Scott Hambrick and a group of the Online Great Books seminar leaders tackle Plato’s The Meno, a short but endlessly deep work attempting to unearth the meaning – or even existence – of virtue. Written as a Socratic dialogue between Socrates and Meno, a young Thessalian noble, the Meno is both provocative and frustratingly inconclusive.
Virtue comes from the Greek arete, meaning “excellence” or more generally, “fitness for purpose.” Thus, to arrive at an understanding of virtue, one must first understand the nature and purpose of man. Modern thinking often leans toward objective, scientific descriptions of things, i.e. describing what a thing is. The Menopushes us to not just think about what man is, but what man should be.
The group ponders what a society built on Socratic dialogue might look like. On matters of justice, modern society often pushes for action — what we must do to fix a (perceived) problem. The Socratic society might first question whether there is a problem, and, more importantly, whether action would change or fix a problem anyway.