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In this paper I shall focus on a passage in Plato’s dialogue, the Meno, that has received wide and serious attention of late. It is that stretch of the Meno (80d-86c) that incorporates Meno’s eristic puzzle, the doctrine of recollection, Socrates’ interrogation of Meno’s slave-boy, and the sequel to that interrogation. I shall try to show that this text is transitional and doubly so, for, on the one hand, within the context of the Meno it marks the transition between the earlier elenchoi concerning the nature of arete and the employment of the method of hypothesis concerning whether arete is teachable and, on the other, within the early and middle dialogues as a whole it marks the transition between largely elenctic, Socratic inquiries and Platonic discussions with greater epistemological and metaphysical weight. This latter claim is controversial in a way that the earlier one, about the text’s transitional role in the dialogue, is not, but the claim is defensible in a way that I shall try to demonstrate in this paper.


Michael Morgan presented “How does Plato solve the paradox of inquiry in the Meno?” at the meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy at its meeting with the Western Division of the American Philosophical Association in Chicago, April 25, 1985. A revised version was published in John P. Anton & Anthony Preus, eds. 1989. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Vol. III: Plato, State University of New York Press, 169-182.

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