Education free essay: Plato’s Take on Virtue and Politics
Plato’s Take on Virtue and Politics
Virtue as the main theme of Plato’s Meno elicits a variety of opinions as Socrates thoughts on the topic are discussed in the recreated dialogue. One of the most important elements of this dialogue is the aspect of virtue as a transferable attribute where the discussion assesses the possibility of virtuous men imparting virtues on their sons. By visiting past known virtuous Athenians’ experience with virtues and the attributes of their sons as a direct impact of virtuous lives of their parents, Plato analyses Socrates take on transferability of virtue in Greece on two possibilities. Firstly, the possibility of genetic transfer of virtue from father to son is disbanded on grounds that the prominent Greek leaders who were virtuous sired sons who were not like their fathers in terms of living virtuous lives. Anytus is offended when Socrates airs his position on impracticality of transferability of virtue from father to son through inheritance. However, teaching virtue is generally admissible where it is likened to knowledge that can be imparted to the young as Socrates mentions among some great Greek leaders. While Socrates initially expressed his lack of expertise in virtue, he clearly demonstrates his knowledge on the topic as he continues his dialogue with Meno, who coincidentally plays the role of a student (Jowet, para.2).
From the discussion, it is perhaps possible to single out Plato’s opinion on the topic of Greece policies and the possibility that they were in touch with virtue. Whereas the possibility of virtue being taught exists in the understanding generated in the discussion, the unwillingness of the Greek leaders who ought to play the role of teachers is diagnosed as the undoing of the lack of virtue. Meno assists in the development of the idea that leaders overindulgence in their politics made virtue more remote in their policies and leadership (Jowet, para.12). Having seen that teaching virtue as knowledge may anyway not work out in the Greek context, Socrates and Meno take a different perspective in understanding where virtuous people come from if no teachers exist.
By replacing the importance of knowledge for individuals to obtain virtues with true belief, Plato illustrates the role of personal commitment in living a virtuous life. It therefore explains the impact of personal decision of Greek leaders in their policies which lack virtue as opposed to failure of their teachers. True opinion in decision making is painted to be as important as knowledge of virtue but being right in the decision taken describes the scope of virtue. Whereas true opinion may not always exist in the intention or cause ahead in decision making, it appears that the missing ingredient to ensure that the correct stand is taken is recollection. However, knowledge of virtue and the importance it has in decision making is stronger than true opinion since the connection to doing right between the two is varied. The determination of the role of knowledge and true opinion in the making of a good and virtuous man is however beyond simple natural acquisition but some divine inspiration.
Jowet, B. “Meno By Plato” n.d. Web. (http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/meno.html
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