This article is about Plato’paradox and dream essay dialogue. He claims early in the dialogue that he has held forth many times on the subject of virtue, and in front of large audiences. The dialogue begins with Meno asking Socrates to tell him if virtue can be taught.
Socrates says that he does not know what virtue is, and neither does anyone else he knows. Meno responds that, according to Gorgias, virtue is different for different people, that what is virtuous for a man is to conduct himself in the city so that he helps his friends, injures his enemies, and takes care all the while that he personally comes to no harm. Virtue is different for a woman, he says. Her domain is the management of the household, and she is supposed to obey her husband.
Socrates objects: there must be some virtue common to all human beings. Socrates rejects the idea that human virtue depends on a person’s sex or age. Meno proposes to Socrates that the “capacity to govern men” may be a virtue common to all people. Socrates points out to the slaveholder that “governing well” cannot be a virtue of a slave, because then he would not be a slave. One of the errors that Socrates points out is that Meno lists many particular virtues without defining a common feature inherent to virtues which makes them thus.
Socrates remarks that Meno makes many out of one, like somebody who breaks a plate. Meno proposes that virtue is the desire for good things and the power to get them. Socrates points out that this raises a second problem—many people do not recognize evil. The discussion then turns to the question of accounting for the fact that so many people are mistaken about good and evil and take one for the other. Socrates asks Meno to consider whether good things must be acquired virtuously in order to be really good.