At Meno 80c, Meno accuses Socrates of bewitching him. Meno accuses him of being “in appearance and in every other way, like the broad torpedo fish, for it too makes anyone who comes close and touches it feel numb.” Socrates responds to this accusation in 80c-d by clarifying to Meno that he is more perplexed than anyone when he causes perplexity in others. Essentially in Meno 80c-d, Socrates rejects bewitching Meno. He acknowledges to Meno that he may have perplexed him, but supports himself by explaining that he only did that in seeking for a definition of virtue. Although Socrates welcomes that they both are perplexed about the definition of virtue, he moves the conversation forward by suggesting they should keep seeking for the definition of virtue. In response to Socrates’ suggestion the famous “Meno Paradox” arises.
At the end of Meno 80d, Meno asks Socrates how he can seek for the definition of virtue without knowing it. Additionally how he could know he found the answer without knowing it. By asking Socrates this, basically, Meno proposes that if you know what you are looking for examination is needless and if you don’t know what your looking for examination is impossible. A person either knows something or doesn’t know that something. Consequently, Meno is essentially telling Socrates that examination is either unnecessary or it is impossible. At Meno 80e, Socrates names the argument Meno is making a “debater’s argument,” and he goes on to respond to this argument with the recollection theory.
Socrates illuminates the nature of the soul to Meno in 81b-c to help Meno understand his theory of recollection. He explains that because the human soul is immortal, it has seen all things, and there is nothing that the soul has not learned. Furthermore, he explains that since the soul has learned everything already, nothing prevents a man from recollecting those things. At Meno 81d, Socrates acknowledges the process of recollecting things as “a process that men call learning.” This theory of recollection forms a distinct difference between Meno and Socrates’ argument.
At Meno 81e Socrates tells Meno “We must therefore, not believe that debater’s argument, for it would make us idle, and fainthearted men like to hear it, whereas my argument makes them energetic and keen on the search.” In other words, we can not believe in Meno’s debater’s argument because according to it, a man cannot learn anything new, and that is challenging to accept when it seems that men learn new things all the time. Instead, Socrates suggests we believe in his argument known as the recollection doctrine because it keeps men “energetic and keen on the search,” to recollect the things it new before.
Meno seems to understand why they cannot believe in his debater’s argument and he also seems to understand Socrates’ recollection doctrine. However, before Meno can believe the recollection theory he asks Socrates and important question. At Meno 81e, Meno asks Socrates to prove to him that when a man seems to be learning, he is actually just recollecting. Socrates try’s to…