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Protagoras and Meno (Penguin Classics) by…

Protagoras and Meno (Penguin Classics) (edition 2006)

by Plato

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653622,962 (3.86)10
This volume contains new translations of two dialogues of Plato, the Protagoras and the Meno, together with explanatory notes and substantial interpretive essays. Robert C. Bartlett's translations are as literal as is compatible with sound English style and take into account important textual variations. Because the interpretive essays both sketch the general outlines of the dialogues and take up specific theoretical or philosophic difficulties, they will be of interest not only to those reading the dialogues for the first time but also to those already familiar with them. The Protagoras and the Meno are linked by the attention each pays to the idea of virtue: the latter dialogue focuses on the fundamental Socratic question, "What is virtue?"; the former on the specific virtue of courage, especially in its relation to wisdom. An appendix contains a short extract from Xenophon's Anabasis of Cyrus that vividly portrays the figure of Meno.… (more)
Title:Protagoras and Meno (Penguin Classics)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Paperback, 176 pages
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Protagoras and Meno by Plato

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Socrates: 'Of course, I'm speaking as someone who doesn't have knowledge myself. I'm just guessing.' (Meno 98b, p. 130) Both dialogues here are framed around the question of whether virtue can be taught, which subsequently unravel into uncertainties about what it means to be a good person in the first place. This is Socrates, the 'gadfly' of Athens, in fine form.
  jamesshelley | Aug 21, 2019 |
This short dialogue on the issue of virtue (arete) and whether it can be taught is apparently one of Plato's works from his second literary period, written after Book 1 but before the remaining books of The Republic. The introduction to this version is by the translator, Benjamin Jowett. There are few references to other works in the modern academic tradition, but Jowett makes particular mention of Meno in relation to the works of Descartes, Locke, Bacon, Hume, Spinoza, and Berkeley. I found this interesting as I have been exploring deductive versus inductive methods of research in recent times. Plato tends to be deductive, in moving from general ideas and principles to specifics, whereas the inductive method draws on specific cases to lead to general principles. Karl Popper was not a fan of induction, it seems. That Plato draws on Pythagoras and Heraclitus is obvious, but Jowett points out that there is no explicitly stated link. Most interesting was Plato's finding (through the words of Socrates, p. 75):Then, Meno, the conclusion is that virtue comes to the virtuous by the gift of God.That this is an early work makes sense. I frequently adopt the Socratic method in my teaching (as does much of academe even if implicitly) and a few times I have received feedback that sums it up thus: The Socratic method sucks. I hate it. By the end of this work, I couldn't help think that Socrates was being egotistical. Sure, he tried to shock people to realise their ignorance, but in this case, and as important as the idea is to so many philosophers, but in particular, Heraclitus, I thought the finding was quite a cop-out. All that posturing to say what Heraclitus had said more eloquently? The big lesson for me is that the Socratic method, when practised by the un- or under-practised, could easily come off as it does in Meno. I am half-way through a cover-to-cover reading of The Republic at the moment, which seems better polished and far less obtuse. It may well be that Desmond Lee's translation is better than Jowetts's. But clearly, if I am to be better at using the Socratic method, I must take into account how an amateurish use of the method may come off as egotistical with my students. I can recall the instances where this may well have been the case. But the idea of deduction versus induction and Jowett's comments on Plato in relation to other philosophers ranging from Descartes to Spinoza are worthy of further exploration. Additionally, Jowett states that modern philosophy no longer asks the sort of questions asked by Plato (p. 29). I think this explains why Nietzsche's madman shouts in the market place (The Gay Science, section 125, p. 90):God is dead! ... And we have killed him!Here Plato has Socrates tell us that virtue is a gift of God, which I can see means that to be virtuous requires one to find God. Rather than the shopkeepers telling the madman that they didn't know we had lost Him, and in spite of Plato's unrefined use of the dialogue (compared to his more advanced, later use), it would seem that modern philosophers are the crowd looking on and laughing at Nietzsche's madman (or, if you prefer, Huxley's self-flagellating Savage), while all the time they have forgotten their very origins. ( )
  madepercy | Oct 10, 2018 |
An excellent introduction for the general reader, but notes so sparse I wonder why they bothered at all. The translation of Meno is flowing and readable. I can't speak for Protagoras as I recently read someone else's translation. The two dialogues are a sensible fit though as they both deal with virtue. ( )
1 vote Lukerik | Oct 18, 2016 |
A couple of the more enjoyable dialogues because they are much more accessible and they concern a more practical topic: virtue. That said, I find it hard to rate it high when I disagree with a large part of Socrates' argumentation and conclusions. I have no certainty that virtue is the same as knowledge, as he states in both of them, and then dismisses later in the Meno. I do think it's possible to have knowledge and still act unvirtuously, unlike Socrates. And I do think that sometimes emotions, passions, or other sorts of impulses can over-ride knowledge in the course of decision-making, unlike Socrates. I vehemently disagree with the conclusion in the Meno that virtue is some sort of divine inspiration. And finally, I completely disagree that it cannot be taught. There is also Socrates' false modesty on great display in Protagoras, especially 361a. I wish I knew how much of this was Plato and how much was the genuine Socrates. ( )
1 vote blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
The Meno is Plato's finest and most ironic dialogue. ( )
1 vote Audacity88 | Jan 8, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Platoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Guthrie, W.K.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molegraaf, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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