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Philosophy - Essay Example

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Menos main aim in life is to explore outer worlds and get new experience, regardless of the problems that he could face. Thus, searching for truth, knowledge and illumination is a…
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Question: "Explain how Plato’s understanding of virtue in The Republic represents a departure from his understanding of virtue in The Meno? In PlatosMeno, the protagonist, Meno, is doomed by his desire to gain experience and knowledge. Menos main aim in life is to explore outer worlds and get new experience, regardless of the problems that he could face. Thus, searching for truth, knowledge and illumination is a dominant aspect of the human nature. For example, some of the important aspects of human nature that characterize mans existence on earth can be found in the problem of trying to find out what is virtue. In order to expose the problem of man’s continuous search for knowledge, Plato compares it to the problem of the square. Searching for knowledge is just like trying to get bigger and bigger squares than the one we have started with. Actually, the basis of most of Plato’s philosophical ideas was mathematics. He was fond of mathematics because of its idealized abstractions and its separation from the merely material. According to Plato, the mathematician could well consider himself as dealing only with the purest form of thought and as having nothing to do with the imperfect everyday world. The eagerness to be enlightened and greediness to be experienced are the real cause of man’s destruction and suffering, according to Plato in the Meno. In fact, the continuous search for knowledge about the unknown is an aspect that has been characterizing human beings since their early existence on earth.
In that sense, an important characteristic of human nature in general is the easiness with which man can commit a sin, despite the fact that he clearly knows the good. This is what is referred to as "Menos paradox" in Platos Meno. Plato, in this play, sends an important message about the nature of man, saying that, in many cases, man can clearly differentiate between what is good and what is evil and still can fail to do the good. Consequently, Plato had his own philosophy of ethics. His ethical theory rests on the assumption that virtue is knowledge and can be taught, which has to be understood in terms of his theory of Forms. The highest Form for Plato is the Form of the Good, and knowledge of this Form is the source of guidance in moral decision making. Accordingly, Plato argued that to know the good is to do the good. The epitome of this is that anyone who behaves immorally does so out of ignorance. This assumption is derived from Platos conviction that the moral person is the truly satisfied person, and because individuals always desire their own happiness, they always desire to do that which is moral.
Therefore, it can be said that Plato’s main message in Meno can be seen in his words, "since no one really learns anything, there are no teachers or students, so virtue cannot be taught. This means Meno must redefine virtue." Therefore, without defining virtue, according to Plato, Meno concludes with Socrates saying: "Then, Meno, the conclusion is that virtue comes to the virtuous by the gift of god. But we shall never know the certain truth until, before asking how virtue is given, we enquire into the actual nature of virtue."
However, in the last paragraph of the first book of Plato’s The Republic, he attempts primarily to give an answer to the question "what is justice?" Within this context, Plato explores various other notions, such as virtue, ethics, human inclinations, and the Utopia. In my opinion, Plato’s main enquiry in this paragraph is evident when he admits that he aims to discover “whether justice is virtue and wisdom or evil and folly.” Hence, the fundamental aspect of Platos thought, in this paragraph, is his distinction between virtue and evil. Plato was interested in the question of change in the physical world. Like all the Greeks, Plato thought that the highest good of man is happiness. According to Plato, the means by which this highest good is to be attained is the practice of virtue and the acquisition of wisdom.
In this philosophical book, Plato attempted to set the basis for many ethical, social, and psychological theories in the political arena. Plato believed that justice is totally incompatible with democracy. Actually, Plato had his own philosophy of ethics. His ethical theory rests on the assumption that virtue is knowledge and can be taught, which has to be understood in terms of his theory of Forms. The ultimate Form for Plato is the Form of the Good, and knowledge of this Form is the source of guidance in moral decision making. In that sense, Plato argued that to know the good is to do the good. The corollary of this is that anyone who behaves immorally does so out of ignorance. This conclusion is derived from Platos conviction that the moral person is the truly happy person, and because individuals always desire their own happiness, they always desire to do that which is moral. Therefore, it can be argued that the book discusses many of the issues that seem to reflect our contemporary society in a way. One of my main criticisms was about Platos division of the society into three classes and his division to human soul into three parts.
Works Cited
Plato- Five Dialogues"; Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, and Phaedo Read More
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