Virtue In Meno And Plato's Allegory Of The Cave

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In Meno, Meno and Socrates are discussing Virtue and attempting to develop a definition of what Virtue is. At one point in the dialogue Meno states that Virtue is “desiring fine things and being able to acquire them” Baird and Kaufmann, 156). In their attempts to analyze this definition they discuss evil, what it is and whether or not it is ever desired by people. I will use this discussion to answer the beginning question from Plato’s perspective and show that, through Socrates and Meno, Plato demonstrates that evil is a form of ignorance, and as we know from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, ignorance is one of the most damaging states a human can exist in. In On Free Will, Augustine comes to a very similar conclusion. In the dialogue Evodius asks Augustine whether or not God is the creator of evil, in order to answer this Augustine must work with Evodius to determine what evil is and from there who are its creators. Augustine demonstrates that God is not the creator of evil, only just punishment, and the evil humans create is of their own doing, is a form of ignorance, and because evil is punished by God, being evil is harmful to evil beings.
Meno’s definition of Virtue at this point in the dialogue states that virtue is “desiring fine things and being able to acquire them” (Baird and Kaufmann, 156). Socrates replies with the observation that it seems some people desire evil, which he defines later on as what brings about unhappiness and misfortune. It is determined that
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