- MemberJuly 28, 2022 at 12:10 pm
Plato presents Socrates’ views about the question whether virtue or knowledge can be taught through dialogues, most notably Meno. Socrates’ dialogue presents many different arguments about virtue. These arguments focus on how virtue can be defined and whether or otherwise people can achieve it. He examines how virtue is achieved. I will concentrate on the question of if virtue can be taught. Plato answers that virtue cannot ever be taught. In this essay, I argue that Plato could possibly have framed these questions differently to get a different answer. I argue that Plato would have been better to ask whether virtue can learn rather than whether it can be taught.
Meno first asks Socrates about virtue and Meno continues with Meno asking Socrates what knowledge can be taught. The argument turns to a second question, namely what is knowledge. Meno proposed an interesting paradox. It is impossible to learn anything new. The paradox is that one cannot even search for what virtue (arete) is if he doesn’t already know it. Socrates suggests a solution, based on the Pythagorean idea of the immortal spirit. The belief that the soul, once the physical body dies is reincarnated and so can never be destroyed. One cannot learn new information, yet it is obvious that we continue to learn new things. This means that learning must come down to recollection of previous life experiences and knowledge. In other words, teaching is not the same thing as remembering.
He demonstrated the Meno by working with a young black slave boy, who had no knowledge of geometry. He managed to demonstrate mathematical knowledge by asking questions of the young boy. Main keyword of this article “can virtue be taught essay”, read my paper below.
Meno asks a second time his original question. This is whether one can learn virtue or get virtue from nature. Socrates is willing to go along, but he argues that they need to come to an agreement due to the fact that neither one can define virtue. Meno finally agrees with Socrates that virtue is not knowledge and can be learned if it is a knowledge. He points out, however, that you can only teach something if it is what you are teaching. One who doesn’t know how a car drives is unlikely to be capable of teaching another how. Meno much and Socrates agreed that there is no one who truly understands what “virtue”, and that this cannot be taught.
Socrates claimed that virtue could only be taught if it was possible to know those who are capable of teaching it and those who can learn from them. (Plato 1997, 96c). Socrates claimed that horsemanship, medicine, and others are taught by Sophists. There are genuine teachers and they are acknowledged by all. But, there is disagreement about whether the Sophists teach virtue. Thucydides had two sons. None of them was considered virtuous. Socrates refers to Thucydides. Thucydides was said to have taught his children in many different fields, but he didn’t seem to be able find a teacher for virtue, even though other areas of life were valuable. He couldn’t even teach it, even though he was well-known for his virtue. Virtue cannot be considered a form or knowledge. It is necessary to be able to pass on knowledge to others in order for it to be considered knowledge. Socrates concludes virtue cannot be learned and there is no method or way to acquire virtue. Referring to the above, virtue is simply “shown to be coming to us at any time by divine dispensation.”
Plato might have got a different result if he had approached the question differently. Plato could have asked whether virtue is possible to learn instead of asking if it can be taught. What I mean is that asking if you can learn something is to question the relationship between a student, teacher, and student. However, asking whether it can be learned is to question whether a teacher taught me. It is not possible to ask me whether I learned or were taught geometry by a teacher.
Learning can take many forms. One does not need to have a teacher to learn. Learning can be accomplished by studying people who are good, but the former may not realize that they are being studied. Thus, a man could learn virtue while his “teachers”, who might not even exist, may be virtuous. Another type of learning is through experience. You can learn virtue through personal experience. In this instance, the “teacher” would be both the learner’s reflective nature and life experiences. Yet another type of learning is possible. Man can learn even if they cannot explain how or what they know. If someone has had to go through a specific problem in their lives, he might be able detect that a relative is having the same problems. Even though he may be able to recognize the problem, he is unable to explain why. Another example: musicians and painters can be described as having learned their craft, are capable of performing well, but it is almost impossible to explain how.
It is not possible to teach virtue, but it is an important question. Plato is right to suggest that virtue cannot ever be taught. I think we all know people who are able to say “rules” about virtue, but they find it difficult to apply them. Virtue cannot be taught in this way. As we have already said, being virtuous could be described as being able and able to perform musically, which is, to a certain extent, instinctual. One could argue, for example that instinctual judgment or intuition can help us know when we should offer our assistance to a friend who is in need.
All this suggests that virtue is something that can be learned. Plato suggests that virtue can only be inborn. It is true that this notion is partially true. There are people who have exceptional virtues like compassion. They were born. Others seem to lack a moral conscience. It seems that virtue is impossible to develop in this way. This is not to say that virtue can’t learn, but it is inborn.
Similar to how we can understand that one can be taught how to be virtueful but not be virtuous in actual practice, it is also possible for people to refine their virtue-based understandings, become more virtuous and change their perspectives on how to act in a noble way as they mature. Plato may have found a more positive answer to his questions if they had asked him differently (for example, if Plato had asked whether virtue could be taught rather than whether it can be learned).
Alternative sources: https://proessays.net/essays/analysis-of-class-and-virtue-essay-by-parenti
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