30 pages 1 hour read



Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | BCE

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Important Quotes

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“Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor by practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?” 

(Page 1)

The student Meno begins the dialog by asking Socrates for his views on virtue. His question contains several parts; Socrates will winnow it down so that the discussion can make a more focused analysis of the topic.

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“I confess with shame that I know literally nothing about virtue […]”

(Page 2)

Socrates displays false modesty by comparing himself unfairly to Meno’s famous teacher Gorgias. Socrates will lead Meno into a discussion of what it means to be virtuous, using his Socratic Method of questioning and close reasoning to arrive at conclusions Meno doesn’t expect.

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“Meno: […] Let us take first the virtue of a man—he should know how to administer the state, and in the administration of it to benefit his friends and harm his enemies; and he must also be careful not to suffer harm himself. A woman's virtue, if you wish to know about that, may also be easily described: her duty is to order her house, and keep what is indoors, and obey her husband. Every age, every condition of life, young or old, male or female, bond or free, has a different virtue: there are virtues numberless, and no lack of definitions of them; for virtue is relative to the actions and ages of each of us in all that we do.” 

(Pages 3-4)

Meno outlines his belief that virtues differ depending on the person and her or his role. Socrates will suggest instead that there’s something essential about virtue that holds true for all people.