How is the achievement of Socrates used today

The search for ethical principles and the cognitive-ethical parallelism

The Rise of Scientific Philosophy pp 63-89 | Cite as

Part of the Philosophy of Science Science and Philosophy book series (WWP, volume 1)


At this point from Plato's dialogue Meno, which we bring here in an abridged version, Socrates examines the question of whether virtue is knowledge. Just as in an earlier dialogue by Plato, the Protagoraswhere the same question is addressed, Socrates ’answer is not a resounding“ yes ”or“ no ”. Nor can he come to a final answer because he does not use the words “knowledge” and “teach” clearly. Socrates always insists that he never teach, but only help a person to see the truth through their own eyes. His method is to ask questions and the student learns because the questions focus his attention on specific points so that he can find the true answer by focusing on and drawing conclusions from the important facts. Of this type, for. B. learning in geometry; insight into the truth of the geometrical relationships used for proof is always left to the student, and the teacher can only guide him to accomplish such insight. But if the student “learns” as a result of this so-called dialectical method, then it can be said that the person who induces him to learn “teaches”. For if Socrates extended his strange language to geometry and denied that it was teachable (which he sometimes does), it would follow that geometry is not knowledge (a conclusion he does not draw). It therefore seems justified to interpret Socrates' view as meaning that virtue is a form of knowledge in the same sense as geometry can be called a form of knowledge.

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© Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn GmbH, Braunschweig 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA