The main keywords of this essay “can virtue be taught essay”.
Plato presents Socrates’ views on the question of virtue and knowledge. It can be taught in many dialogues, including Meno. Socrates offers many arguments regarding virtue in this dialogue. These arguments cover how virtue is defined, and whether people can attain it. He discusses how virtue can be achieved, including whether one is born virtuous and whether it can be taught. This essay will address the question of whether virtue is possible to teach. Plato answered that virtue can’t be taught. This essay will argue that Plato could have asked the questions differently and given him a different response. Particularly, I argue that Plato could have asked whether virtue can be learned rather than asking whether virtue is taught.
Meno asks Socrates whether virtue is possible to teach. The argument is then shifted to another question: what is knowledge? Meno then proposed an interesting paradox. One cannot find anything new. Either one already knows the answer, in which case it is unnecessary to search for it, or one doesn’t know it and can’t recognize it once it is found (Plato 1997: 80d-e. To put it another way, if one doesn’t know what virtue (arete) is, he cannot search for it. Because he will not be able to recognize it when he finds it. Socrates proposes a solution to this problem, which is based upon the Pythagorean view on the immortal soul. The idea that the soul can reincarnate and be destroyed after death of the body is an example of this. It is clear that one cannot acquire new knowledge, but it is also obvious that we are constantly learning new things. Therefore, learning must be a matter recollection of past lives experiences and knowledge. Also, remembering is more important than teaching.
He demonstrated the Meno with a young boy from slavery who didn’t seem to have any geometry knowledge. He was able to prove that the boy knew certain mathematical theorems by asking him questions.
Meno again asks his original question. He wants to know if virtue can be taught or if one is born with virtue. Socrates agrees to continue, but says they need to find common ground because neither one of them can define virtue at this moment. Meno agrees that virtue cannot be taught if it is not knowledge. If it is knowledge, it can be taught. Meno points out that it is only possible to teach something if you know what it is. It is unlikely that someone who doesn’t know how to drive a car can teach another. Meno and Socrates agree that no one knows what “virtue” means and can therefore not be taught.
Socrates claims that virtue can be taught if we are able to learn from those who teach it (Plato 1997: 96c). Socrates asserts that there are teachers who can teach horsemanship, medicine, and other skills. These teachers are recognized by everyone as legitimate, but people disagree on whether they actually teach virtue. Thucydides was the father of two sons. Neither of them were considered to be virtuous. It is claimed that Thucydides taught his children many disciplines. However, it seems that he couldn’t find a teacher who could teach virtue, even though he had teachers for other areas of life that he valued. Even though he was virtuous, he could not even teach it. Virtue is not a form knowledge. To make something knowledge, one must be able teach it to others. Socrates concluded that virtue cannot and should not be taught, and that there are no methods or means by which one can acquire virtue. Refer to: Virtue is simply “shown that it will come to us whenever it comes” (reference).
Plato might have received a different answer if he had asked the questions differently, according to my opinion. Plato could have asked whether virtue could learn, rather than asking whether virtue can ever be taught. To put it another way, asking if one can be taught something implies that the relationship between a student or teacher is involved. However, asking if something can be learnt means that the student (or someone with similar life experiences) is asking if a teacher has taught you geometry. To ask whether I learned geometry, it is to simply ask whether it was taught to me by a teacher or if I learned it myself from a book or some other source.
There are many ways to learn. To learn something one doesn’t need a teacher. Learning can be done by studying virtue-filled people, even though they may not know it. A man might be learning virtue and his “teachers” could be virtuous even though they may not be living. Experience is another form of learning. Experience can be a great way to learn virtue. This would mean that the “teacher” is a combination of life experiences and reflective nature. Another form of learning exists. Even if he can’t explain how he learned it or what he knows, a man can still learn. After someone has experienced a certain problem in their life, he may be able to detect that his relative is also experiencing the same issue. He can recognize it but cannot explain how. Another example is the musician or painter who has learned their craft and can perform well but cannot explain what it was.
The question of whether virtue can or cannot be taught is therefore a different and more narrow one than the question of whether virtue can actually be learned. Plato was right when he said that virtue can’t be taught. It is likely that many people know of or have heard of people who can recite the “rules of virtue” but cannot put them into practice. This is a clear indication that virtue cannot be taught. As I mentioned, being virtuous is similar to being able to play a musical instrument, which is instinctual. It could be argued, for instance, that the ability to recognize when to help a friend, or when to give it to him, is something we instinctually know.
This means that, although virtue cannot be taught, it is possible to learn virtue. Plato suggested that virtue is inherent. This is true to a certain extent. Some people have an extraordinary capacity for virtues such as compassion, empathy, and the like. Since they were born. Others, however, seem to have a lack of moral consciousness. This seems to be a problem because virtue cannot exist without it. This does not mean that virtue cannot be learned, but that the foundation is inborn.
The same way we understand that it is possible to preach virtue but not practice it, so too can the reverse. People can improve their understanding of virtue and may find that they are more virtuous through reflective practice. As they get older, their perceptions of what it means to act in a virtuous manner change. Plato might have received a more positive answer if he had asked different questions (e.g., if he had asked if virtue could be learned instead of if virtue could be taught).
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