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Virtue and Knowledge

Virtue and Knowledge


(p.81) Three Virtue and Knowledge
Virtue Is Knowledge
Lorraine Smith Pangle
University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that Meno, usually treated as a work of epistemology, is in fact one of Plato’s most important political dialogues, containing probing reflections on the political passions and hopes that drive political ambition and that resist philosophy’s insights, on the difference between political and philosophic virtue and the relation of each to knowledge, on the reasons for Socrates’ interest in politically ambitious young men, and hence on the deepest reasons for the first political philosopher’s conflict with the city of Athens. Offering a detailed commentary on Socrates’ entire dialogue with Meno on the question of whether virtue is teachable, the chapter elucidates the central meaning of virtue as active wisdom, which is not teachable in any ordinary sense because it requires a kind of education that ultimately one can only give to oneself. It explores some of the most important political and moral obstacles to attaining that wisdom, including the factors that make knowledge prone to running away like the statues of Daedalus.

Keywords:   Socrates, Meno, Daedalus, virtue, knowledge, recollection, wisdom

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