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Plato presents Socrates views on the question whether virtue can be taught in several dialogues most notably in Protagoras and Meno In Meno Menon puts the question to Socrates this way Can you tell me Socrates--can virtue be taught Or if not does it come by practice Or does it come neither by practice nor by teaching but do people get it by nature or in some other way 35 Socrates claims to not know the least little thing about virtue and unable to speak as to its qualities Moreover he claims to know no one that does 29 There follows a discussion as to whether Gorgias the Sophist might not be such a person Both Socrates and Menon know Gorgias teaching Menon obviously has a higher opinion of Gorgias teaching than does Socrates It is agreed upon Socrates suggestion that the conversation should proceed to explore what Menon not Gorgias knows about virtue And so Socrates puts the question to Menon What do you say virtue is 29 Menon finds nothing difficult in the question and attempts forthwith to answer it But there are complications with the answer for Menon has suggested that men slaves children women all demonstrate a different kind of virtue and concludes that there is a virtue for doing each sort of work associated with being a slave a child a woman a free man Menons idea of virtue is what we would call role specific Socrates attempts to show that Menons initial answer misses the point because it does not show what is common to the virtues of these various actors If the virtue of men and women free men and slaves does not share something in common then it cannot be said to be the same thing and one would necessarily call the one virtue and the other something else As Socrates puts it Even if there are many different kinds of them virtues they all
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