue

According to Socrates virtue is highly relatable to wisdom and knowledge, he also pointed out that God helps people be virtuous through his commandments and rules. I believe that most people who have faith in God and follow his commandment have a high possibility of being virtuous, however, it not always the case since various religious individuals have been linked to multiple criminal acts around the world meaning that they are not virtuous in character. Wisdom facilitates a person to be virtuous to some extent, but it does not necessarily instill permanent virtues in an individual. I do not believe that it is only through wisdom that people are able to understand the concept of virtue since even illiterate and unwise people can be good and be considered virtuous in the society.

Conclusion

Plato’s dialogue, Memo, provides a broader understanding of virtue in terms of definitions and characters associated with a virtuous person. Today, being virtuous means doing well in all aspects regardless of the availability of resources or consequences of doing good, religious individuals such as staunch Christians and Muslims are often seen as virtuous individuals who uphold excellence in morality. I believe the act of virtue can be learnt and adapted by anyone regardless of their age or their past since being virtuous also means helping others do good and acclimatize excellent behaviors in individuals.

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