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The prompt for this paper is:

Analyze in detail

one

(1) of Socrates’

arguments

in act 3: 87b-89b, 91a-94e, or 95b-96d. (1) how does the argument work? What is its ultimate claim and by what steps (premises) is that claim reached? And (2) is it acceptable?

– I chose to analyze the argument in act 87b-89b for this. I Have also attached the paper with the comments regarding the corrections that need to be made.

Spring 2021 1
Meno is one of Plato’s earliest Socratic dialogues, which focuses on a dialogue between
Meno and Socrates. This dialogue is a fictional dialogue that features real personalities that have
existed in history. In Meno, Socrates and Meno contemplate virtue and the nature of virtue, as
well as whether or not it can or cannot be taught. Is virtue innate? Is it a kind of knowledge? This
is the question they deliberate. Fine, but what is the problem and thesis of this position paper?
What’s needed is a concise statement of the conclusion and the premises of the argument you
discuss in the next paragraph.
In act three of the Meno, Socrates contemplates the nature of virtue, and he concludes
that virtue is beneficial and also a form of wisdom. He makes this claim after his investigation
into knowledge as a recollection using the slave boy. [Sounds like he’s making claims &
arguments, rather than asking Meno questions.] Socrates starts off by investigating whether or
not virtue is teachable or if it is recollectable. In a way he is investigating virtue as an innate
knowledge. If it is innate, then it cannot be taught and if it is not, then there is a possibility for it
to be taught. If virtue is a kind of knowledge, then it can be taught. The next point he says to
consider in this investigation is whether or not virtue is a knowledge or something else (87c). In
order to deduce this, he analyzes the nature of virtue in so far as whether or not it is good, and
beneficial to us; and to do this, he analyzes all things that are good and beneficial to us, and what
makes them good and beneficial. He concludes that the proper use of something can make it
beneficial and the improper use can make it harmful; he says that “all that the soul undertakes
and endures, if directed by wisdom, ends in happiness, but if directed by ignorance, it ends in the
opposite?” (88c). Since virtue is something in the soul, it is a kind of knowledge and is not
beneficial or harmful by default. It only becomes so after our application of it. He concludes that
virtue is from the soul and therefore must be a kind of wisdom, and anything that is done with
Spring 2021 2
wisdom is beneficial. Therefore, virtue is beneficial and a kind of wisdom therefore it can be
taught. This paragraph reports the steps of the argument in the order that they are presented, but
doesn’t make clear what exactly is the conclusion reached or the premises for that conclusion
extracted from the whole of these pages.
✓Throughout this argument, he works through two main points that lead to his
concluding statement that virtue can be taught. He starts of by deducing that if virtue is
knowledge, it can be taught, and the second point he comes to is that virtue is knowledge. This is
it! This finally leads him to his conclusion. [What conclusion?] His argument is acceptable when
analyzing the structure of the argument. The premises which he provides are both true which
lead to his conclusion being true in the case of modus ponens, in which both premises are true,
then the conclusion is also true. This shows that the conclusion that comes from both premises is
true and therefore, his argument holds true and acceptable. Socrates makes the argument that
virtue can be taught by creating a logical argument.
Comments
Overall, this is a good position paper insofar as it indicates all the steps in the Meno argument
you’re writing about. As marginal comments indicate, though, it isn’t exactly the analysis that
was assigned. You come close to that in the final paragraph, but omit the conclusion. That would
be a good place to begin the paper, omitting the present intro, which isn’t pertinent to the
assignment. Following this, separate paragraphs should indicate how each of the two main points
is supported, but not by reporting each step in order, as at present.
The paper is good as is, but can be much better with some work on revision. I hope that these and
the marginal comments are helpful to you in doing that work.
GRADE: B

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