30 pages 1 hour read



Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | BCE

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Meno’s Paradox

Meno asks Socrates how people can learn a new topic if they won’t be able to recognize correct answers when they see them: “[…] how will you ever know that this is the thing which you did not know?” (23) This dilemma, Meno’s Paradox, Socrates resolves by invoking the principle of recollection: Every human soul, reborn over and over, by now knows the essential facts about the universe and can judge new information by comparing it to what it recollects from that inner storehouse of knowledge.

Meno Problem

Meno asks a second famous question, the Meno Problem. It asks why knowledge is better than “opinion,” or traditional beliefs. Socrates answers that opinions can be correct, and in that sense as useful as knowledge, but that knowledge is superior, since it is chained to experience and solidified by the soul’s recollection of truths already learned during its many incarnations.


People understand many things intuitively; Socrates believes this is because their immortal souls, reincarnated endlessly, have acquired a basic understanding of every important thing in the universe. This explains how an untutored enslaved man can quickly grasp the relationship of the area of a square to the length of its side, and how anyone can learn a new subject without knowing beforehand how to judge correct and wrong information within that subject.