Plato’s Meno 3 and 4

Part 3

On the third part of this conversation socrates and meno discuss whether if virtue is something good or evil,harmful or helpful.

If virtue is one of the things in the soul and is necessarily
beneficial to it, it must be wisdom, since all of these things of the soul are in
themselves neither beneficial nor harmful, but become beneficial or harmful
when accompanied by wisdom or foolishness. According to this account,
since virtue is beneficial, it must be a kind of wisdom.
M: I think so.
So: And the other things too that we were just now talking about,
wealth and such like, that are sometimes good and sometimes harmful, in
the way that wisdom made the goods of the soul beneficial by guiding the
rest of the soul, in the same way, doesn’t the soul make them beneficial by
using and guiding them correctly, but if incorrectly, harmful?

And at the very end of this part the talk about virtue being teachable so there must be someone that can teach it.

 I will tell you, Meno. That it is teachable if it is knowledge, I don’t
take that back or think it wasn’t well said, but rather, that it is knowledge.
See if my doubt seems reasonable to you. Tell me this, if something is
teachable, not just virtue, wouldn’t there have to be teachers and learners of


Part 4

The fourth part starts with  the introduction of a new character. Sócrates asks Anytus(Another big philosopher like socrates)who would be able to teach Meno virtue.

So: Well said. And now you can deliberate along with me about your
guest-friend* Meno here. For he has been telling me a long time, Anytus,
that he desires the wisdom and virtue by which men manage households
and cities, and take care of their parents, and know how to receive and send
off citizens and foreigners in the manner worthy of a good man. Think
about to whom we would be right to send him, with respect to this virtue.
Or is it clear, according to our recent principle, that it is to those who
promise to be teachers of virtue and declare themselves available to any
Greek who wants to learn, and who set a fee and collect it?

Then socrates implies that he sending meno with the sophist could be a good idea because he knew that anytus had a very bad impression of them.Then anytus talks says that he strongly disagrees with that option because he thinks that the sophists were a group corrupting the community. Socrates knew that like most of the philosophers that hated the sophist have never meet one or read anything made from them.

An: By Heracles! Quiet, Sócrates! Let none of my household or
friends, whether Athenian or foreigner, be seized by the kind of madness
that would send them to be ruined by these people, since they are
obviously the ruin and corruption of those they associate with.


Then they return to the question “Who could teach virtue”.Anytus answers that any athenian gentleman would be able to do so,but socrates thinks different so he gives example of great men that had no so great sons and that they weren’t able to teach virtue even when they were known for having it.The whole conversation ends with Anytus pissed at socrates for making him doubt about what he thought,it also ends with the conclusion of virtue being something you are born with it.

Based on this reasoning, then, Meno, it seems to us that virtue is
present to those who have it by a share of the divine. We will have clear
knowledge of it when, before we ask in what way virtue comes to be in
man, we first try to discover what exactly virtue is in its own right.
But now it is time for me to go somewhere. As for you, on the other
hand, persuade your guest-friend* here, Anytus, of the very things you
have been convinced of, so that he might become gentler. If you persuade
him, you will also benefit the Athenians.


Leave a Reply